Q: I breastfeed my baby. I'm planning to go to a St. Patrick's Day party. Can I drink beer?
A: As a board-certified lactation consultant, what I always tell my clients is: if you're too drunk to drive, you're too drunk to breastfeed - but not too drunk to pump and dump.
Alcohol from one drink peaks in breast milk around 30 to 60 minutes after you have a drink (longer if you're eating at the same time). Based on that, it would make sense to breastfeed your baby right before you consume an alcoholic beverage.
"Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all…The mother can take some alcohol and continue to breastfeed as she normally does," according to Dr. Jack Newman, member of La Leche League International. "Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers."
In fact, there are some studies that suggest beer can potentially stimulate prolactin levels and breast milk production; this is likely caused by the barley, since non-alcoholic beer has the same effects.
Of course, there are possible side effects from excessive drinking, including drowsiness and deep sleep in infants, and a potential decrease in your milk-ejection reflex.
So when it comes to a celebratory drink or two on St. Patty's Day, moderation is the name of the game. Sláinte!
by Flannery Fontinell, R.N., B.S.N., IBCLC, LCCE