Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Looking at the Facts

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Have you been told to pump and dump? Have you been told alcohol and breastfeeding don’t mix? Or maybe you have heard that if you can drive, you can breastfeed.  Here are some facts to help you make an informed decision.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine acknowledges that studies evaluating the effects of maternal alcohol use while breastfeeding
have been mixed, mainly finding some mild effects on early psychomotor infant development and growth, reduced milk emptying and changes in baby’s sleep patterns.  Mixing alcohol and breastfeeding can reduce or delay letdown, less milk may be extracted during nursing sessions after alcohol intake, leading to early or unexpected wakening from a hungry baby.  Additionally, baby may find the taste of your breastmilk less appealing.

Breastmilk alcohol levels are estimated to be significantly lower (<16%) than maternal blood plasma alcohol levels, but increase with higher levels of consumption.  Most reputable clinical sources advise mothers to wait at least two hours after consumption of an alcoholic drink to nurse an infant.  There is no need to pump and dump, as alcohol levels reduce with time from breastmilk.  However, missed feedings may require pumping to maintain supply and comfort.

If consuming alcohol, it is best to do so shortly after nursing.   Always monitor your own consumption and the effect it can have on your ability to care for your baby.

At Nest Collaborative, our IBCLCs are here to provide women with accurate and evidence-based information to help all mothers make the best decision for themselves and baby.


Infant Risk Center

Butte, N., & Stuebe, A. (2018) Maternal nutrition during lactation. In A. Hoppin (Ed.), UpToDate. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from