Contrary to popular belief, nursing moms are not forbidden from having the occasional alcoholic beverage. In fact, you might not even have to "pump and dump" so long as enough time has gone by since your last drink. But that beds that question, how to tell if there's alcohol in your breast milk?
According to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and owner and author of Kelly Mom, the amount of alcohol in your breast milk depends on many factors: the number of drinks you've had, what you are drinking, whether or not you have eaten, and your body type. La Leche League International (LLLI) noted that typically, adult metabolism of alcohol is approximately one ounce in three hours, therefore the more drinks you have, the longer it will take your body to clear the alcohol from your system.
The amount of alcohol that passes into your breast milk will peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, or 60 to 90 minutes if you were drinking and eating. The good news is that alcohol does not become "trapped" in your breast milk. As it begins to exit your bloodstream, it also exits your milk supply – but pumping won't speed up this process. Bonyata suggested that unless your breasts are engorged, you can simply wait a few hours and feed your baby safely without having to pump and dump in between.
Baby Center recommended waiting at least two hours after having an alcoholic beverage before breastfeeding your baby, but your best bet is to wait until your baby won't be nursing for a few hours if you plan on having a drink. If you're thinking of having more than one drink, you should have a bottle or two of previously expressed milk handy. According to Baby Center, researchers have found that the breast milk of women that weigh 120 to 175 pounds can take up to nine hours to be alcohol-free if they've consumed three to four drinks. If you have to pump during this time to relieve engorgement, you should throw the milk out.
As a reminder, for the safety of your baby, do not bed-share or breastsleep on nights that you've been drinking.