From the Australian Government Department of Health (as of 2023), research by experts has concluded that, ‘no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy or while breastfeeding has been identified.’

However as Vaughne shares, ‘having an occasional glass of wine or gin and tonic while breastfeeding is considered safe - in fact, a recent Australian study confirmed that there are no known adverse effects in babies under 12 months exposed to low levels of alcohol via breast milk’.

With both bits of information in mind, if you do choose to drink any alcohol while breastfeeding, the Royal Women’s Hospital suggests the below rationale and pragmatic advice;

If you drink alcohol, wait two hours for every standard drink before breastfeeding.

  • One standard drink – wait two hours.
  • Two standard drinks – wait four hours.

The Royal Women’s Hospital goes on to suggest that ‘even if you feel slightly drunk or tipsy it’s better to avoid breastfeeding’. Vaughne expands on this;

  • Alcohol can make you tipsy, which can reduce your ability to respond in a timely manner to your baby’s needs.
  • No parent should ever co-sleep if they have drunk alcohol (this is unsafe practice which could cause risk to your baby), and alcohol inhibits your ability to absorb nutrients - which can undo a lot of good work done with diet and supplements, or exacerbate postnatal depletion.
  • Most importantly, if you are drinking alcohol to cope, I highly recommend reaching out to someone you trust, as this can indicate that you need more support and community help.

If you are planning on heading out for a few drinks, you could pump prior to the outing and prepare some bottles. When you get home and need to ease discomfort from engorged breasts, rather than breastfeed your baby, you can choose to ‘pump and dump’, which is pumping and then discarding of breastmilk.

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