Pump and Dump: Why It's Not Necessary When Breastfeeding

Time Is All You Need to Naturally Rid Alcohol from Your Breastmilk

Breast pump next to baby.
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The question of whether to "pump and dump," or pump and throw out your breastmilk after drinking alcohol, is common among breastfeeding moms.

The good news: You should be able to enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage from time to time without fear of harming your baby. That is provided you drink responsibly and allow your body time to rid your breastmilk of alcohol.

The One Reason to Pump and Dump

While you might think that you must "pump and dump" your breastmilk after you have finished drinking alcohol, it is completely not necessary to do for your baby's sake.

In fact, the only reason you would need to pump your milk would be to relieve any discomfort you are experiencing from engorgement. If you need to express milk to relieve pain, the breastmilk pumped during this time should be thrown out, however.

If you aren't bothered by the lapse of feedings, then the simplest thing to do is give yourself time and allow your blood-alcohol levels to return to normal. It's worth noting, however, that pumping and dumping will not speed up how your body processes alcohol out of the system. 

Breastfeeding After Drinking Alcohol

The most important thing to keep in mind if you decide to drink is that it takes time for alcohol to leave your system. And this varies depending upon the following factors:

  • Your body weight
  • How much alcohol you drank over a period of time
  • The amount of alcohol in your beverage of choice

According to the La Leche League, it takes a 120-pound woman about two to three hours to eliminate one serving of beer (12 ounces) or one serving of wine (5 ounces) from her body.

For one high-alcohol drink (vodka, for instance) it can take up to 13 hours for a 120-pound woman to eliminate the alcohol.

Does Alcohol Build Milk Supply?

The myth that alcohol builds milk supply is a pretty old one, based largely on opinion instead of valid research. In fact, some studies show that the exact opposite is true: Downing that bottle of beer or glass of wine can decrease your breastmilk supply and inhibit milk letdown.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Now that you know a little more about breastfeeding and how what you consume affects your baby, it's time to expand your knowledge of the subject a bit more. Here are four more articles that tackle commonly asked questions from nursing moms just like you. 

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