Can I drink alcohol if I am pregnant or breastfeeding

March 13, 2014

 

This will be my second time around being pregnant at Christmas and New Year’s, and for me that is something to really celebrate. I will be heading south for a big family reunion this time, and as it ‘tis the season to be jolly’, there will definitely be many times where alcoholic drinks are offered. I needed a bit of a refresher on what is considered safe or not during the pregnancy and breastfeeding stage, so I hopped online to see what I could find out…

 

Alcohol is one of those things that can come up a lot in your social life. I remember, for instance, that when I was 9 weeks pregnant with Dear Daughter (DD), my doctor encouraged me to have a glass of wine to celebrate. In the weeks before I knew I was expecting, I was on the Greek Islands keeping cool in the balmy weather with many beer shandies! Luckily neither seems to have had a negative affect on DD.

 

So what did I manage to find out? Research projects concerning drugs, alcohol and other substances and their possible effects on pregnancy are pretty limited it seems. It is known that drinking substantially and for extended periods during your pregnancy may cause a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome. However, most doctors (like my GP) would probably say that the occasional drink is fine during pregnancy, though it is not known for certain what this small amount may do. If you trust your GP, maybe you could ask them what their opinion is. I guess it is up to the individual, as some mums-to-be may think more along the lines of ‘you can never be too careful’. For more information, see Drinkwise, published by the Victorian Government.

 

As for breastfeeding mums, the general opinion seems to be you can absolutely have a few drinks on a special occasion, as long as you follow the safety guidelines. It will take a little advance planning on your part. This is because once alcohol is consumed, it will take time to leave your breast milk, just as it takes time for it to leave your bloodstream. You will need to make alternative arrangements for your baby’s feeds, such as expressing some feeds over a few days in advance. It’s recommended not to breastfeed again until all the alcohol is likely to be gone from your system. See the Australian Breastfeeding Association for further information, http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/safe-when-breastfeeding/alcohol-and-breastfeeding.

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