How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk?

Having a drink when you need to relax or celebrate an event in your life shouldn’t be a problem. You can still do that if you are breastfeeding, as long as you pay attention to certain important things!

Find the answers to these frequent alcohol-related questions on page: How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk?, How long after drinking can I nurse?, and Do you have to pump and dump after drinking?

Staying informed is crucial if you don’t want to be taking any risks as a breastfeeding mother.


Breastfeeding your baby comes with different limitations. One of the most important diet restrictions to pay attention to is your alcohol intake. You will hear that you shouldn’t drink at all if you are breastfeeding, but things don’t have to be so drastic.

Let’s find out everything you need to know about the impact of your alcohol intake while you are breastfeeding.

How Long After Drinking Can I Nurse?

How Long After Drinking Can I Nurse?

The time alcohol stays in your system depends also on the amount of alcohol you indulge in.

  • As a general rule, you should remember that alcohol stays around 3 hours in your system if you have just one drink. One drink could mean one beer or one glass of wine.
  • If you double this quantity, it will take 5 or 6 hours to eliminate it and if you triple it, it might need up to 9 hours to get out of your system. However, things are not always black and white when it comes to this time frame.
  • So, as long as you allow several hours to go from your one drink until the breastfeeding time you should be on the safe side.
  • If you don’t want to take any risks but you still like to enjoy a drink every now and then, it might be a wise decision to invest in a set of strips to test alcohol in breastmilk. These strips will tell you if there is any alcohol in your breastmilk and even the estimated concentration.
  • Some of them will even tell you how long you should wait until it is safe to breastfeed your baby.
  • Having such a kit of strips is definitely a good investment to make that will take a lot of stress of your shoulders.
How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk? 1

Do You Have to Pump and Dump After Drinking?

Do You Have to Pump and Dump After Drinking?

The “pumping and dumping” myth is a controversial one. Some mothers think this is necessary in order to stay on the safe side while others might have a different opinion.

Doctors and lactation experts are also split in two categories when it comes to this myth.

  • If you are not familiar with what pumping and dumping method is, it is very self explanatory. It means you pump your milk and dump it rather than feed it to your baby or store it for future meals.
  • It is safe to do but also pointless as it will not help reduce the alcohol concentration in the milk.
  • Pumping can help reduce breast engorgement so this is definitely something that might help you. But you don’t have to dump the milk also.
  • You can simply pump your milk when you are sure it is safe to store it or give it to your baby.
  • Pumping and dumping breastmilk will not eliminate the alcohol from it. If any concentration of alcohol reached your breastmilk, this is not a solution to get rid of it.
  • The amount of alcohol that got in your blood will also be found in your milk.
How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk? 1

The alcohol will stay there until it is eliminated in a natural way. This can take several hours as we saw previously.

How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk? 1

Key References

  • “Breastfeeding: the first few days – NHS”. Accessed January 04, 2020. Link.
  • “Alcohol | Breastfeeding | CDC”. Accessed January 04, 2020. Link.


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