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The Drinking and Breastfeeding Controversy

Drinking and breastfeeding has been in the news recently after a mother in North Dakota pleaded guilty to child neglect after breastfeeding her infant while intoxicated. Fox and friends had a short segment on drinking and breastfeeding which you can view here. Once again, an “expert” was called that probably shouldn’t be putting ideas in the minds of current or prospective breastfeeding mothers.

Is Dr. Svetlana Kogan being sponsored by the formula companies to scare all women away from breastfeeding with her blanket, ridiculous approach to drinking and breastfeeding?

She claims that nursing mothers should wait 24 hours before breastfeeding after having even one drink. Nursing mothers around the world drink a glass of wine with dinner. As the Fox anchor noted, her own doctor (and many other doctors and lactation consultants) recommend having a glass of beer, Guinness in particular, to increase supply in the early postpartum days.

Guinness Draught in "Tulip" shaped glass
Image via Wikipedia

The anchor seemed to think the doctor was extreme, noting that there is a whole school of thought that formula is never better than breastmilk and that pumping and dumping one time is a reasonable approach for many breastfeeding mothers after they have had a drink.

A more commonsense and breastfeeding friendly approach is to tell women, yes it is OK to leave the house, yes it is OK to be social. Do not breastfeed drunk. Do not breastfeed if you cannot or should not drive. Do not breastfeed if you feel tipsy or buzzed. Be more cautious when nursing a 6 day old baby than a six month old baby. Drink with food. Drink after your baby goes to bed and wont be nursing for awhile. Stick to one drink. Isn’t this commonsense?

According to a quote taken from the La Leche League’s page on drinking and breastfeeding:

Dr. Jack Newman, member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, says this in his handout “More Breastfeeding Myths”:

Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.

Do not discourage women who are already embarrassed, uncomfortable and afraid to nurse in public to not breastfeed for 24 hours after one drink. That is only encouraging plugged milk ducts, mastitis, angry babies and premature weaning.

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Sheryl is the CEO/President of A Much Better Way LLC and the natural family living superstore, Betterra.com. Sheryl blogs for fun about ecommerce, eco and kid friendly travel, attachment parenting and anything else that she finds fascinating.

13 Comments

  1. A. Cat. · July 2, 2009 Reply

    I just happened to come to your blog and I thought this was interesting since I am (or used to be…pre-pregnancy) a beer-drinker myself. I asked my doctor her thoughts on drinking and breastfeeding and she told me it is fine for the most part…as long as you don’t over do it, of course.

    Oh yes, and to my surprise they actually sell breast milk-testers at Babies R Us to test alcohol content in breast milk. I have yet to try them, but I am sure they will come in handy someday.

  2. fiona macvane · July 3, 2009 Reply

    This is ridiculous scaremongering. When I had my second child in the UK all breastfeeding mothers were given a bottle of stout every evening to help them relax and to increase their milk supply. It was also a technique used by old German midwives when mothers were slow to lactate. Mother’s milk is ALWAYS better and safer than formula. Just be sensible. A glass of wine with dinner or a glass of beer will not hurt your baby.

  3. Drinking and Breastfeeding Part 2 | A Much Better Blog · July 23, 2009 Reply

    [...] recently posted about the drinking and breastfeeding controversy after watching some nonsense at Fox News about the subject. The issue was brought to light after [...]

  4. Isis · November 2, 2009 Reply

    Is there any controversy on this issue? I guess everyone should know that women shouldn’t breastfeed her child if she is drunk.She can breastfeed her child after 3 hours.

  5. heather@dental assistant training · December 24, 2009 Reply

    My sister breastfed her daughter and she also loved to drink. So what she would do a lot of the time is use a breast pump to pump the milk out and then refrigerate it – now she is able to get drunk, drink, or whatever and still have the breast milk available for the youngster when she is hungry :mrgreen:
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  6. Cycling Holidays Europe · April 8, 2010 Reply

    Nice post, good work. I have recently started my own blog so its handy to pickup tips from what you have going here. Many Thanks.

  7. Indian handicrafts · April 15, 2010 Reply

    Why was she even getting drunk to begin with? She’s a new mother! Maybe she needs to go to rehab instead of prison…

  8. Truman Dettor · May 18, 2010 Reply

    If you are not committing any sins, you are probably not having a lot of fun. :)

  9. Food Insurance · October 19, 2010 Reply

    In response to one of the earlier posts about her sister pumping before drinking…that was a really good idea.

  10. louise@Wines in Worcester · November 16, 2010 Reply

    It certainly is commonsense, unfortunately, not all mums have it.

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  13. Ward Mand · May 21, 2012 Reply

    Another effective clogged milk duct treatment is to feed the baby through a dangle feeding. This procedure is done by letting down your breast on top of the baby while feeding
    Ward Mand recently posted..What To Do If You Have Clogged Milk Duct During Pregnancy

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