Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Should breast feeding mothers drink alcohol?
Dr Alex Tang
Pregnant mothers should not drink alcohol. This is because alcohol especially in the first trimester may interfere with the fetal development and causes abnormalities. Fetal Alcohol syndrome is a known condition in newborn that is associated with excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy. What about mothers who are breast feeding? Can they enjoy a glass or two of beef or wine?
A website popular with breast feeding mothers have this to say
When alcohol is ingested and absorbed in your gut. It is then detoxed by your liver, broken down into acetaldehyde which are then excreted. This takes time. In the meantime, some of the alcohol is being excreted into the breast milk. Depending on how young your baby is, he or she may not have the enzymes to detox the alcohol. This is what happens when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy. The alcohol in the mother’s blood cross the placenta and affect the fetus because the fetal liver do not have the enzymes to detoxify the ethanol. Hence the fetal abnormalities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy on Breast feeding and the use of Human Milk considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding but recommends
Mothers who are breastfeeding can safely consume moderate amount of alcohol. They do not have to throw away their expressed breast milk because breast milk do not contain alcohol unless it was expressed within 2 hours of alcohol consumption. Mothers who consumes large amount of alcohol affects their baby not by their breast milk but in their ability to take good care of their newborn.
It is a myth that breast feeding mothers cannot drink alcohol. However it is prudent to consume it in moderation.
29 July 2015
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