1. An acceptable level of alcohol in breastmilk hasn’t been established. Even moderate amounts can alter a baby’s sleep patterns, decrease milk intake, increase risk of hypoglycemia and impair motor development. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can decrease milk production.
2. The concentration of alcohol in breastmilk is similar to that in the mother’s bloodstream. While a baby will be exposed only to a fraction of what the mother ingests, he can process alcohol at only half the rate that adults do in his first weeks of life.
3. Pumping and dumping won’t clear the alcohol from breastmilk (neither will drinking water). Alcohol isn’t stored in breastmilk but is removed as it diffuses into the mother’s bloodstream.
4. It’s all about timing. The best thing to do is to plan ahead. Motherisk has a helpful chart (on motherisk.org) that calculates how long it takes for alcohol to clear from a woman’s system. For a 140-pound woman who enjoys two glasses of wine starting at 8 p.m., it would take four hours and 38 minutes—or until 12:38 a.m.—to clear from her breastmilk.