Can You Drink Alcohol, Coffee, or Smoke While Breastfeeding?

Congratulations on the birth of your little one! The past few months have been tough, now that you’ve delivered can you get relaxed and pick up your drinking or smoking habit again? If you’re a breastfeeding mum, beware and keep reading.

Drinking and Breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum 6 of months after birth is recommended and encouraged in many countries, including America and Australia.

Alcohol stays in your body and can potentially pass on to your baby through breast milk intake. As a general rule, it takes approximately 2 hours for average weight women to get rid of 1 standard drink, according to American standard that’s equivalent to “12 fl oz of standard beer; 5 fl oz of table wine; 1.5 fl oz shot of distilled spirits”. Learn more about 1 standard drink herebelow.

How fast the alcohol is going to be out of your body is subjected by your weight. The chart above taken from the Australian Breastfeeding Association gives a clear guideline on how long it will take to have alcohol disappeared from your breast milk. Note that the time is in hour followed by minutes. For a 55 kg woman drinking 1 standard drink, it takes 1 hour and 55 minutes for the alcohol to be cleared out.

Even if you’re following this chart carefully, experts still advise a breastfeeding mum should keep her alcohol intake “occasional”, 1-2 times per week.

Q #1: If I pump after drinking and dump the milk, will that speed up the process of clearing out alcohol in breast milk?
A #1: No, it doesn’t. So there’s no need to pump and dump.

Q #2: Does alcohol affect my milk production?
A #2: Yes, drinking decreases your milk supply. So it’s best to avoid it if you’re an exclusive breastfeeding mum.

*Taking care of a child when you’re tipsy/ drunk is dangerous. Sleeping with your baby after consuming alcohol also increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Make sure you have someone that is sober-looking after your baby.

Coffee and Breastfeeding

A small amount of caffeine can pass to your breast milk. Drinking coffee in moderation is alright for breastfeeding mums. However, if you’re seeing coffee stimulation in your baby – fussy, constantly waking up from sleep, you should consider lowering your caffeine intake.

Q #1: Does caffeine affect my milk production?
A #1: There’s no evidence as of now that caffeine will decrease your milk production.

Check the sources of caffeine below

  • Tea
  • Coffee (of course)
  • Chocolate (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, hot chocolate, etc.)
  • Energy drinks
  • Sodas
  • Ginseng (surprise!)

Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, you can still take in caffeine without notice. When you’re trying to minimize your caffeine intake, try to substitute the above food/ drink!

Smoking and Breastfeeding

We’ve heard the negative impacts of smoking while pregnant to the mum and the baby, to name a few: miscarriage, problems with the placenta, underweight baby, birth defects, and many more. Exposing babies under ciggies smoke not only hurts their lungs but also increases the risk of asthma (bronchitis), sinus infections, ear infections, heart-rate, sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). Second-hand smoke does not do any good for anyone.

Q #1: I just can’t quit smoking, then should I stop breastfeeding?
A #1: No, you should still continue breastfeeding, as breastfeeding still brings crucial benefits to your bub.

Q #2: Does ciggies affect my milk production?
A #2: Yes, smoking results in lower milk production. Try to quit smoking if you can. Seek help when you need to.

Hope this article gives you a second thought before you drink, smoke, or consume an excessive amount of caffeine.


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