Beer and Breastfeeding for St. Patrick's Day?

We love to hear from our readers! Here's a question we recently received:

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


  1. I never believed my mom or my OB when they told me to drink a beer at night after my baby was in bed. When I do 'treat' myself to a beer after the little one's bedtime I wake up engorged! It's awesome and painful. But the good painful that makes me laugh out loud. And on top of waking up with full jugs, I notice that after a good-night beer my breasts are always full of liquid gold throughout the day and some times into the following day as well. 

  2. Thanks for the post. I was never afraid to enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine when I was nursing my daughter. We nursed for 18 months and now at 3 she is sharp as a tack. I am now nursing our 2 month old son and will still enjoy the occasional drink. (and by drink I mean a single beer or small glass of wine, no drunk BFing here!)

  3. exactly! all about moderation AND giving mamas a chance to relax :-)


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