Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

on December 8, 2014

The information mothers hear about drinking alcoholic beverages while breastfeeding is often contradictory. It can range from Grandma’s stories about the 1940 and 50’s where some hospitals provided a case of beer under each post-partum maternity ward bed as it was believed that this would promote a good milk supply to adamant conviction that breastfeeding mothers should not consume any alcohol.

With the wide variety of opinions a mother will hear, most of which come from individual experience, making an informed decision about alcohol consumption while breastfeeding can be challenging.

Two Nurslings


La Leche League Great Britain posted a tip sheet about breastfeeding and alcohol. It covers current research and provides some guiding questions for breastfeeding mothers to consider when making a decision whether or not to drink alcohol:

Summary:  When the breastfeeding mother drinks occasionally and limits her consumption to one drink, the amount of alcohol her baby receives has not been proven to be harmful. While we constantly review research, present studies indicate that although significant amounts of alcohol are secreted into breastmilk it is not considered harmful to the infant if the amount and duration are limited. The absolute amount of alcohol transferred into milk is generally low.

If a woman wants to drink but is concerned about the effect on her baby, expressed breastmilk could be stored to use for the occasion.  Alternatively a mother can wait for the alcohol to clear from her system.  If her breasts become full while waiting she can hand express or pump, discarding the milk expressed, but this will not speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body.

If consuming alcohol while breastfeeding is something that concerns a mother then she may choose to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage instead. However, many women already worry that breastfeeding is something that will not be easy to fit into their lives. Feeling their choices will be restricted, especially if they feel they will be committing an offence to have an occasional drink while breastfeeding could possibly deter women from breastfeeding, thus denying both themselves and their baby the many benefits they would get from it.



If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally






One response to “Breastfeeding and Alcohol

  1. Christina says:

    The Sicks Kids Hospital in Toronto has a program called Motherisk. On their website is page dedicated to drinking and breastfeeding with up to date scientific information. There is a chart which can tell you how long it will approximately take for a drink or two to clear your system (and your milk) based on your weight. A very helpful resource for moms!

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