Healthy eating habits/Breastfeeding and alcohol

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For women who are breastfeeding - What you need to know about consuming alcohol.

Siany Hodgins 17164450[edit]

Is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?[edit]

For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option because:[edit]

  • There are concerns that alcohol passed through breast milk may have adverse effects on the infant;[1]
  • Larger amounts of alcohol in the breast milk can cause problems with breast milk let-down.[1]

However, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association[edit]

  • You CAN enjoy an alcohol drink.
  • The key is to plan ahead.

How much of the alcohol I drink gets into my breast milk?[edit]

The short answer is 100%....[edit]

The amount of alcohol in your milk is equal to the amount of alcohol in your blood.[2]

How does this happen?.....[edit]

Alcohol can move freely from your blood in and out of your breast-milk, so if you have any alcohol in your blood, the same amount of alcohol be present in your breast milk.[2] Once the alcohol has passed through your system, your breast milk will be alcohol free – alcohol is not ‘stored’ in your milk.[3] The amount of alcohol in your blood can be affected by:

  • the total alcohol content of your drink;
  • the type and quantity of foods eaten;
  • your weight;
  • how quickly you are drinking.[3]



2 hours

How long does it take for the alcohol to clear from my breast milk?[edit]

2 hours[edit]

As a general rule, it takes 2 hours for an average woman to get rid of the alcohol from 1 standard alcoholic drink.[3] therefore 4 hours for 2 drinks, 6 hours for 3 drinks and so on.

Alcohol will be in your breast-milk 30–60 minutes after you start drinking. This is included in the 2 hours, which is taken from the time you start of drinking.[3]

But ………[edit]

It is important to remember that many factors can change how alcohol affects you including:

  • age;
  • body composition (weight, how much muscle and fat you have);
  • mental health status;
  • drug use;
  • existing medical conditions.[3]

How can I get rid of alcohol out of my milk faster?....[edit]

You can’t![edit]

While expressing your milk is important for your comfort and to maintain milk production, it will not get rid of the alcohol any quicker.[4]

Can I drink alcohol straight away?...[edit]

It is strongly recommended that you do not consume alcohol until your baby is at least one month old.[3]


Australian standard alcoholic drink
Standard wine - 100mL
standard beer/cider - 285mL
Standard Spirit - 30mL

What is a standard drink?[edit]

In Australia, a standard alcoholic drink contains 10g of alcohol, which is equal to:[edit]

100ml wine[4][edit]

285ml full strength beer/cider[4][edit]

60ml port or sherry[4][edit]

30ml spirits[4][edit]

REMEMBER, you may not always be served, or serve yourself a standard drink[edit]

  • for example, an average bottle of beer/ cider contains around 1.4-1.6 standard drinks – if you drink one of these bottles it will take around 3 hours for the alcohol to clear from your breast milk.

How can I manage breastfeeding when I am planning to drink alcohol?[edit]

It is important to have a plan when consuming alcohol, you can be prepared by:[edit]

  • Timing your alcohol consumption with your baby's feeding and sleeping patterns;[3]
  • Eat before and while you are drinking alcohol;[3]
  • Express some milk for your baby ahead of time (breast milk can be frozen for up to 3 months.[3]

Australian Dietary Guidelines[edit]

The current Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that women consume no more than 2 standard drinks on any day.[5]



Australian Breastfeeding Association is Australia's largest breastfeeding information and support service and is recognised worldwide as an authority on breastfeeding management. You will find a wealth of information for both parents and for health professionals on their website.[edit]



Further reading[edit]

[Healthy Eating for Pregnancy][edit]

Siany Hodgins 17164450[edit]

References[edit]

  1. a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003). 4810.0.55.001 - Breastfeeding in Australia. Viewed at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4810.0.55.001
  2. a b Brown, J. E. et al. (2011). Nutrition through the life cycle (4th Edition). Belmont, CA, Wadsworth, CENGAGE Learning
  3. a b c d e f g h i Australian Breastfeeding Association (2013). Alcohol and breastfeeding. Viewed at https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/safe-when-breastfeeding/alcohol-and-breastfeeding
  4. a b c d e Department of Health (2012). The Australian Standard Drink. Viewed at http://www.health.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/standard
  5. NHMRC (2013). Australian Dietary Guidelines – providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf