Pumping and Dumping Rules While Breastfeeding: What Are the Facts?

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Listen up if you’re a breastfeeding mama!

In this intoxicating read, find out what the facts are when it comes to pumping and dumping and whether or not you can indulge yourself with a much needed adult beverage while breastfeeding.

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Should You Pump and Dump?

Let’s dive right into the facts about this pumping and dumping debate.

I’m no doctor, so I’ll be citing help on this topic to ensure I’m giving you the best and most up to date information about this question.

When a glass of wine is just too tempting to ignore and you have some while breastfeeding, “do I have to pump and dump?” may be the first thing you begin googling afterward.

However, according to thebump.com, this may be a perpetuated myth.

Pumping and dumping your breast milk after a drink actually doesn’t remove the alcohol from your breast milk, but instead time does. 

Alcohol leaves your breast milk just as it does your bloodstream, but that’s not all you need to know!

Drinking Alcohol while Breastfeeding 

Time to break down exactly what is considered too much alcohol consumption for a breastfeeding mom to partake in.

In other words, what is a reasonable amount of alcohol for a breastfeeding mom to ingest without needing to pump it and dump it?

Moderate alcohol consumption while breastfeeding is generally considered safe for your breast milk. (source located at bottom of page)

The CDC has determined that one alcoholic drink per day is considered a moderate amount of use.

 A “drink” is defined with the guidelines listed below: 

  • 12 oz of 5% abv Beer
  • 8 oz of 7% abv Malt Liquor 
  • 5 oz of 12% abv Wine
  • 1.5 oz of 40% abv (40 proof) Distilled Liquor 

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Chart

Using the CDC’s “drink” guidelines, I replicated their alcohol and breastfeeding chart to help you visualize about how long to wait to breastfeed after having alcohol. 

Alcohol and Breastfeeding chart

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Guidelines 

Let’s not pretend like we now believe it’s ok to get hammered while breastfeeding.

Common sense would say, it’s probably not a good idea for your health and your ability to take care of yourself and your baby with a massive hangover.

We also know that dehydration can be a significant cause of low milk supply.

ReadBreastfeeding and Pumping Schedules for Beginners

Breast milk and alcohol guidelines according to kelllymom.com

  • Research shows that occasional alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the baby.
  • Mother’s who consume alcohol in moderate amounts can return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel back to normal.
  • Nursing should take place 2 hours or longer after alcohol ingestion as a precaution.
  • Experts assert a nursing mother should have no more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per week.
  • Alcohol does not increase milk supply, and has even been observed that it inhibits letdown and can decrease milk production.

An infographic for pumping and dumping rules

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How to Test Alcohol in Breastmilk

Would’t it be nice to know exactly how much alcohol got into your breast milk before you dumped it or reluctantly fed it to your little one? 

Thankfully, you can know!

With a quick click over to Amazon you’ll find these alcohol testing breast milk strips. They promise to detect alcohol in your breast milk within two minutes.

The peace of mind these would bring you make them worth having for those just incase scenarios we all encounter as new mamas!

Read: 12 Common Pumping Mistakes that can be Easily Avoided

Effects on Nursing Infants When too Much Alcohol is Present in Breast Milk

Baby’s are a fraction of the size we are, so of course, even tiny amounts of alcohol in your breast milk can have an adverse affect on your baby. 

Here are some concerning adverse reactions a baby exposed to an excessive amount of alcohol in breast milk could experience. (source located at bottom of page)

  • Impaired Motor Development 
  • Changes is Sleep Patterns
  • Decrease in Appetite 
  • Risk of Hypoglycemia

Click this link to see a detailed graph of how long it takes for alcohol to metabolize out of a mother’s blood stream depending on her weight and amount of alcohol consumed. 

Read: How to Pump More Milk and Maximize Your Pumping Efforts!

When to Pump and Dump

Is there a good time to pump and dump?

 The answer is yes, sometimes.

