It was once widely believed that breastfeeding and drinking could not go together, but in recent years, experts have found that moms can safely enjoy an occasional drink while they are breastfeeding. If you’ve been relaxing with a glass of wine every now and then, you might wonder how to keep an eye on the amount transferred to your milk. But can you test your pumped milk for alcohol?
In recent years, companies like UpSpring and Pregmate have introduced breast milk alcohol strips, which are designed to detect the smallest amounts of alcohol present in your breast milk. According to Live Well Testing, the strips need to be saturated with breast milk, and after a few minutes, they will change colors if alcohol is present.
Milkscreen strips, noted Exclusively Pumping, will show different colors to indicate how much alcohol is in your milk — lighter shades indicating less alcohol, and darker shades indicating more. The article further noted that the deepest shade indicates that the breast milk is not safe to give your baby because it contains over 0.02 percent concentration of alcohol.
Why does this matter? The safety of alcohol levels in breast milk is dependent upon the amount. According to The Guardian, companies like Upspring use the 0.02 percent alcohol concentration level as a limit, based on research that studied the impact of alcohol on breastfed babies from the American Association of Pediatrics. In large amounts, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs found that alcohol in breast milk can produce side effects in babies like weakness, drowsiness, deep sleep, or abnormal weight gain, and can significantly reduce a mom’s milk supply.
La Leche League International (LLLI) suggested taking into consideration your weight, your baby’s age, the amount of alcohol, and the type or amount of food you eat when you drink. All these factors combined can give you a better idea on how much alcohol will be transferred to your milk supply. LLLI also noted that alcohol levels will peak in your breast milk about 30 to 60 minutes after you have a drink, and 60 to 90 minutes if you’ve had something to eat.
So luckily if you are worried about the alcohol levels in your breast milk, you can easily test it with milk screening strips available online and through Amazon. And if you’re still concerned, you can always breastfeed or pump right before you have a drink, eliminating any doubts you might have.