Cheers to Moderation: Wine and Breastfeeding Explained 


The journey of breastfeeding comes with various challenges and questions, and one that often arises is whether it’s safe to enjoy a glass of wine or consume alcohol while breastfeeding. The concept of “pumping and dumping” has gained attention as a potential solution to enjoy a drink without compromising the well-being of your nursing baby. Let’s explore some guidelines for having a drink while breastfeeding, providing clarity for breastfeeding mothers wondering how to navigate this delicate balance. 

Understanding Pumping and Dumping

Pumping and dumping is the process of expressing breast milk after consuming alcohol with the intention of discarding that milk, ensuring that the baby does not ingest any alcohol through breastfeeding. While this may seem like a straightforward solution, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of this method can vary based on factors such as alcohol metabolism rates and individual differences. 

Understanding Alcohol Metabolism

Alcohol enters breast milk at concentrations similar to those found in the mother’s blood. The metabolism of alcohol in the body is generally well-understood, but it is crucial to recognize that alcohol elimination is a gradual process. The rate of alcohol metabolism can vary from person to person, influenced by factors such as body weight, liver function, and individual tolerance. 

Timing and Moderation is Everything

The key to successfully incorporating a glass of wine or alcoholic beverage into your breastfeeding routine lies in understanding the relationship between alcohol consumption and breast milk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics1, waiting at least 2 hours after a single serving of alcohol before breastfeeding is crucial. This allows time for the body to metabolize the alcohol, reducing the likelihood of its presence in breast milk. 

While occasional indulgence in a glass of wine is generally considered acceptable for breastfeeding mothers, moderation is key. Excessive or frequent alcohol consumption can affect both the mother’s health and the quality of breast milk. It’s crucial to strike a balance that aligns with individual tolerance levels and health considerations. 

Consulting Healthcare Professionals

When in doubt, seeking advice from healthcare professionals is paramount. Lactation consultants and healthcare providers can offer personalized guidance based on individual circumstances, ensuring that mothers make informed decisions that prioritize both their health and the well-being of their breastfeeding infants. 

Pumping Strategies

For mothers wanting to enjoy a drink without compromising the safety of their baby, strategic pumping can be a helpful tool. Expressing breast milk before consuming alcohol provides a reserve of clean milk for the baby while allowing time for the alcohol to clear from the mother’s system. 


Balancing the desire to enjoy a glass of wine with the commitment to breastfeeding requires thoughtful consideration. Understanding the rules for pumping and dumping, waiting an appropriate amount of time, and prioritizing moderation are key components of this delicate balance. As always, consulting with healthcare professionals ensures that mothers receive personalized advice and can make informed decisions that prioritize the health and well-being of both themselves and their babies. 


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022). Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Reva Hawkins