Pregnant mothers should not drink alcohol. This is because alcohol especially in the first trimester may interfere with the fetal development and causes abnormalities. Fetal Alcohol syndrome is a known condition in newborn that is associated with excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy. What about mothers who are breast feeding? Can they enjoy a glass or two of beef or wine?
A website popular with breast feeding mothers have this to say
The concentration of alcohol in your blood is the concentration of alcohol in your milk. Alcohol gets into your breastmilk from your blood, moving freely from the blood to the breastmilk (and back out again). Alcohol will be in your breastmilk 30–60 minutes after you start drinking.
When alcohol is ingested and absorbed in your gut. It is then detoxed by your liver, broken down into acetaldehyde which are then excreted. This takes time. In the meantime, some of the alcohol is being excreted into the breast milk. Depending on how young your baby is, he or she may not have the enzymes to detox the alcohol. This is what happens when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy. The alcohol in the mother’s blood cross the placenta and affect the fetus because the fetal liver do not have the enzymes to detoxify the ethanol. Hence the fetal abnormalities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy on Breastfeeding and Use of Human Milk considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding but recommends
[Thus], ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake but no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kg body weight, which for a 60 kg mother is approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers. Nursing should take place 2 hours or longer after the alcohol intake to minimize its concentration in the ingested milk
Mothers who are breastfeeding can safely consume moderate amount of alcohol. They do not have to throw away their expressed breast milk because breast milk do not contain alcohol unless it was expressed within 2 hours of alcohol consumption. Mothers who consumes large amount of alcohol affects their baby not by their breast milk but in their ability to take good care of their newborn.
It is a myth that breast feeding mothers cannot drink alcohol. However it is prudent to consume it in moderation.