Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 2nd February 2024 | All Sources

Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding: The Facts

It is strongly advised that you avoid alcohol during your pregnancy. But what if you have given birth and are breastfeeding? Should you still cut it out?

happy young family with baby breastfeeding

If there are levels of alcohol in your bloodstream then it is likely that you will have alcohol in your breast milk. These levels will be at their greatest between half an hour to an hour after drinking alcohol.

If you have been drinking while eating food, you should leave things for at least two hours before breastfeeding to ensure that the alcohol has left your system, although this time frame will depend on the amount you have had to drink.

If you have had a single glass of wine for example, this will take two hours to clear from your system; drinking more than this will take much longer.

It should be noted that your baby may develop issues with sleeping if you drink alcohol and then breastfeed. This is because of the hormones that are produced when you drink alcohol, which are then passed on to your baby.

Drinking alcohol after you have recently given birth can also hinder the chances of you having sufficient breast milk for your baby to consume, and levels could be depleted by up to 20%. You may therefore have to use a formula alternative to meet your baby’s feeding needs.

It is therefore strongly advised to avoid alcohol where possible to ensure complete health of your baby and to ensure that you have enough breast milk.

If you must drink, it is recommended to have a single unit straight after you have completed breastfeeding, to ensure that this alcohol can properly leave your system before your baby requires a further feed.


Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Pregnancy

The more alcohol you drink while pregnant, the greater the risk to your baby’s development. Common problems that can occur as a result of drinking while pregnant include:

  • Stillbirth
  • Early miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Damage to brain development
  • Under-development in the womb
  • Infant illness
  • Foetal alcohol syndrome


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

This syndrome is relevant to babies born to mothers who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol during their pregnancy. Symptoms include growth deformities, heart problems, mental health issues, and development problems.


I’m struggling to quit Alcohol and I’m Breastfeeding

If you are finding it difficult to eliminate alcohol and you have just given birth, you should not feel bad or guilty. Post-natal depression can also play a role in new mothers wanting to drink more alcohol.

e can help at Cassiobury Court if you require support in being tee-total during the early days of motherhood. We have a range of treatments available that can help those with alcohol dependency to get back on track to a life that isn’t dictated by thoughts of alcohol, which is especially important when you have a new baby.

If you are a new mother and are having trouble stopping heavy drinking, you risk doing severe damage to yours and your baby’s health. Physical symptoms that can arise from alcohol abuse including an increased risk of raised blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease.

Heavy drinking can also affect your mental health as you may experience mood swings, aggression, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal feelings if you are becoming highly reliant on alcohol. As a result, relationships with loved ones can suffer, as well as your ability to do your job and carry out simple daily tasks.

These could be signs on an alcohol addiction which need to be met with immediate professional support from a recognised drug and alcohol rehab centre like Cassiobury Court.


Cutting out Drinking and Breastfeeding

A first immediate step is to try and reduce the amount of alcohol you are consuming to just a single unit very rarely, and which is consumed shortly after you have fed your baby to give it enough time to leave your system.

You can do this by taking breaks from drinking, which will lower your risk of dependency and also help prevent health issues with your baby. Other ways you can cut out alcohol include exercising mindfulness, taking up a hobby (such as a gentle yoga class), going for a walk or doing exercise whenever you feel the need to drink, and talking to an organisation that can help put you back in control through speech therapy, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.


How We Can Help

Mother and daughter holding hands

If you think you might need help or rehabilitation for alcohol dependence or addiction, we can help at Cassiobury Court. We want your rehab to be as comfortable and successful as possible.

Our professional team are very experienced in planning detoxes that help and support those that want to emancipate themselves from alcohol problems.

We can give you effective guidance through a bespoke programme that focuses on healing your body, mind and soul with holistic practices that help you to curb your alcohol cravings.

We encourage mindfulness activities such as meditation and counselling to re-adjust your mindset, and help you focus on relaxation and recuperation without distractions.

Anyone from any background can suffer from alcohol problems, but it is especially important to tackle these if you have just given birth and are a new mum.

We can help you live a life free from the oppression of alcohol issues so you can focus on a healthy life with your new baby.

Your stay with us will be about relaxation, calm and comfort, and we offer lots of therapies to help you on your journey towards better management of your drinking habits.

All of our staff members are completely committed in supporting their clients at all times and exercise the utmost discretion and understanding.

Get in touch with us today if you would like help and support with your alcohol intake following a pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. You can call us on 01923 369 161 or text HELP to 83222.

John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 2nd February 2024

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.