May 20, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

After a busy day, a new mom might like to relax with a glass of wine. But will alcohol make her breast milk unsafe for the baby? Elizabeth Smith, patient services coordinator and breastfeeding specialist at University of Utah Health, discusses whether it’s necessary to discard tainted breast milk in a “pump and dump.”

For a nursing mom, minimal alcohol use means no more than two drinks on an occasional basis, Smith says. 

The body clears alcohol from breast milk and the bloodstream at the same rate, so pumping and dumping won’t make milk any safer. A concerned mom should postpone breastfeeding by at least an hour after drinking, Smith says.

“By two hours, the body has metabolized the alcohol and it’s out of the breast milk,” she says.

However, pumping and dumping may be important if a mom is taking certain medications. To find out whether your medication is safe for the baby, call the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line at 801-328-2229.

women's health breastfeeding

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