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Alcohol & Breastfeeding- Why you may not need to Pump and Dump


When to Pump and Dump

I love wine. Wine loves me. We have had a healthy, long term relationship for many years now. After a 9 month long break from each other, I was excited to reunite with wine, but was it safe to do while breast feeding? I figured if anything I could just pump and dump my milk, right? I quickly learned that pumping and dumping was totally not necessary.

Moderation is key when it comes to indulging in your favorite alcoholic drink. 1 glass of wine is not going to effect your baby if you time it right. Any time I want to have a glass, I always pour it right after Emmy’s final feeding of the night. I know she won’t be up for at least 6-8 hours and the drink will be long out of my system by then. provides this awesome chart to help you see how long it will take alcohol to get out of your system based on your weight.

So, what it you have a big night out and plan on having multiple drinks? Then you have to pump and dump, right?

Well, er, yes… wait, maybe not. Pumping and dumping is becoming so much less common then it has been in the past. I think this is because of mama’s becoming more educated on how alcohol enters their breast milk and leaves their body. Let’s say you have 4 drinks in one hour (whoa). The old fashioned pumping and dumping method claimed that pumping out all the alcoholic milk within the next hour would leave you with clean milk. No way, drunky monkey. As long as their is alcohol in your blood stream, there is alcohol in your breast milk. Exactly how much alcohol? A much, much smaller amount than you blood-alcohol level, but it still may be too much for baby.

If you want a fool proof way to see if you baby milk is booze free- you can buy these: Milkscreen: Home Test to Detect Alcohol in Breast Milk 8 Test Strips.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Alcohol and breastfeeding- strips to test if there is alcohol in your breastmilk

Now, I have personally pumped and dumped for the sake of my breast milk supply. If I have a girls night and have 2-3 drinks and feed my baby a bottle of expressed breast milk for her late night feeding, I will pump and dump my milk. Why?- because there is still alcohol in my system so the milk is no good but I don’t want to start effecting the supply and demand system of my milk makin’.

But if you don’t take this step, the alcohol will still leave your breast milk just as it leaves your blood stream. It’s totally not necessary to pump and dump to  make your milk safe again for baby.

Is this still all really confusing and scary? It can be at first when you think about it. But follow this general rule of thumb: If you shouldn’t drive a car, don’t nurse your baby. Always have a few bags of frozen breast milk ready if you are planning on having a big night out. Do your research and talk to you doctor if you want more information.



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