Updated at: 08-06-2023 - By: John Lau

Navigating the world of breastfeeding can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding how alcohol consumption may affect your baby. If you’re wondering “How Long To Wait To Breastfeed After Drinking Chart,” this comprehensive blog post is here to guide you on safe practices and provide clarity on the relationship between alcohol and breastfeeding.

We’ll explore the science behind alcohol’s presence in breast milk, recommended waiting times after drinkingtips for safely enjoying a drink while nursing, and debunking common myths about alcohol and lactation.

With this knowledge in hand, you can make informed decisions that prioritize both your enjoyment and your baby’s well-being.

Understanding Alcohol And Breastfeeding

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Alcohol can easily pass into breast milk, so it is important for nursing mothers to have a clear understanding of how alcohol affects breast milk production and the potential risks of passing alcohol to their baby.

How Alcohol Passes Into Breast Milk

Alcohol consumption by a nursing mother can lead to the substance passing into her breast milk, creating potential risks for the infant. This transfer occurs because alcohol molecules are small and easily move from the bloodstream into mammary glands, where they mix with milk produced for breastfeeding.

For example, if a breastfeeding mom consumes one glass of wine, it takes about 30 to 60 minutes for the alcohol to reach its peak levels in her breast milk and up to 60 to 90 minutes when consumed with food.

Nurses should be aware of this process and understand how crucial it is to delay breastfeeding until their system has had time to metabolize the consumed alcohol completely.

How Long Alcohol Stays In Breast Milk

Alcohol consumption during breastfeeding can lead to concerns for many new mothers, especially when it comes to understanding how long alcohol stays in breast milk.

The presence of alcohol in breast milk largely depends on factors such as maternal weight, metabolism rates, and the amount consumed. Generally, alcohol from one standard drink is detectable in breast milk for approximately 2 to 3 hours.

However, this time period may extend up to 4 or even 5 hours for some mothers depending on individual metabolic variations. For example, a mother who weighs more may metabolize alcohol at a slower rate than a lighter woman.

Additionally, blood alcohol content typically decreases by .015 per hour after reaching peak levels; therefore if an individual has a BAC of .08 (legal driving limit), it would take around five hours until they are sober again.

The Impact Of Alcohol On Breast Milk Production

The impact of alcohol on breast milk production is an essential factor for breastfeeding mothers to consider when deciding whether or not to consume alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can interfere with the hormonal process responsible for lactation, resulting in decreased milk supply and altered composition of vital nutrients in breast milk.

Moreover, infants exposed to alcohol through breast milk tend to nurse more frequently but consume less volume overall during this period, leading them to be fussy and agitated due to inadequate intake.

Babies also may experience disrupted sleep patterns as alcohol affects their central nervous system maturation process.

The Possible Risks Of Passing Alcohol To Your Baby

Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can be concerning for mothers because it can pass through breast milk to the baby. This may affect infant development by causing changes in sleep, motor skills and behavior.

Excessive drinking may also impact maternal health and lactation negatively, leading to a reduction in milk production.

Ingesting large amounts of alcohol at once or binge-drinking may lead to even higher levels of alcohol in breast milk which may cause severe impairment in the baby’s coordination, growth, and development.

While occasional moderate drinking (less than one drink per day) before breastfeeding is not known to harm babies; the safest way to avoid such risks would be waiting two hours after consuming a drink before nursing your child again or using pumped breastmilk until the amount of alcohol has decreased from your bloodstream.

The Recommended Waiting Period After Drinking

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To ensure the safety of your baby, it is crucial to understand the recommended waiting times after drinking alcohol, which can vary depending on factors such as the amount and type of alcohol consumed.

Waiting Times Based On The Amount Of Alcohol Consumed

When determining the appropriate waiting time to breastfeed after consuming alcohol, the quantity of alcohol consumed plays a significant role. The following table provides a helpful guide for waiting times based on the amount of alcohol consumed, assuming a standard drink size and normal metabolism.


Number of Standard Drinks Type of Drink Recommended Waiting Time
1 Beer (12 oz.), Wine (5 oz.), or Spirits (1.5 oz.) 2 hours
2 Beer (24 oz.), Wine (10 oz.), or Spirits (3 oz.) 4 hours
3 Beer (36 oz.), Wine (15 oz.), or Spirits (4.5 oz.) 6 hours
4 Beer (48 oz.), Wine (20 oz.), or Spirits (6 oz.) 8 hours
5+ Beer, Wine, or Spirits (multiple servings) 10+ hours

Keep in mind that these waiting times are estimates and individual factors, such as your weight, body fat percentage, and metabolism, can affect how quickly your body processes alcohol. It is always better to err on the side of caution and wait longer before breastfeeding if you’re unsure about the alcohol content in your breast milk.

Waiting Times For Different Types Of Drinks

It is important for breastfeeding mothers to understand the waiting times for different types of alcoholic drinks before breastfeeding their babies. The table below provides a general guideline for waiting times based on the type of drink and the mother’s weight:


Type of Drink Alcohol Content Approximate Waiting Time (130 lbs Mother) Approximate Waiting Time (175 lbs Mother)
12 oz. Beer (5% ABV) 0.54 oz 2 hours 1.5 hours
5 oz. Wine (12% ABV) 0.6 oz 2.5 hours 2 hours
1.5 oz. 80-proof Liquor (40% ABV) 0.6 oz 2.5 hours 2 hours
8 oz. Malt Beverage (7% ABV) 0.56 oz 2 hours 1.5 hours
1 oz. 100-proof Liquor (50% ABV) 0.5 oz 2 hours 1.5 hours

Please note that these waiting times are approximate and can vary based on factors such as individual metabolism, how much food has been consumed, and how quickly the alcohol was consumed. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on alcohol consumption and breastfeeding.

