In the words of musical revolutionary, Prince (or whatever he goes by these days), "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999!". Okay, well, tomorrow night, but New Year's Eve is fast approaching and a common concern from many African-American mothers (and all mothers really) is how to still enjoy a party or even an adult beverage or two while breastfeeding. Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding or must you completely abstain as you are encouraged to do during pregnancy.
In some respects this is a cultural question. The long-standing recommendation by many health-care providers has been to either enjoy the occasional drink with dinner and not worry about it or to pump and dump after a holiday party. Current information from La Leche League International suggests that 1 drink at a holiday party should not pose a problem for the nursing mother. Of course, the age of the baby, weight of mother and amount of time from drink to the next nursing are all part of the equation. The bottom line, if you are still feeling the affect of the drink or feel drunk, your baby will be getting alcohol too. It is clear that your baby will get *some* alcohol if it is in your milk. How much and what the affects will be are up for debate. As with all things parenting related you have options, which include pumping before and feeding expressed milk until the "buzz" has worn off or enjoying a non-alcoholic drink with fruit, fizz or an umbrella in it. Of course, here's your chance to find out if all your old friends and co-workers are as interesting as they think they are without the rosy lens of alcohol to help them.
There is a test to see if alcohol is in your milk but you would need to buy it ahead of time. Personally, I think if you are buying testing strips to see if your milk is safe for your baby, you have bigger problems than the occasional drink at dinner or a party. It might just be the circles I run in or the buckle of the Bible Belt in which I live but if I brought a box of Milkscreen strips to a baby shower, I think the reaction would be polite but confused. Milkscreen has been around a while and seems to be doing well as a company, so they must be serving some one's needs. If the product helps someone continue to nurse, rather than wean or introduce even one bottle of formula that may disrupt the baby's GI tract, than I think it is a good thing to have available.
There is a popular myth that you can "pump and dump" alcohol out of your breasts so the alcohol will leave your milk sooner. However, pumping will keep your supply up while not nursing your baby, the milk will contain alcohol and should not be kept. As the alcohol leaves your system, it will leave the milk, simple as that. For more information on enjoying an adult beverage during New Year's festivities or any time, see Tanya's recent post at the Motherwear Blog.
Here's to a Mocha and Milky new year! May your days be full and fruitful! Happy 2007!