Alcohol and Milk Supply

How Does Alcohol Enter The Milk?

Each breast contains approximately 15-20 lobules, clusters of alveoli responsible for producing milk. These alveoli absorb proteins, sugars, fats, white blood cells, enzymes, and other essential nutrients from the bloodstream to create milk that caters to your baby’s developmental needs. When your baby latches on to nurse, the muscles surrounding the alveoli contract, and milk is expressed.

Because breast milk is produced from blood, any alcohol consumed can enter the milk through the bloodstream. The amount of alcohol that can be detected in the milk depends on the quantity of alcohol consumed. As a general guideline, each drink can be detected in the breast milk for about 2-3 hours after consumption. Therefore, if you have had three drinks, it can be detected in your breast milk for about 6-8 hours after consumption.

A Few Things To Remember: 

  1. Eating food will slow the absorption of alcohol and can delay the peak slightly

  2. Your weight can impact the length of time alcohol is in the bloodstream

  3. Alcohol impedes the release of oxytocin and decreases prolactin levels

Basic Guidelines: 

  1. If you’re unsure, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol or stick to one drink a day, which is considered safe while breastfeeding.

  2. Wait at least two hours after drinking alcohol before nursing or pumping. Alcohol reaches its peak 30 minutes to an hour after consumption, so you might find it helpful to nurse your baby before having a drink or even nurse and pump while having your first drink.

What Is “One Drink?” 

– 12 ounces of 5% beer

– 8 ounces of 7% malt liquor

– 5 ounces of 12% wine

– 1 ½ of 40% or 80 proof liquor

Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can have adverse effects on the baby’s health. Some of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption by breastfeeding mothers can be increased fussiness and alertness, delayed weight gain, disrupted sleep patterns, and decreased milk intake for up to 3 to 4 hours after the mother drinks alcohol. Additionally, there is a possibility of interference with long-term motor development and reasoning skills in the baby.

Does Beer Increase My Milk Supply? 

In the past, lactating mothers and wet nurses used to drink home-brewed beers infused with beneficial herbs and galactagogues to increase their milk production. However, the alcohol content in these beers was almost non-existent, and it was believed that the ingredients in the beer helped enhance milk production. This gave rise to the myth that beer helps stimulate milk production, but in reality, alcohol itself can decrease milk supply.


As a breastfeeding mother, know that you can still enjoy a drink without having to sacrifice your milk supply. However, it is necessary to comprehend the process of milk production and the impact of alcohol on your baby. Doing so lets you make informed decisions about having a drink, whether with your dinner or out during a girl’s night! It is important to keep in mind that the effects of alcohol on milk supply may differ from person to person, so it is advisable to follow these guidelines while also paying attention to your own body’s response.