Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

I Drank Red Wine To Increase My Milk Supply, & I Have A Message For The "Old Wives"

Ad failed to load

Nursing moms with an oversupply of breast milk are a frequent component of my Instagram feed. Their ear-to-ear smiles feature prominently in the photos as they sit surrounded by a dozen milk donation bags. One mom once held up a gallon that she'd pumped in only one day. I often find myself wondering whether such a supply is a miracle of luck and genetics, or whether these moms are taking active steps to boost their production. Had any tried the old wives' tale of drinking red wine to increase milk supply, for example?

Since having my daughter Luna eight months ago, I've flicked through such images in desperate longing and utmost confusion. Pumping more than four ounces of the stuff in a 24-hour period is unfathomable to me. Although I don't struggle with under-supply, per se, and my daughter is able to get as much milk as she needs when directly feeding from my breasts, expressing milk is another story entirely. This means I can very rarely leave her with a sitter for more than a couple of hours at a time.

Recently, I tried to increase my milk supply by drinking 96 ounces of water a day. The experiment proved wildly successful, taking my average pumping production from approximately two ounces in 24 hours to a solid eight ounces in the same amount of time. Having also heard of folks who drink dark beer to improve breastmilk production, I thought it was high time to try my hand at adding more alcohol into my own daily routine. Why not, right?

Ad failed to load

The Experiment

The internet is full of tips to increase one's milk supply. One of the most well-known hacks is drinking red wine to increase your supply. The idea seems to be that wine (like beer) aids in relaxation, and apparently, relaxed moms have an easier time with milk let-down (which did make me wonder how any mom can produce breast milk in the first place).

Mommy forums seemed chock full of success stories from ladies who confirmed that a glass of red wine a day really does keep the breast milk flowing. One mom even claimed to pump 18 ounces in one morning, having had some red wine the night before. Another said that her breasts felt extra full within one hour of boozing.

Ad failed to load

With that in mind, I decided to add a glass of Spanish red into my nighttime routine. I made sure to give myself at least two hours in between consuming the wine and feeding Luna, so the booze would be out of my system. Let's just say the results weren't what I was expecting.

Day 1: So, I Don't Actually Love Red Wine

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina
Ad failed to load

I began Day 1 feeling cautiously optimistic about this experiment. Since having a baby and becoming very well-acquainted with sleep deprivation, I've often felt the call of indulging in a nice cocktail (or three). As with most me-time-related activities, however, I've rarely gotten around to buying myself any. An attempt to boost my supply felt like the perfect excuse to finally do so.

I tried to tell myself that this was a fluke. Perhaps my body simply needed to adjust to the wine. Perhaps in two days' time, I'd suddenly wake up and be able to pump 18 ounces like that mother from the forum. I just had to stick with it.

When dinnertime arrived, however, I remembered that I don't especially enjoy red wine. Alcohol, in general, is known to be extremely dehydrating since it causes water to be flushed out of the body much more rapidly than usual. I've often found red wine to be particularly dehydrating and hangover-inducing. As I sipped the Rioja from my Walmart-purchased goblet, I found myself wondering why I thought this was a good idea.

Ad failed to load

That said, I did feel ever-so-slightly more relaxed in the hour after drinking. At the peak of my early-20s partying, it would've taken me two bottles of wine to get a little tipsy. These days, it only seemed to take one glass.

Unfortunately, my boobs didn't feel particularly full when it came time for Luna's last feed. Maybe they would in the morning.

Day 2: What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina
Ad failed to load

Nope. My boobs did not feel full that morning. Not even a little bit. After giving Luna her first feed of the day, I brought out the pump. Since incorporating more water into my life, I've been able to express about four ounces first thing in the morning. On this particular morning, however, after pumping both breasts dry, I was staring at half an ounce.

Once again, I woke up to soft, floppy boobs. This was not what I'd signed up for.

I tried to tell myself that this was a fluke. Perhaps my body simply needed to adjust to the wine. Perhaps in two days' time, I'd suddenly wake up and be able to pump 18 ounces like that mother from the forum. I just had to stick with it.

Ad failed to load

That evening, I dejectedly poured myself another glass. Luna hadn't seemed hungry throughout the day, so at least the wine hadn't dried me out so much that my regular milk production was being affected. By bedtime, however, my breasts actually felt less full than unusual. I was struggling to maintain my optimism.

Day 3: You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina
Ad failed to load

Once again, I woke up to soft, floppy boobs. This was not what I'd signed up for.

I decided that it might be beneficial to drink my designated glass of wine at lunchtime. Maybe I just wasn't giving my body enough time to make some magic. Maybe something about drinking so close to bedtime was the problem.

What I found was actually that I felt more dehydrated and less full of milk than I had in months. Pumping on this day was even more difficult. I managed to express only half an ounce over 14 hours. Luna still seemed satisfied enough when directly nursing, but there was no way I could keep this up if I ever wanted to leave her with a babysitter. It became very clear that the moms of internet forums were either lying, or they simply had very different bodies to my own.

Ad failed to load
I don't doubt this method works for some folks. But red wine was definitely not the one for me.

Conclusions: Never Again

Although I had set out to try to incorporate wine into my diet for at least a week, I couldn't continue the experiment for longer than three days. Not only did the wine feel dehydrating to drinkt, but it was clearly drying out my body in the hours after consumption. It was drying me out so much, in fact, that I had a few good cries in the bathroom while staring at my basically-empty pump.

Ad failed to load

Our bodies vary so much individual to individual that I don't doubt this method works for some folks. In fact, after increasing my supply by drinking water, I heard a lot of moms say that doing so hadn't helped them at all. What this has shown me, if nothing else, is that we should be open to trying as many different methods to increase our supplies as possible until we find the right one for our bodies and routines.

Red wine was definitely not the one for me. Its adverse effects were highly disappointing, so for now, I'll be sticking to H2O — no matter how relaxing that goblet of Rioja might've been.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack