Breastfeeding: The Effects of Alcohol and Caffeine on Breast Milk

May 25, 2012

breastfeedingAs any mother knows breastfeeding is the best when it comes to the nutrition for your baby. However, some may not know that certain foods or beverages can actually pass through the breast milk and harm the baby. No one is saying that new moms can’t touch alcohol or other products such as caffeine, but there is a way to keep the baby safe.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

New moms who are breastfeeding may at some point wish to have a drink. This is perfectly fine, as long as the new mom waits for the alcohol to metabolize before resuming breastfeeding. Other moms depending on the consumption of their alcohol will go through a process known as pump and dump. Some, after a particularly wild evening out may not feel comfortable breastfeeding their child. For that reason they will pump their milk and then dump it. This is a good practice, as once breast milk has alcohol in it, it stays, and so dumping it is the only option; however that does not mean that the breast milk following the dump is safe.

Alcohol Facts

There are many misconceptions when it comes to alcohol and breastfeeding and there are many factors to consider. Alcohol enters milk freely, and the average ration to wait to resume breastfeeding is 2 hours per drink. The highest level of alcohol that can be found in the mothers milk will occur roughly one hour after the mother has consumed alcohol. Many misconceptions including drinking more water, ingesting caffeine and exercising will not reduce the levels of alcohol found in breast milk.

Pump and Dump

Many women will pump and dump, however it has been determined that depending upon the amount of alcohol imbibed, this may not be safe. Ultimately only time will reduce the amount of alcohol in the mother’s milk. However, pumping and dumping can help relieve engorgement. Storing milk ahead of time is also a good idea to ensure safe milk for the baby.

Caffeine

Caffeine is not necessarily bad for the child, and its levels within the breast milk are low. However, some babies can be more affected by caffeine in the breast milk than others. Studies have shown that those mothers who avoided caffeine during their pregnancy had babies who were more susceptible to its effects through breast milk. Signs that a baby is experiencing caffeine effects from breast milk include, hyper alertness, inability to sleep, and general fussiness. It is suggested that moms limit their caffeine consumption to less than 300 mg per day. This includes all beverages that contain caffeine including coffee, tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, as well as dark chocolate.

There are numerous misconceptions and old wives tales regarding alcohol, caffeine, and many other herbs and substances and their effects on breast milk and babies. However, it is important to do research beforehand. Ultimately alcohol and caffeine should be limited in their consumption, but just pumping and dumping may not be the answer. Time is the only factor that reduces the amount of alcohol in breast milk. There is not nutritional substitution for breast milk, for this reason it is imperative that new moms plan accordingly and do what’s best for their babies and themselves. If you have been drinking, perhaps an alcohol detox is in order.

Author Bio: Garrett is an SEO professional who has traveled extensively and volunteered at many detox centers to learn how to help others with drug and alcohol addictions.



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