Beverages and breastfeeding

Hmmm beverages and pregnancy and breastfeeding. What a minefield.

When I was pregnant with the Sproglette, I didn’t drink per se, but if Mr Moi was trying a new beer or wine, I had a sip to get a taste. With Harrie, I couldn’t be bothered engaging in something so futile, and so it transpires that I haven’t had alcohol all year.

The official information for alcohol consumption in pregnancy is very black and white – no alochol at all – but woman has an anecdote claims, “My/my friend’s/Dr Google’s OB said it was OK to have a glass of wine every now and then”.

It doesn’t help that the current generation of grandmas – i.e. the mothers of current child birthers – in the main part were never given any ‘don’t eat this, don’t drink that’ advice, and they can make you feel like a paranoid fool for following the current advice that is out there.

The reality is that the trend in drinking habits of Australians have changed since grandmas gave birth. Firstly, we drink a lot more – so much so that binge drinking is often the norm for many people. Secondly, we drink in the home when we’re not socialising. This was not the norm in the 60s and 70s.

There is a similar quandary with alcohol and breast feeding. Some sources claim that the amount of alcohol that escapes into breastmilk is minimal. Others claim it flows freely and you’ll seriously damage your baby if you drink and breastfeed. The hospital where I had the Sproglette serves a glass of wine with dinner, for goodness sake – and it’s a dedicated maternity hospital. Conflicting messages anyone?

When I was breastfeeding the Sproglette, I adhered to the rule regarding alcohol consumption – if you want to drink, do it while you’re feeding or just after you’ve fed. This will ensure it’s left the bloodstream by the time you feed again.

This time, I simply can’t be bothered. Timing the drinking, stressing that you might have to feed the baby earlier than planned – it’s all too much for far too futile an outcome. I haven’t had a drink all year, I can’t be bothered starting now.

I did, however, drink coffee all throughout my pregnancy with Harrie. Just one small coffee per day – my one indulgence. Since having her, though, I wonder what effect caffeine has on babies who are breastfed, seeing as anything that is drunk flows into the breast milk.

Food (and drink) for thought.


6 thoughts on “Beverages and breastfeeding

  1. As far as I know coffee goes through the breastmilk too. I had one coffee a day when I was pregnant and now that I’m breastfeeding I still limit to one a day.

    As for alcohol, I never drank when I was pregnant but when I’m feeding I’ll have the odd glass of wine with dinner if I know its a few hours until bubba feeds. Although according to the ABA website, a breastfeed with a small amount of alcohol in it is still better than a formula feed (though I’m not sure if I believe this).

    I guess it’s one of those tricky things that there is no real answer too and you just have to make the best decision you can 🙂

  2. I’m nearly 26 weeks pregnant and I drink a coffee most days… Never more than one though. I do eat chocolate fairly freely though so this probably increases my caffeine intake somewhat??

    As for alcohol, I had a very stressful day a couple of weeks ago and went out to buy a pear cider. I drank one third of it in a big wine glass topped up with sparkling mineral water. I had a second third the following day with dinner and have the last 100ml to my husband because I was afraid of what drinking (albeit in a very low capacity) three days in a row would do to my poor baby.

    There are such conflicting ideas out there. I guess we just have to do what feels right for us.

  3. It seems like with all of our modern conveniences and technology we’ve got lots of time to worry about things that nobody used to give a second thought to. You’re doing awesome and Harrie’s amazing. Apart from the exotic sorts of pharmaceuticals that have been shown to cause birth defects (thank you 1970s) I don’t think you need to worry about the daily coffee you had.

  4. Supposedly – dark beer makes your milk run. (that is one of those old myths so you can drink beer).

    I never drank during pregnancy simply because if I didn’t want to risk anything – and if my baby had come out unhealthy – I would have totally blamed myself.
    However – after baby #1 I did indulge in a few drinks here and there while breastfeeding…but of course since I hadn’t drank during pregnancy my tolerance was way lower – so my limit was only 1 anyway. And I figured that was okay every once in a while.

  5. I think in England the London College of Surgeons say 5 units per week is okay. I had the occasional glass of red wine during both of my pregnancies. I think each woman has to do what she’s comfortable with (within reason!).

  6. With the Worm I had no more than 1or 2 drinks per week (well apart from a trip to Melbourne, when the waiter kept on topping my glass up without me realising!). My OB said that no more than 2 drinks in any one night, or maximum of 4 per week was ok – HOWEVER these are obviously standard drinks- and really- who pours a standard drink these days!
    Now I’m breastfeeding I stick with the drink a glass of wine during the feed or directly afterwards. I have had one evening when I had 3 glasses, but I checked the ABA website & ensured that I had allowed enough time before feeding again (I had some EBM ready just in case she woke up early)
    As far as coffee goes as soon as I found out I was pregnant I reduced my coffee intake from 5 per day down to 1. Now I have about 2 per day.
    This is a fantastic post Brooke – Thanks for writing it!

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