Breastfeeding Awareness Week

DrinkCoach - Breastfeeding and alcohol image.jpg

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

1st August marked the start of Breastfeeding Awareness Week. If you are reading this you are likely a new mum looking for advice on whether or not it is safe to drink while breastfeeding.

Here at DrinkCoach we know that mums often talk about wanting to feel “normal” after pregnancy and for some that can mean returning to drinking.

Most parents will know that there is a lot of conflicting advice on breastfeeding and alcohol. A quick Google search can often lead to more questions:

  • How many drinks are considered “safe”?

  • Should you pump and dump?

  • How long after a drink should you wait to breastfeed?

When you are already feeling anxious about doing the right thing for your baby it is no wonder that all of the advice can be overwhelming.

We know that choosing not to drink is always the safest option, but if you do decide to drink and breastfeed here are some tips to help minimise the risks.

Moderation is key

The amount that you are drinking will determine the risk so it is important to know how much you are drinking and by that we mean understanding your units. “One or two drinks” can equal more units than people realise.

One large glass of 13% wine (250ml) contains 3.25 units of alcohol. Choosing a lower percentage wine instead means less units.

See our unit calorie calculator or download the DrinkCoach app for more information on units.

Source: UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, 2016

Source: UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, 2016

How it is served

  • Switching to a smaller glass (125ml) of the same percentage wine cuts the unit intake in half. You may want to top it up with some sparkling water to make a spritzer.


  • When your feeding has become more established plan your drink for a time when your baby normally has a longer sleep. This will allow you time to process the alcohol out of your system. The rough guideline is 1-2 hours processing time for every unit of alcohol.

Alcohol alternatives

  • We all know that babies like to change up their sleep patterns, especially when you think you have it sorted. Sticking to non-alcoholic or low alcohol alternatives means you aren’t caught out by an unexpected change in routine. There are plenty of alternatives on the market which taste pretty good.

Pump and dump?

  • If you are consuming small amounts of alcohol there is no need to pump and dump your milk unless you are doing so to relieve discomfort. Alcohol passes out of the milk at the same rate that alcohol leaves your bloodstream. If you have had one too many and feel tipsy it might be a time to reach for that expressed milk in the fridge.

Safety first

  • If you have been drinking, co-sleeping with a baby or feeding on a sofa where you may fall asleep with your baby should be avoided.

Where can you go to get more expert advice?

The LaLeche League gives an easy to read and comprehensive review of all things alcohol and breastfeeding. Does it stay stored in your breast? Does it affect how much milk the baby takes in? Will it disrupt their sleep? Read their advice here:

Let’s also not forget that mum’s health and wellbeing is important. If you are finding yourself turning towards alcohol to help you sleep, relax or deal with emotions talk to someone about it. Lack of sleep can take its toll on your emotional health and wellbeing, but you are not alone. Seeking advice and support early on can help to change this. If you want to talk to a specialist we offer face-to-face coaching sessions via Skype. You might even be able to finish that cuppa while you’re at it.

francesca sinclair