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Breastfeeding and alcohol: Is it OK to drink?

I'm breastfeeding my baby. Is it OK to drink alcohol?

Updated: 2024-04-26

Answer Section

No safe amount of alcohol has been defined during breastfeeding. It is safest not to drink alcohol if you breastfeed your baby. But taking in up to one standard drink a day at least two hours before breastfeeding is not known to be harmful for a baby.

In the United States, one standard drink is about:

  • 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor with 7% ABV.
  • 5 ounces of wine with 12% ABV.
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor with 40% ABV.

Measurements in other countries vary.

When a person drinks, a small amount of alcohol passes through the blood into breast milk. Regular exposure to too much alcohol can affect a baby's growth, development and sleep. The baby might seem drowsy and weak and have unhealthy weight gain.

Alcohol also can affect the ability to safely care for a baby.

Over time, drinking too much might cause the body to make less breast milk.

Delay pumping or breastfeeding your baby two hours for each alcoholic drink you consume. Or use stored breast milk that you pumped before you had alcohol.

Pumping breast milk and throwing it out shortly after you drink won't help your body get rid of alcohol faster. But it can help prevent pain and swelling that happen when too much milk builds up in your breasts. This is called engorgement.

Breastfeeding is recommended for a baby's first six months and as part of a healthy diet for 1 to 2 years. So, if you choose to drink, plan carefully to keep your baby from being exposed to alcohol.