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Pregnancy and baby

Breastfeeding and drinking alcohol

Anything you eat or drink while you're breastfeeding can find its way into your breast milk, and that includes alcohol.

There's some evidence that regularly drinking more than two units of alcohol a day while breastfeeding may affect your baby's development. But an occasional drink is unlikely to harm your breastfed baby.

It's recommended that breastfeeding mothers have no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week.

One unit of alcohol is approximately a single (25ml) measure of spirits, half a pint of beer, or 125ml (small) glass of wine, although this depends on the strength of the drink.

To check units in other drinks, see Alcohol Concern's alcohol unit calculator.

Managing social occasions

If you do intend to have a social drink, you could try avoiding breastfeeding for two to three hours per unit after drinking. This allows time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk. You will need to make sure breastfeeding is established before you try this.

You may want to plan ahead by expressing some milk before a social function. Then you can skip the first breastfeed after the function and feed your baby with your expressed milk instead. 

Bear in mind your breasts may become uncomfortably full if you leave long gaps between feeds.

Risks of binge drinking

Binge drinking, where you have more than five units of alcohol in one session, may make you less aware of your baby's needs. If you do binge drink, it's essential your baby is cared for by a sober adult. 

Never share a bed or sofa with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol. Doing this has a strong association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Alcohol and your breast milk supply

There's no evidence that alcohol, including stout, helps you produce more milk.

Rest, being well in yourself, and letting your baby breastfeed whenever they want will all help increase your milk supply.

See how else you can boost your breast milk supply.

Page last reviewed: 29/01/2016

Next review due: 29/01/2018

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