And although some may not like my answer, my answer is always "Maybe." Why is that always me answer? Well it really depends on YOU, your situation, and what you deem "drinking conservatively" means. When you think drinking conservatively does t\it mean one to two glasses or one to two whole bottles of wine? if you're the latter then I highly suggest waiting until your child is near weaning to start lightly drinking again.
Why do I bring this up? Well, with St. Patrick's Day is coming soon and I know many of you may be wondering if and how much is safe. So I figured I would compile a few articles, research, and studies on consuming alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I will start off by saying that from personal experience (mine and quite a few others) that during breastfeeding if I were to drink one can/bottle of beer it would DRASTICALLY increase my milk supply, which was vital as I was pumping for my second. The darker the beer/lager, the better.
New study shows no harm from moderate drinking in pregnancy, but experts urge caution"A new study adds fuel to the debate, finding that expectant mothers who drink moderately have children with better mental health than children of mothers who abstain. But even the author of the paper says her findings don’t mean moms-to-be should start imbibing."
to read more:
I Wrote That It's OK to Drink While Pregnant. Everyone Freaked Out. Here's Why I'm Right. by Emily Foster
" Like alcohol, Tylenol, caffeine, and anti-nausea drugs like Zofran are substances that—in moderation—are thought to be safe during pregnancy. But they are also substances that in excessive doses could be dangerous. Some women decide that they will therefore avoid them altogether because they cannot be sure. And many women, seeing the evidence in the book on alcohol, will still choose to avoid it.
But others will see the data, like the data on caffeine or Tylenol, and choose to have an occasional drink, as I did. The value of the data is not that it leads us all to the same choice, just that it introduces a concrete way to make that choice."
to read more:
Take Back Your Pregnancy
Modern pregnancy comes with a long list of strict rules, but does it have to? An economist examines the data and finds room for choice amid the familiar limits.
by Emily Foster
" When I got pregnant three years ago, I knew that I'd face lots of decisions—whether to have coffee or a glass of wine, what kind of prenatal testing to do, whether to use an epidural. I figured that I'd study the pros and cons and then make my own informed choices, as I normally did (with guidance and information from my doctor, of course).
This isn't what it was like at all."
to read more:
Breastfeeding and Alcohol
By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC
"In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom’s blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom’s body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breastmilk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.
Always keep in mind the baby’s age when considering the effect of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly."
to read more:
Can I Breastfeed and Drink Alcohol?
"Who doesn’t want to put the baby down (finally!) and have a glass of wine or beer?? Most moms want to know if they can drink alcohol and breastfeed. Previously, we’ve been told “No! Never!” Perhaps this is because experts were afraid that moms wouldn’t be able to know where to draw the line if they said “yes.” But, come on, we’re all smart, hyperaware women, right? Therefore, you know this is a complicated issue (and you should read the rest of this article), but my short answer is “yes,” you can have that one small glass of wine. And if you’re too drunk to drive, you’re too drunk to breastfeed."
to read more:
What about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding?
from LA Leche League International's FAQs
"Women are often warned to not consume alcohol during pregnancy, as ample evidence has shown that it poses a severe and avoidable risk to her unborn baby. The risks of consuming alcohol while breastfeeding are not as well defined. Breastfeeding mothers receive conflicting advice about whether alcohol consumption can have an effect on their baby, which often leaves mothers feeling like they have more questions than answers...
...The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding. It lists possible side effects if consumed in large amounts, including: drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possiblity of decreased milk-ejection reflex in the mother. The drug transfer table is available at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;108/3/776/T6
and the full text of The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals Into Human Milkcan be found at
to read more:
The following is from a blog by a mother who tested her milk for alcohol. Not one of those useless kits that you can buy at various stores, but tested at a toxicology laboratory. I will copy from her blog the method she used and the results. I think this puts the lie to the notion that women should not drink while breastfeeding or need to "pump and dump" (an appalling term) after having even one drink. The following is an exact quote from her blog:
First I took a sample of my milk (about 1 mL) prior to drinking any alcoholic beverage. I expressed the milk mid-nursing session to ensure I had a goodly portion of fore & hind milk. After completing the nursing session, I mixed myself an alcoholic beverage consisting of 2 oz of 80 proof (40%) vodka in 10 oz of soda (Sprite). I proceeded to drink the entire 12 oz in about 30 minutes. About 30 minutes after finishing (1 hour after beginning to drink), I expressed some milk (about 1 mL) and labeled it 'immediate'. I then waited 1 hour and expressed more milk (about 1 mL) and labeled it '2 hours'. In the 2 hours (from the beginning), I did not drink any more alcoholic beverages, drink other beverages, or eat any other foods. Another day, 1/2 of a beer (4.3% alcohol) and 2-6 oz glasses of wine were consumed within 1.5 hours. About an hour from the beginning of the last drink, a milk sample (about 1 mL) was taken. This sample was labeled '1 hour - 3 drinks'. Another sample was taken about an hour after that (2 hours after the beginning of the last drink). This sample was labeled '2 hours - 3 drinks'.
The samples were stored in the refrigerator until processing. An Agilent headspace instrument was used to run the tests. Propanol and ethanol standards were also tested to ensure the instrument was within limits. The instrument is maintained by the KSP Lab Toxicology Section and used in forensic determinations of blood and urine alcohol content.
The sample labeled as 'immediate' registered as 0.1370 mg/mL which correlates to 0.01370% alcohol in the sample. The sample labeled '2 hours' registered as 0.0000 mg/ml which correlates to 0.0000%. The sample labeled '1 hour - 3 drinks' registered as 0.3749 mg/mL which correlates to 0.03749% alcohol in the sample. The sample labeled '2 hours - 3 drinks' registered as 0.0629 mg/mL which correlates to 0.00629% alcohol in the sample.
The alcohol content in breast milk immediately after drinking is equivalent to a 0.0274 proof beverage. That's like mixing 1 oz of 80 proof vodka (one shot) with 2919 oz of mixer . By the way, 2919 oz is over 70 liters. Two hours after drinking one (strong) drink the alcohol has disappeared from the sample. Completely harmless to the nursing infant. Drinking about 3 drinks in 1.5 hours resulted in higher numbers, but still negligible amounts of alcohol would be transferred to the child. One hour after imbibing in 3 drinks, the milk was the equivalent of 0.07498 proof beverage. That would be like adding 1 oz of 80 proof vodka (one shot) to 1066 oz of mixer (1066 oz is over 26 liters). Two hours after imbibing in 3 drinks, the milk was 0.01258 proof. That would be like adding 1 oz of 80 proof vodka to 3179 oz of mixer (over almost 80 liters). So, even though an infant has much less body weight, any of these percentage of alcohol in breast milk is unlikely to adversely affect the baby. Bottoms up!
It's really up to you and your instincts. One to two glasses of wine or a bottle of beer/lager won't cause any harm. In fact it can help you calm down and relax (we all know stress can be very harmful to both you and your unborn child) and in most cases a beer/lager can help increase your milk supply (yay for Guinness!)
However, I firmly believe if you have a hard time stopping after one or two glasses of wine or one bottle/can of beer that you should abstain all together until baby is born and/or you're done breastfeeding.
So be safe this St. Patty's Day (and all other days) and if drinking please do so moderately! Just don't overdo it, like this mom: