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Drinking…while Breastfeeding

by Arielle J on August 14, 2017

Wow! I really had no idea that my instagram post on Friday – a photo of me sipping on a glass of wine while breastfeeding during dinner – would stir up so many people.

I am very aware that there could be major concerns with drinking and breastfeeding, so I have referenced an informative article by Dr. Bridget Young who specializes in Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition at Cornell University. She is passionate about optimizing infant health and improving the experience of breastfeeding mothers. In this article, Dr. Young further explains the safety of drinking a glass of wine while breastfeeding.


First, a little about me and Be Well with Arielle:
I am a Certified Health Coach, healthy chef and a new mom of a 5 month old. I created this blog and my @bewellwitharielle instagram account to share my healthy lifestyle specifically with other women, and more recently, mothers. My intention is to inspire others to live well and feel great everyday in an approachable and positive way by treating your body with quality care while avoiding deprivation.

I rarely drink and when I do, I make responsible decisions that are best for me, my baby and my family.

For those breastfeeding mamas who like to enjoy a glass of wine, below are some important considerations next time you are considering a drink.

The amount of alcohol that is actually transferred to baby:
According to Dr. Young, “the alcohol exposure to the breastfed baby is super minimal.” In her post, it mentions that the BAC (blood alcohol content) for a woman at my weight after one glass of wine is approximately .02%. Put into context, that is way lower than the naturally occurring levels of alcohol in orange juice (0.5% alcohol is from the natural fermentation of sugar in juice)!

In other words, the amount of alcohol in one glass of wine that transfers to my breast milk while breastfeeding my five month old is not significant enough to have impact on my baby.

The timing of drinking and breastfeeding matters:
Many people expressed concern about me sipping on a glass of wine while I was breastfeeding. Actually, when it comes to breastfeeding and drinking, Dr. Young agrees that an occasional glass is best consumed during a breastfeeding session as the alcohol has not affected the breast milk yet and there is ample time for it to process by the next feeding session. 

Dr. Young says, “Your BAC (blood alcohol level and thus your milk alcohol) is highest 30 – 90 [minutes] after drinking. Since alcohol leaves the breast milk as quickly as it enters, we can take advantage of timing to even further minimize any infant exposure. This way [the baby] is exposed to very minimal alcohol and then [the mother has] at least 3 hours before [the baby’s] next feed, which is plenty of time to process 1 glass of wine.” Not to mention, what you eat before, during and after you drink plays a role in how your body metabolizes the alcohol, as well. 

The age of baby:
Dr. Young says that you should take into account how long it takes for your baby to eat and if your baby is younger than 3 months (which may affect their ability to process alcohol). In my case, my baby is 5 months and eats in just 15-20 minutes.

To breastfeed/not breastfeed or to pump and dump:
When I have more than one drink (which is actually extremely rare) or if I feel tipsy (not often), I choose to not breastfeed Gemma or save my pumped milk. This may be overly cautious, especially given the science noted above, but I believe that listening to my body is the best decision for me and my baby. I am grateful that I am able to produce milk so I treat it with respect and protect it like liquid gold but it’s simple – when I don’t feel like myself, I won’t breastfeed her and I won’t save the milk, either.

As a breastfeeding mama, here is what I consider when drinking while breastfeeding or deciding to pump and dump:
– the amount of alcohol I consume and plan to consume
– when I drink (in relation to when I breastfeed/pump)
– the alcohol content of the drink
– what I eat before I feed, during and after, as well as the amount of water that I drink before, during and after
– how much I weigh
– how old my baby is

We all have different ways of parenting so I hope that every mom and dad (and caregiver) makes personal decisions based on their own research and consults with their own trusted experts so they are able to do the best for their family’s sanity, health and lifestyle. 

I look forward to continuing the conversation of breastfeeding and shining light on it in a positive way. Wishing you all ease (and fun) on your journey of parenthood.


be positive. be supportive. be well.


be well,

Dr. Bridget Young is a doctor of Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Colgate University and a PhD from Cornell University in Nutritional Science. She specializes in maternal and child nutrition and is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). She conducts clinical research in the department of Pediatric Nutrition at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and is currently studying how breast milk is affected by maternal characteristics including diet, and how differences in milk affect infant growth patterns. She is passionate about optimizing infant health and improving the experience of breastfeeding mothers. What a perfect expert to weigh in on this conversation! For more information on Dr. Bridget Young, visit

P.S. For those of you who asked about my breastfeeding cover, you can find it here.

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