So you were good for 9 months of pregnancy and avoided alcohol. Congratulations! But now you’ve been breastfeeding for months, and the holiday party invitations are rolling in. Do you drink alcohol? Abstain? While abstinence is always a good choice, if you decide to indulge in a little holiday cheer, it’s best to do so with an abundance of caution and a clear understanding of how long it takes for alcohol to be completely eliminated from breastmilk. 

If a breastfeeding mother chooses to consume alcohol, she should plan ahead, and wait until the alcohol has completed been eliminated, as there is no safe amount of alcohol for a baby. If your baby will need nourishment before the safe period, then consider pumping before drinking, and using the pumped milk until your body had had time to clear all alcohol.  No amount of pumping, drinking water, or resting will speed the elimination of alcohol.

If your weight is:                              Time to Eliminate One Drink*                      Time to Eliminate Two Drinks

120 lb.                                                2 1/2 hours                                                      5 hours

180 lb.                                                2 hours                                                              4 hours

*One drink is defined as 12 oz of 5% beer, or 5 oz of 11% wine, or 1.5 oz of 40% liquor.  

The complete chart can be found at These numbers are estimates, based on science, and should be used as a guideline.

Alcohol is a depressant, and the holidays can be difficult for some. If you’re a nursing mom or prone to depression, try a virgin cocktail. Great options include: soda water with a twist of lime, plain cranberry juice, or eggnog. There are a variety of festive new fruit-juice-based sparkling waters. If you are hosting a holiday party, and know that breastfeeding moms might attend, be a conscientious, and ensure that non-alcoholic options are available.  

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