5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Drink While Breastfeeding

Reasons Why You Shouldnt Drink While Breastfeeding

Guest Post by Patrick Bailey

Many breastfeeding moms want to know if it is safe to drink while breastfeeding.

While this Hot Topic has been debated time and time again, experts agree that there is a point alcohol can become harmful to your nursling. 

Today’s guest post from Patrick Bailey touches on some of the more harsh realities of alcohol and breastfeeding. These types of topics are so important to help educate breastfeeding mothers and there is value in being informed. 

Remember that every mother and body is different and therefore, no amount of alcohol from one mom to the next will have the same effects. So being informed of the risks is key!

And while one glass of wine is typically okay, there are many moms out there struggling with addiction recovery. So how many is too many when considering addiction and mental health issues? It would be naive to believe there are not moms out there who need information about alcohol and breastfeeding and are struggling daily.

The typical rule of thumb is if you are sober enough to drive, then you are sober enough to breastfeed. The real risk of alcohol and breastfeeding comes more in the form of being fit to care for your baby in most cases but there are documented risks when the consumption of alcohol is excessive.

Patrick Bailey introduces us to some things to think about when drinking and breastfeeding from a recovery and counseling standpoint.

(*Note: These are the views of the author/guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ThePumpingMommy. We take great pride in showing many sides of breastfeeding without bias and that includes some difficult topics. Thank you!)

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Drink While Breastfeeding: Is it safe to drink while breastfeeding? How does alcohol affect your nursing baby? Find out why drinking while breastfeeding might not be the best choice.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Drink While Breastfeeding

There are some women who don’t see an issue with one glass of wine occasionally and then there are some women who drink and pump their breast milk only to dump it down the drain.

Is either woman making the right choice?

Honestly, the only right choice would be to not drink at all while you’re breastfeeding. There are many reasons why a woman should not drink alcohol while they are breastfeeding and here are five of the most important ones.

Decreased Milk Production

Research has shown that if alcohol is consumed while breastfeeding, it can inhibit letdown.

This is what happens when the baby is latched and the breast milk is released from the glands to the breast.

In order for this to happen, the nerves that connect the nipples to the hypothalamus need to be intact because oxytocin allows the letdown to happen. Since alcohol can have an effect on the hypothalamus, alcohol consumption can stop the cycle of the baby eating and the milk being released to produce more.

This can temporarily decrease milk production.

If you find yourself drinking alcohol and having a decrease in milk production, it’s best that you avoid all alcohol consumption until after you are done breastfeeding.  

It’s also been shown that babies who ingest the small amounts of alcohol that enter the milk have more trouble sleeping. However, it was a small study and it was only done on two dozen infants in the 1900’s and early 2000’s.

Unsafe Practices

It’s no secret that while under the influence of alcohol, you can make some pretty bad decisions.

When you are caring for a child, the consequences can be more severe. One of the most serious things that a person can do while intoxicated is driving with a baby in the car.

Statistics show that alcohol is found to a contributor in one in every five motor vehicle accidents that involve a child. If you’re still breastfeeding your baby and you find yourself too intoxicated to drive a car, you’re probably too intoxicated to allow your child to nurse.


SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.

Although the cause is unknown, it appears that SIDS might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.

There have been studies that show mother’s who consume alcohol are more at risk of having a baby dies of SIDS.

90% of all SIDS deaths occur within the first six months of age. However, it can happen at any time within the first year.


It should be noted that there are more health issues in babies whose mothers drank while pregnant than drank while breastfeeding. However, that doesn’t mean the risks of breastfeeding and drinking risks aren’t well documented. Here are some other risks that have been gathered from research:

  • Brain & Nervous System Issues: When a mother drinks large doses of alcohol while breastfeeding, it can cause Pseudo Cushing Syndrome in babies. This is a pattern of abnormal growth, appearance, and weight gain. It can make the child have a red, round face with supraclavicular fat pads.
  • Delayed Motor Development: Even just one drink per day can cause a child to have a lower motor development than babies who have never been exposed to alcohol. Not only that, but babies exposed to alcohol can have poor memory and concentration.
  • Mental Function: Prenatal exposure to alcohol can lead to severe mental functioning. Less is known about exposure through breastfeeding, but the baby’s brain is still developing through infancy.
  • Hinders Growth: As soon as there are significant amounts of alcohol in the mother’s breast milk, the baby may find it difficult to consume. This will make them breastfeed less and it can hinder their growth.

Slowing Metabolism

Newborns have an immature liver, making it impossible for them to process alcohol. Infants up to three months of age can only metabolize alcohol at half the rate compared to an adult. The more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it will take to metabolize for both baby and mother.

Treatment For Those Who Need It

If you think that you may have a drinking problem, consider checking into a luxury alcohol rehab center where you can properly learn to control your consumption.

These rehab centers offer you gorgeous views, private rooms, pools, recreational activities, fitness centers, and more. Here, you will have access to an individualized treatment plan to best suit your issue.

Courses are generally 30,60, or 90 days, however, it can be longer if needed. Many of the alcohol treatment plans incorporate a 12-step meeting.  It’s easy to get involved with alcohol as an out or as a way to feel better, but remember, there’s help that you can get.

About the Author

patrick baileyPatrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. You can find more content by Patrick over at Elite Rehab Placement. 




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  1. Violet says:

    I think that this post has a lot of hyperbole and mom shaming, and I’m disappointed in it. It assumes that moms are not smart enough to make informed decisions about risk/benefit, like one glass of champagne at a wedding after your baby in bed is the same thing as getting wasted and driving your baby around town. I also don’t really enjoy reading a guy, who has never breastfed and who has no idea what it’s like to not be fully in charge of one’s body for years at a time, mansplain to me about how I should be conducting myself when breastfeeding. THUMBS DOWN

    • Heather Grace says:

      Hi Violet!

      Thank you for your point of view. These topics can be very hot topics and will get a lot of different perspectives. I think understanding the point of view in which the article is written helps- the author is in the mental health and addiction field. I agree, that assuming ALL moms can’t control themselves and will drink way more than they should is a silly thing to assume. But I don’t feel that is the premise of the article at all.

      Remember we all have a different journey and story. Many moms are in active recovery or have addiction issues. It would be naive to think otherwise. These are important conversations. Moms need to know the longterm risks of using alcohol which is well documented. Is this warning for the mom who drinks one glass at a wedding, no, I wouldn’t say so. Is glass of wine or beer here and there fine while breastfeeding? Yes. But everyone’s limit will be different especially if there is a history.

      I would take it with a grain of salt and more informational. You enjoy that glass of champagne! And feel better informed of the long-term consequences of alcohol abuse. These are great conversations and I appreciate you taking the time to voice your point of view! Take care!

      By the way, you might find this article about alcohol and breastfeeding a little more your speed as it does not come from a mental health or addiction standpoint =-) – you can read it here!

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