Factors That Can Affect Alcohol Metabolism In Breastfeeding Mothers

A mother’s metabolism, weight, and overall health can affect the rate at which alcohol is processed in her body. Other factors such as food intake, medication use, and hormonal fluctuations can also impact how quickly or slowly alcohol is metabolized.

This means that each mother may have a different waiting period before breastfeeding after consuming alcohol.

It’s important for mothers to remember that even if they feel fine after having a drink, their milk may still contain high levels of alcohol that can harm their baby.

Tips For Safe Drinking And Breastfeeding

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To ensure the safety of both mother and baby, there are several tips to follow when drinking while breastfeeding such as avoiding binge drinking, planning ahead by pumping breast milk beforehand, and waiting for at least two hours after consuming one drink before breastfeeding.

Alternatives To Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding mothers who want to avoid alcohol can try the following alternatives:

  • Having a non-alcoholic beer, wine or cocktail: There are many alcohol-free alternatives that taste just like the real thing. They are readily available in stores and restaurants.
  • Drinking a flavored water or juice: Flavored water or juice is refreshing and satisfying. It is also full of nutrients that will benefit both mother and child.
  • Enjoying a cup of tea: Tea has been known for centuries to have calming effects on the body. A cup of chamomile, lavender, or peppermint tea can help breastfeeding mothers relax after a long day.
  • Eating healthy snacks: Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can provide energy and nutrition while breastfeeding. Plus, they are healthier than alcohol.
  • Engaging in relaxing activities: Coloring books, meditation apps, yoga classes or other relaxing activities can be an excellent alternative to drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.

Remember that it’s essential for breastfeeding mothers to stay hydrated and well-nourished while nursing. Avoiding alcohol altogether is always the safest option for both mother and baby.

Pumping And Storing Breast Milk Safely

Breastfeeding mothers who choose to drink alcohol can still ensure the safety and quality of their breast milk for their babies by following these safe pumping and storage practices:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling breast pump parts or milk storage containers.
  • Use a clean and sterilized breast pump for each use.
  • Store breast milk in BPA – free containers or bags that are specifically designed for storing human milk.
  • Label the containers with the date and time of expression to ensure freshness.
  • Refrigerate or freeze the breast milk as soon as possible after pumping.
  • Breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, while frozen milk can last up to 6 months in a standard freezer.
  • Avoid adding fresh breast milk to already frozen milk unless it is chilled first.
  • When transporting breastmilk, use insulated cooler bags with ice packs to keep it at the proper temperature.

Following these procedures will help nursing moms safely enjoy an occasional drink without harming their babies’ health.

Planning Ahead And Timing Drinks Accordingly

For breastfeeding mothers who choose to consume alcohol, it is crucial to plan ahead and time drinks accordingly. This means drinking in moderation and waiting at least 2 hours after consuming one alcoholic beverage before breastfeeding.

It may also involve pumping breast milk prior to drinking if a mother anticipates needing to nurse soon after consumption. Additionally, considering the type of drink being consumed can impact how long it takes for alcohol levels to decrease in breast milk.

It’s worth noting that expressing breast milk during the waiting period can help relieve any discomfort or fullness until it is safe to feed again.

Common Myths About Alcohol And Breastfeeding

There are many myths about alcohol and breastfeeding, such as “pumping and dumping” eliminating alcohol from breast milk or drinking beer increasing milk supply.

“Pumping And Dumping” Eliminates Alcohol From Breast Milk

There’s a common myth that simply pumping and dumping breast milk after drinking alcohol will eliminate the alcohol from it. However, this is not true. Alcohol in breast milk doesn’t “stay” in the milk.

It actually returns to the bloodstream, which means pumping and dumping won’t get rid of it either. Drinking water or resting won’t accelerate the elimination process either, so timing drinks properly is crucial for breastfeeding mothers who want to have a drink without passing on any alcohol to their baby.

Drinking Beer Increases Milk Supply

One common myth about alcohol and breastfeeding is that drinking beer can increase milk supply. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, studies have shown that alcohol consumption can actually decrease the production of breast milk by disrupting the hormones responsible for lactation.

It’s important for breastfeeding mothers to understand that any amount of alcohol consumed during this time can pass into their breast milk and potentially harm their baby.

Health Canada recommends waiting at least 2 hours per alcoholic drink before breastfeeding to minimize these risks.

Alcohol Improves Let-down Reflex

Contrary to popular belief, there is evidence indicating that alcohol can improve the let-down reflex associated with breastfeeding. This reflex involves the release of milk from the breasts and can sometimes be inhibited by stress or anxiety.

While excessive drinking may have adverse effects on lactation, moderate consumption has been shown to increase oxytocin levels in nursing mothers, which in turn enhances milk ejection.

However, it is crucial to note that consuming alcohol during breastfeeding still poses risks to both mother and baby and should always be done within recommended limits.


Now that you understand the impact of alcohol on breast milk and your baby, it’s important to follow recommended waiting periods before breastfeeding after drinking.

Waiting at least 2 hours per drink consumed is a good rule of thumb, but factors such as body weight and type of drink can affect alcohol metabolism. It’s crucial to make informed choices about safe levels of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding, especially for those struggling with alcoholism.