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

Listen up if you’re a breastfeeding mama!

In this intoxicating read, find out what the facts are on breastfeeding and alcohol and what are the actual pumping and dumping rules.

Let’s look at whether the research shows if it’s safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, how much is too much and how to test your breast milk.

Plus much more!pumping and dumping image alcohol and breastfeeding pin

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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.

Sometimes 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 frantically googling afterward.

Don’t panic just yet mama, because according to thebump.com pumping and dumping may be a perpetuated myth.

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!

Alcohol while Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know!

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.

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 Guidelines 

  • Research shows that occasional alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the baby.
  • Mothers 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.

After reading through those alcohol and breastfeeding guidelines via Kellymom.com, it appears that the general consensus is that occasional and moderate alcoholic consumption while breastfeeding is mostly considered benign.

However, 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.

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

How Alcohol in Breastmilk can Affect Nursing Infants

Babies are a fraction of the size we are. So of course, even tiny amounts of alcohol in your breast milk can have an adverse effect on your baby. 

Here are some concerning adverse reactions a baby exposed to an excessive amount of alcohol in breast milk could experience.

  • Impaired motor development. 
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Decrease in appetite. 
  • Risk of hypoglycemia.

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 chartHere is 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. 

When to Pump and Dump

Now that you have all of that information on breastfeeding and alcohol, are there any other reasons you would need to pump and dump? 

The answer is yes, sometimes…

When You Are Away from Baby

If you are going to be away from your baby throughout multiple feedings and you have nowhere to store your breast milk, you might need to pump and dump to avoid painful engorgement that could lead to dangerous clogs.

But don’t dump just yet!

Breast milk can usually be kept safely at room temperature for up to eight hours!

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.

You may also be able to avoid this pumping and dumping scenario by making pumping on the go as effortless as possible, and you can do that with a wearable electric breast pump like the Willow.

Or, opt for a more economical version with this wearable pump for a fraction of the price!

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

When Taking Certain Medications While Breastfeeding 

I’m sure you’re also curious about 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.

Next, you’ll get some ideas for alternative breast milk uses instead of just washing it down the drain! 

An infographic for pumping and dumping rules

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

Instead of dumping your precious white liquid gold 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, just take a look!

  • Turn breast milk in to 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.

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.

Download Now!

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 claims the 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.

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!

Before you go, check out why breast milk can be different colors.

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.

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  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