by Regan Simpson August 23, 2020
In a recent article, we covered the facts on drinking alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages while pregnant. But once the pregnancy is over, is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding? And what about non alcoholic beverages? Let’s start with the current CDC guidelines on drinking while breastfeeding.
According to the CDC, the safest option is to avoid alcohol completely if you’re breastfeeding. If you want total peace of mind, opt for alcohol-free beverages while nursing. However, the CDC also states that moderate consumption of alcohol is not harmful to the nursing baby, as long as the mother waits for a few hours to nurse after drinking. Moderate consumption is considered by the CDC to be no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
The more alcohol you drink, the longer it will take for your body to process it. If alcohol is in the bloodstream, it’s also in the breast milk, so the “pump and dump” strategy does not always work. A good rule of thumb is to wait about 2 hours per drink before nursing.
But what about non alcoholic beverages? Is it safe to breastfeed after drinking a non alcoholic beer with 0.5% alcohol?
Drinking a non alcoholic beverage is always the recommended option, rather than an alcoholic beverage when it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding. But certain non alcoholic beverages do contain trace amounts of alcohol, though they must be under 0.5% ABV to qualify as “NA”.
It’s possible that a beverage labeled as non alcoholic may contain more alcohol than advertised. This is important to know during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Still, non alcoholic beverages with trace amounts of alcohol are likely to be safer than their alcoholic versions.
If you choose to consume non alcoholic beers that are not 0.0% while breastfeeding, you should still wait a few minutes before nursing (but that’s to be extra safe.) In a study of breastfeeding women, ethanol levels were only detected in breastmilk immediately after consuming 1.5 liters of non alcoholic beer within one hour. When tested an hour later, no ethanol remained in the bloodstream.
Chances are, no one is drinking 1.5 liters of non alcoholic beer within an hour. It’s challenging to drink that much of anything in an hour! This means there is a possibility that no ethanol is in the breast milk after drinking a single non alcoholic beer. If you want to reduce all risk, it’s still smart to wait a little while until nursing if you have had a non alcoholic beer.
Have you ever heard that drinking beer actually HELPS breastfeeding? Is there any truth to that? Let’s explore the truth behind this statement.
Drinking beer while breastfeeding exposes your baby to alcohol. As stated earlier in the article, if alcohol is in your bloodstream, it is in your breast milk. Milk production lessens after drinking alcohol, which means the baby consumes less milk as well. Allowing time between drinking and breastfeeding assures that there is no alcohol in the bloodstream and breast milk. This also allows milk production to return to normal.
So where does this myth come from? Beer actually does have benefits for breastfeeding mothers, but this isn’t due to alcohol- it’s actually due to the barley and hops in beer.
While alcohol isn’t beneficial to nursing moms, the other ingredients found in beer are. In particular, barely and hops have been found to be responsible for increasing milk production due to a polysaccharide. This polysaccharide (a fancy term for a carbohydrate structure) helps to stimulate prolactin secretion, the hormone responsible for nursing. By consuming drinks with higher amounts of hops or barley (like beer), moms may see a boost in milk production afterwards.
If the benefits come from barley and hops, not alcohol, then non alcoholic beer is a safer and healthier option. You will be able to enjoy a beer while gaining the breastfeeding benefits from the barley and hops, but without having to wait hours and hours to feed your baby. If you want to experience the taste of beer while also keeping your peace of mind while breastfeeding, Gruvi’s got you covered.
Check out our online store for our non alcoholic IPA, stout, weisse, and lager. And of course, our zero proof Prosecco.
If you want to completely abstain from alcohol, including the trace amounts found in non alcoholic beverages, you still have plenty of options. Many alcohol-free drinks contain absolutely no alcohol, so you can always have peace of mind while nursing. From wine to beer to mocktails, there is no shortage of zero proof drinks to enjoy. Be sure to always check the label.
Our favorite zero proof drink is always our own Prosecco. It is 0.0% ABV and it tastes great alone. Pair it with orange juice for an alcohol free mimosa, or combine it with a limitless amount of ingredients to create the perfect mocktail.
Breastfeeding women need more fluids than usual, and water gets a little boring sometimes. Create your own mocktails, or check out some recipes on our blog. If you come up with your own, create a post and tag us on Instagram!
It can be tricky to find non alcoholic options that are 0.0% ABV instead of 0.5% ABV, so be sure to always check the labels if that is a concern of yours. The trace amounts of alcohol in non alcoholic beverages come from the fermentation process. This is also a byproduct of drinks like kombucha.
In the end, choosing to drink or not to drink while breastfeeding is up to the individual and their doctor. Choosing whether to consume alcohol or not and how much to consume is a personal choice. Choosing to breastfeed or not is a personal choice as well, and we commend mother’s for whatever choices best suit their life. What works for one woman and her family may not work for the next.
No matter what someone chooses to do, we aim to provide options. Whether you want to abstain from alcohol completely or want to drink less of it, we’ve got you covered. You can decrease your consumption of alcohol or completely give it up without having to give up the taste of your favorite beer or wine.
We love mamas (and mamas to be) and want to make sure you’re never left out of the fun! You deserve a great tasting drink as much as anyone, and we want to make sure you always have it.