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Susan Elsworth, Director of INOFAS refers individuals to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to answer the question “Do I have to wait to breastfeed my baby after consuming alcohol.

Use of alcohol during pregnancy is strongly discouraged, as it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects, spontaneous abortion, and premature births, among other serious problems.47,48 (III)

Many women who significantly decrease or eliminate their alcohol intake during pregnancy may choose to resume consuming alcohol after giving birth, with approximately half of breastfeeding women in Western countries reported to consume alcohol at least occasionally.49 Alcohol interferes with the milk ejection reflex, which may ultimately reduce milk production through inadequate breast emptying.50 (III)

Human milk alcohol levels generally parallel maternal blood alcohol levels, and studies evaluating infant effects of maternal alcohol consumption have been mostly mixed, with some mild effects seen in infant sleep patterns, amount of milk consumed during breastfeeding sessions, and early psychomotor development.50 (III)

Possible long-term effects of alcohol in maternal milk remain unknown. Most sources advise limiting alcohol intake to the equivalent of 8 ounces of wine or two beers, and waiting 2 hours after drinking to resume breastfeeding.5–7,35 (III)

o ensure complete elimination of alcohol from breastmilk, mothers may consult a normogram devised by the Canadian Motherisk program to determine length of time needed based on maternal weight and amount consumed.51 (III)

Additional Information: ABM Clinical Protocol #21: Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Substance Use or Substance Use Disorder, Revised 2015

There are over the counter breast milk screens that detect alcohol in the breast milk, such as Milk Screen. These screens can help determine if breast milk is alcohol free for baby’s consumption.


What is FASD? Check Out Our FASD Resource Directory Drinking & Pregnancy

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