Despite common misconception, breastfeeding and enjoying an alcoholic beverage don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, most experts now say that it's perfectly fine for breastfeeding moms to have the occasional drink, as long as it's well timed with their nursing or pumping schedule. But learning how soon you can breastfeed after drinking alcohol is imperative for every nursing mom who likes to let loose every now and then. (And, let's be real here, by "let loose" I mean sit on the couch with a glass of wine and a chocolate bar after the baby goes to bed.)
According to La Leche League International (LLLI,) the risks of consuming alcohol while breastfeeding aren't comparable to the risks of doing so while pregnant. When you're pregnant, alcohol directly passes from the mother's blood into her baby's blood. Breastfeeding and drinking, however, is a bit different. Although a portion of the alcohol you ingest will enter your breastmilk (just like anything else you ingest,) it also passes out of your milk just as easily with a little bit of time, LLLI noted.
But how much time? According to Mama Natural, that's entirely dependent on how much you drink. LLLI also noted that "alcohol content peaks 30 to 60 minutes after consumption" and that within two to three hours, the alcohol content from one serving of beer or wine will have passed out of her system. Obviously, the more you drink, the longer it takes to pass out of your system. Timing and moderation is everything.
So, to put it simply, avoiding alcohol altogether is an unnecessary restriction for a nursing mom. However, since alcohol does pass into your milk, it's best to feed your baby right before you have your drink, that way you have plenty of time for the alcohol to leave your system before feeding again.