Breastfeeding And Alcohol

Sometimes you cannot avoid having a drink at an important party or a wedding, while some women, unconsciously have a drink forgetting for a moment that they would be nursing their baby soon. Don’t worry, no one is going to crucify for an occasional drink at a party. But you still will have to avoid breastfeeding your baby for another 2 – 3 hours or more, depending on how much alcohol you have consumed.

Heavy drinking or even light drinking, is a very dangerous habit if you are breastfeeding your child. It is very important that mothers with a drinking problem try to kick this habit even while they are pregnant. If not completely, then at least abstain from drinks for the first six weeks after the baby is born. The effects of alcohol are so bad that it is better to feed the baby formula milk rather than breast milk if the mother is not able to control herself.

Though it is universally acknowledged that drinking alcohol is very bad for the baby’s health especially while nursing, there are many conflicting opinions about it among health experts. Some experts, actually sanction an occasional drink but feel that it would be safer for the baby, if the alcohol were consumed after breastfeeding, while some feel that having a drink once in a week would be fine.

Here are some effects that daily consumption of alcohol would have on your child –

  • The amount of alcohol that is consumed by the mother almost equals the amount that is found in the breast milk.
  • Studies indicate that babies who consume alcohol through their mother’s breast milk have a slow weight gain.
  • Mothers who consume one glass of alcohol on a daily basis will be risking their babies’ gross motor development.
  • It is also noted that mothers who drink heavily and then breastfeed will be passing on huge levels of alcohol to the baby, which will change the sleeping pattern of the child.
  • Alcohol inhibits the breastfeeding pattern resulting in less milk.
  • With the taste of the breast milk altered, your babies might also go on a nursing strike and not feed when you offer them the breast.

Some opine that expressing milk right after the alcohol is ingested will rid the body of alcohol but there are many conflicting reports and arguments about this. However experts feel that if you are sober enough to drive, then you are safe enough to breastfeed. But it also alternatively depends on the age of your baby. If your child is less than three months old, tiny amount of alcohol will be harmful for his liver.

There are also many wrong myths about alcohol and one of them is that consuming alcohol would increase the milk production while in reality, alcohol reduces 23% of your milk production whenever it is consumed.

Babies are huge responsibility and they upon their mother for nourishment. If you have a drinking problem then it is best that you get counseling and treatment even before you have a baby.

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