Health Library
Alcohol & Breast Milk

How Does Alcohol Affect Breast Milk?

Alcohol passes easily into breast milk and there is no known “safe” amount. It’s best to avoid use while breastfeeding.

What You Should Know:

  • Drinking beer does not increase milk supply, as was previously thought.
  • Drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the amount of milk your baby drinks. Alcohol can change the taste of breast milk, and some babies will not want to drink it.
  • Milk letdown may be slowed until the level of alcohol in the blood decreases.
  • Moderate, heavy, or regular use of alcohol may also reduce milk production.
  • Preterm or medically complex babies may be affected more by alcohol. Talk with your baby’s doctor.

If You Choose to Have an Alcoholic Drink:

  • It is best to do so right after you nurse or pump milk rather than before.
  • Alcohol level in milk is highest between 30 minutes and one and a half hours after having a drink, then falls.
  • Wait at least two hours per drink* before your next breastfeeding or pumping session so less alcohol will reach your baby. This will decrease the amount of alcohol in your breast milk.
    • For example: If you have two drinks between 7-8pm, pump and discard your milk until midnight.
  • The level of alcohol in breast milk mirrors the alcohol level in the blood. If at any time you can feel the effects of alcohol, it is not safe to feed that milk. If your baby is ready to feed or you are due to pump, it is safest to pump and discard your milk.

* One alcoholic drink is the equal to 12-ounces of 5% ABV beer, 5-ounces of 12% ABV wine, or 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV liquor. (Percents are averages. ABV = alcohol by volume)

Repeated Exposure of Infants to Alcohol:

There are concerns about long-term, repeated exposures of infants to alcohol in mother’s milk.

Last Updated 07/2021

Reviewed By Robin Steffen, Lactation Consultant