New Research Says It's Safe To Drink While Breastfeeding, But Here's What Moms Need To Know

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Throughout pregnancy, moms-to-be are hyper-vigilant about what they're putting into their bodies. Sushi, deli meat, soft cheeses, excess caffeine and alcohol are just a few of the foods considered on the "no no" list when growing a baby inside of you. And for mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies, some dietary restrictions continue even after delivery. For example, drinking while nursing has long been a topic of debate, but new research says it's probably safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding.

Research from Australia reveals that breastfeeding moms can indulge in a glass of wine and it can be done without causing harm to their babies — and it might even help them in the process. The study, which was published by the Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD), was presented in Melbourne this week, according to The Daily Mail. It showed that infants who had been breastfed by moms who drank moderately actually had "more favourable results for personal-social development." Yes, really. And, as the outlet noted, "most infant developmental outcomes at 8 weeks or 12 months were also unaffected."

So how did researchers come to this conclusion, you ask? The Daily Mail reported that at 12 months of age, children whose mothers had consumed alcohol while breastfeeding were compared to babies whose mothers had opted to abstain from it. Over 60 percent of nursing moms in the sample said they drank when their babies were 8 weeks old — and 70 percent reported doing so by 1 year.

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Here's the thing, though: Most moms in the study drank at low levels, meaning fewer than 14 drinks per week and less than three at a time. The majority of moms also had precautions in place (like strategically timing their drinking) in order to minimize the alcohol that might pass to their babies through breast milk.

Here are a few more notable tidbits from this research, as reported by The Daily Mail:

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  • For safe drinking, the most common strategy was to consume alcohol only after feeding the infant.
  • Moms' alcohol consumption was unrelated to breastfeeding duration, infant feeding and sleeping behavior at 8 weeks.
  • Most infant developmental outcomes at 8 weeks or 12 months were unaffected as well.
  • A child's social advantage might also be a result of their mothers going out for a drink, according to researchers. This is because a child's social development can be greatly influenced by their environment.

It's nice to have the research backing up the fact that moderate amounts of drinking — like indulging in glass of wine or relaxing with a beer — while having a nursling isn't a big deal. I mean, a mom of three was thrown in jail back in 2014 for breastfeeding her 6-month-old at a restaurant after having a few drinks. According to ABC News, a waitress had called the police, and this mom was even facing child endangerment charges. Thankfully, they were ultimately dropped, the outlet reported. (But still!) It's clear the general public doesn't know much when it comes to alcohol and breastfeeding.

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In case you're curious, though, here's what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says about how much alcohol is safe for a breastfeeding mother:

Ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake but no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kg body weight, which for a 60 kg mother is approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers. Nursing should take place 2 hours or longer after the alcohol intake to minimize its concentration in the ingested milk.
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Breastfeeding or not, I'm not a huge fan of alcohol. With that said, I have enjoyed small amounts while nursing my youngest. A few months ago, my husband and I went to a wedding and I "nursed" a fruity cocktail over the span of two hours. It wasn't much alcohol to begin with and by the time I actually breastfed my toddler daughter that night, a few more hours had passed.

Clearly, it's time to end the stigma surrounding nursing moms and moderate, responsible amounts of alcohol. Because, as the research says, the the kids are alright.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

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