Is it Safe to Drink a Wine Cooler While Breast-feeding?

By Michelle Hogan

The dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant are well-documented and well-known. However, once a mother has her baby and begins to breast-feed, the rules about drinking alcohol are murky.

Warning

Alcohol does pass through a mother's milk. It takes approximately one hour for alcohol to pass from mother to baby. The more alcohol consumed, the more that will pass on to baby (if baby is nursed while or after the mother drinks). Remember, if you can "feel" it, your baby can too.

Effects

The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that even small amounts of alcohol can produce changes in a baby's sleep patterns and behavior. While a baby might be more drowsy after consuming breast milk with alcohol, the sleep could be less deep and more "irritable." The liver function of babies who are younger than two months old could also be more stressed by the addition of alcohol to their milk.

Benefits

Most experts agree that there is no benefit of consuming alcohol while breast-feeding. However, the argument has been made that a glass of wine or a wine cooler for a new mother who is stressed and exhausted could help her milk flow.

Solutions

Are you just dying to head out for one night with the girls? Nurse the baby before you go out. If you are going to miss a nursing or two, pump a couple of bottles' worth of breast milk. Having the backup will relieve your stress about the issue.

Expert Insight

According to Dr. Jack Newman, the author of "The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers," the idea that mothers can't have a wine cooler or a beer with a piece of pizza is a myth.

"Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can drink some alcohol and continue breast-feeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for breast-feeding mothers."

About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.