Your pregnancy and baby guide

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 2 units of alcohol a day while breastfeeding may affect your baby's development.

But an occasional drink is unlikely to harm your breastfed baby.

If you're breastfeeding, you should have no more than 1 or 2 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 a 125ml (small) glass of wine, although this depends on the strength of the drink.

Use Alcohol Concern's alcohol unit calculator to check the units in other drinks

Managing social occasions

If you do intend to have a social drink, you could try avoiding breastfeeding for 2 to 3 hours per unit after drinking.

This allows time for the alcohol to leave your breast milk. You'll 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 6 units of alcohol in 1 session, may make you less aware of your baby's needs.

If you do binge drink, your baby should be cared for by an adult who has not had any alcohol.  

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

Any type of alcohol can reduce the amount of milk you produce. Alcohol is thought to stop the milk flowing freely.

Milk stays in the breasts, giving the false impression that the breasts are making more milk.

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

Find out how you can boost your breast milk supply

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Page last reviewed: 13/12/2018
Next review due: 13/12/2021