Did you know?One unit of alcohol =
- a small glass of wine (125ml)
- half a pint of beer
- single measure of a spirit (25ml)
The most important thing is to include a wide variety of fresh, healthy foods in your breastfeeding diet.
If you think something you're eating is affecting your baby through your breast milk, talk to your GP or health visitor, or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.
When you'e breastfeeding, traces of what you eat and drink pass through to your breast milk. And while it's safer not to drink alcohol, an occasional drink (i.e. 1 or 2 units, once or twice a week) is unlikely to harm your baby.
On average, it takes about 2 to 3 hours for a glass of wine or beer to leave your system, so it's best to wait a few hours to breastfeed. Obviously the more you drink, the longer it takes. If your baby is under 3 months old, it will take them longer to process the alcohol, as their liver is still developing.
If you express before drinking alcohol, your baby can be bottle-fed with your breast milk. If you need to miss a feed, don't let your breasts become uncomfortably full as this can lead to mastitis. It's best to express your breast milk rather than be uncomfortable.
If you've been drinking, never sleep with your baby. There is a strong link between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and alcohol. If you know that you're going to have a few drinks, arrange for another (sober) adult to look after your baby.
If you drink large amounts of alcohol regularly and you feel you need some help cutting down, there's lots of support available.
These tips on cutting down may be helpful, but if you'd rather talk to someone you can always speak to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist.
These counselling services also offer confidential help and support: