2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
More than ever this year we will need this period of indulgence during which we allow ourselves sweets that do good. Once again this year, breastfeeding mothers will wonder if they can "afford" that glass of wine or cocktail at the aperitif.
Regarding the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, the recommendations in Canada are generally well known to everyone (by he alth professionals as well as the general population), or that the consumption of alcohol is to be avoided throughout pregnancy.
But when we talk about alcohol consumption during breastfeeding, there seems to be a blur… We sometimes hear that the mother must pass a certain number hours before breastfeeding her baby when she consumed alcohol. That she has to throw away her milk. That it is preferable to express milk in anticipation of her baby's feedings during the times when she will consume alcohol, or even that it is better to give commercial infant formula to her child during this period.
In the book Breastfeeding Made Easy ofRenowned Spanish pediatrician Carlos Gonzales, collaborator with La Leche League International, explains the relationship between the alcohol consumed by the mother and that present in her milk. As the holiday season dawns, it is important to fully understand all of this in order to be able to make an informed choice.
The short answer to the question "can a breastfeeding mother consume alcohol while breastfeeding?" is yes.
Can she consume it without moderation? In this case, the answer is no. Besides, NO ONE should consume alcohol without moderation! This is especially true for a mother responsible for caring for a baby or child.
As Dr. Gonzales explains very well, the concentration of alcohol in the blood is about the same as in breastmilk. Thus, a mother with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (the legal limit for driving in many European countries) will feed her baby a milk containing 0.05% alcohol. Like blood, milk filters continuously. Therefore, over time, simultaneously with the descent of the blood alcohol level of the mother, her milk will become less and less alcoholic (the alcohol level in the milk would even decrease a little faster than that of the blood).
The milk accumulated “in the breasts” is not static; it is in constant transformation. Just as the blood is not still in our veins!
It may scare some mothers (and those around them) to feed achild with “alcoholic” milk. However, it is important to put things into perspective here.
Legally, in many countries, a beverage containing less than 0.5% alcohol is considered alcohol-free. We are talking here about 10 times more alcohol than a beverage containing 0.05% (the milk of the mother we were talking about above, who would have drunk enough alcohol to present a blood alcohol level of 0, 05%). For a mother to produce milk that would be considered “alcoholic” from a legal point of view, she would have to produce milk with more than 0.5% alcohol. This mother's blood should therefore contain 0.5% alcohol or more.
However, for a very heavy drinker as for an occasional drinker, a blood alcohol level of 0.5% leads to an alcoholic coma. The body simply cannot function at such blood alcohol levels. The blood of an intoxicated person (heavy drinker or occasional drinker, without distinction) will be able to reach 0.2% or 0.3% alcohol, but realistically the blood of a mother drinking moderately n ' will rarely reach 0.05%.
An occasion… not a habit
Also, since the baby drinks only a few tens of milliliters of milk per feed, the alcohol in this milk is somehow "diluted" in his little body. The baby's blood alcohol level therefore does not happen to be equal to that of the mother, and in any case, it is much lower.
So we can say that drinking alcohol is not incompatible with breastfeeding. There is therefore no need tocounting drinks or giving a breastmilk substitute to your child after a drink or two. Certainly, we start from the premise that moderation tastes much better,and that indeed, breastfeeding a child having drunk a greater or lesser quantity of alcohol involves risks: more drowsy baby, lower let-down reflex in mother, etc.
Important!A mother who knows that her milk production is already fragile, who is breastfeeding a premature baby or one with a particular problem will do well to think carefully about the matter before taking a drink.
You must also, of course, consider that the mother's sleepcould be disturbed, as well as her level of alertness.
That said, we are talking about occasional drinking here. Breast milk containing alcohol on a daily basis is certainly not ideal, and a mother with a drinking problem should seek help.
Let's also keep in mind that when we are responsible for a child, it's not just the alcohol level in the milk that matters. Being alert and responsive remains the number one priority!
We must also respect the mother who chooses to abstain from drinking completely while breastfeeding. As in all fields, we all have our limits and it is always wise to respect them.
With that, I wish you a wonderful Holiday season filled with joy, indulgence… and a glass of good wine if you like.fun and good!
Written by Élise Vidal, mother of three, La Leche League instructor
González, Carlos. 2014. Breastfeeding Made Easy: A Gift for Life for You and Your Baby (3rd edition), London: Pinter & Martin.