Especially, if you are going to be away from your baby throughout multiple feedings and you have nowhere to store your breast milk.

Of course, breast milk can usually be kept safely at room temperature for up to eight hours. (source located at bottom of page)

However, in order to maintain your supply and avoid painful engorgement, you may need to bite the bullet and dump it.

Also, plan on pumping as often as you would be nursing your baby while your are away to maintain your milk supply you worked so hard to establish.

Further down, I’ll introduce you to some awesome concealable and hands-free pumping kit options that are perfect for pumping on the go and even in public!

Medications and Breastfeeding 

Now, I’m sure you’re also curious about certain medications and which are safe to take while breastfeeding and which are not.

Sometimes, it’s unavoidable that you may need to take a drug that is deemed NOT SAFE to have in your blood stream while breastfeeding.

Of course, your healthcare provider will discuss this scenario with you (hopefully) before you are prescribed anything.

However, if you’d like to see an extensive list of medications safe and not safe for breastfeeding, this article from drugs.com has you covered.

Read a little farther down to see some alternative breast milk uses instead of just washing it down the drain! 

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Instantly download 3 must-have pumping schedules and a daily-use pump log to help you stay on track!

A mock up of pumping schedules on an iPhone and a printed stack of pump logs.Or, sign up for The Crib, where you can get access to ALL the FREEBIES just for moms with littles! 

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Breast Milk Storage Ideas While You’re Away from your Baby

Quickly, here are some breast milk storage ideas for when you decide to give yourself a much-needed mommy vacay/weekend away.

Hassle-free pumping during your play time

I might as well also give you an idea or two on how to make pumping on the go and in public a little more discreet and hassle-free so it doesn’t interrupt your time away!

Ideas for Alternative Breast Milk Use You Can’t Feed Baby

Instead of dumping your precious white liquid love all down the sink, try an alternative (non-feeding) use for the breast milk.

There are quite a few other cool ways breast milk can be used for the benefit of your baby.

Take a look at these other options for breast milk use.

  • Turn breast milk into lotion.
  • Use the breast milk for a milk bath.
  • Apply to minor cuts or cracked nipples.
  • Breast milk can be applied like a moisturizer to dry skin or eczema.

Do note that alcohol in breast milk can penetrate the skin, so do your homework and always lean on the side of caution – especially when medications or drugs were involved.

Pumping and Dumping is A Rhyme, not A Rule!

I have sifted through article after article and I have yet to find one reliable source that says best breastfeeding practice is to pump and dump after an alcoholic beverage.

The only reason this breastfeeding myth has survived is because it sounds catchy and is easy to remember.

Read: How to Fully Empty Breast while Pumping 

Pump and Dump is a catchy rhyme and not a hard and fast rule!

I bet you are now running to the wine rack for your first glass since before you found out you were pregnant.

You totally should!

I waited until I was 6 months postpartum before I allowed myself a drink. I was also still exclusively pumping and it absolutely did cross my mind whether or not to dump the “tainted” milk.

However, I was a “just enough-er” and you would have had to tell me a stranger dropped something into my breast milk before I’d be willing to waste it!

 Last Drop

In essence, the term “pump and dump” only truly persists because it rhymes and is super easy to remember.

The data pretty clearly shows that there is no real threat to your baby if you have a drink or two and wait at least a couple hours before giving that breast milk to your baby.

Furthermore, pumping out the “drunken” breast milk DOES NOT remove the small amount of alcohol that may have entered it. 

Alcohol leaves your breast milk just like your blood. Meaning, it takes time for the alcohol to be completely removed from your system.

Thanks for reading, subscribe if you’re feeling the love and follow my social media accounts (found below) to stay in touch!

Read Next: Pumping at Work Tips for a Successful Breastfeeding Transition

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/vaccinations-medications-drugs/alcohol.html
  2. https://www.beststart.org/resources/alc_reduction/pdf/brstfd_alc_deskref_eng.pdf
  3. https://www.drugs.com/drug-safety-breastfeeding.html

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