Understandably, breastfeeding mothers want to do everything possible to protect and nurture their new . There are many food and beverage rule to try and follow. One of these that everyone knows is that you should trying avoid alcohol. Im going to take a look at if alcohol free drinks are safe in breastfeeding and why you should avoid alcohol when breastfeeding.
In general, alcohol free drinks are safe in breastfeeding. They have had their alcohol removed to a level below 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV) meaning it is not physiologically active. If you compare that to a glass of fresh orange juice has an ABV of 0.5%
In this blog i’ll look at why alcohol is bad for your baby when breastfeeding, what the current guidelines are in terms of consuming alcohol and how to read the label and why it’s important in the alcohol free market.
What is expressed in breastmilk? Is alcohol?
A lot of drugs that a mom takes are passed into the breast milk and can be drank by her baby. Most commonly used drugs are safe in this regard. These would include small molecules like alcohol, codeine/painkillers, nicotine and caffeine. Cocaine and recreational drugs are particularly bad and expressed in milk. Big molecules like warfarin and insulin are protein bound and don’t enter the milk. A large FAQ on breastfeeding can be found here from The Breastfeeding Network.
Why is alcohol bad for your baby when breastfeeding
I have previously looked at why alcohol is bad for your baby when in the womb, it has its on specific issues which every pregnant mom should know.
Alcohol can have all the affects on your baby that it has on you if they get it through breastmilk. The affects would be more pronounced due to your babies size and never having encountered alcohol before. The additional worrying feature is an indirect result. There is a large increase in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for babies that co-sleep in the same bed or chair especially with intoxicated adults as they sleep deeper and can crush the baby or even just heat the baby up too much. If you switch to alcohol free drinks would won’t run the risk of accidentally falling asleep with your baby due to being a bit tipsy or drunk.
What are the current guidelines?
|Regional advisor||Specific advice||Additional comments|
|NHS (UK)||No more than 14 UK Units a week||Spread drinks over >3 days. Wait 2 hours after drinking until breastfeeding|
|Australian Breastfeeding Association||Drink less than 2 Standard Drinks per day||Non in first month then wait 2 hours post drinking|
|ACOG (USA)||Drink less than 2 Standard Drinks per day||Wait at least 2 hrs after drinking until breastfeeding|
How much alcohol is there in an alcohol free drink?
|Standard drink limit||Alcohol free beer limit||Alcohol free wine limit||Alcohol free spirit limit|
|Over 21 Driver||4||400||960||3200|
As an illustration of just how alcohol free a <0.05% ABV drink is this is a comparison to a US Standard Drink measure. A Standard Drink corresponds to roughly
- 12 fluid ounces of regular 5% beer
- 8-9 fluid ounces of 7% malt liquor
- 5 fluid ounces of 12% table wine
- 1.5 fluid ounces of 40% distilled spirits
An abstaining breastfeeding mom who is wanting to try and avoid alcohol as much as possible and worried about an alcohol free drink can look at the middle line. 0.01 = 1% so 1% of a can of beer is a teaspoon, 15 of a glass of wine is 1/3 of a tea spoon and 1% of a measure of spirit is basically a drop.
You may say that a teaspoon of beer is still alcohol but having spoken to many medical professionals, this amount will not affect any body function. Indeed we consume much much more than this in various other drinks and food stuffs without realising it or thinking of their alcoholic content. The amount of alcohol that would make it into breastmilk from a teaspoon of beer is practically zero. Certainly so low that it should not be thought of at all.
I have done a full analysis of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks in terms of what you can drink and drive on. If you click here you will see a lot more calculations which are astounding.
Alcohol by volume in food vs alcohol free
Its good to consider other food and beverages that contain tiny amount of alcohol just to understand how free alcohol free really is. There are trace amounts in many of our common foods and these are multiples higher than what is in alcohol free drinks.
|Food or Drink||Alcohol by volume content %|
|Alcohol free drink||<0.05%|
As you can see from the table above, alcohol free drinks have as much alcohol as a pear and 10% the alcohol of orange juice. They even have around 25% the alcohol of rye bread! A breastfeeding mom would likely not care or consider the alcohol in any of these, nor should they. They are all degrees of trivial.
Ive continually and on purpose posted “alcohol free” in this blog. However there are other terms out there which its important to know the difference on as they can containe x10 or x24 the alcohol content and still sound like they are alcohol free! My full blogs on wines, beers and spirits can be found on the links.
In basic terms there are 3/4 descriptors for low or no alcohol products
|Jurisdiction||What the maximum ABV % can be for “alcohol free”|
|Description on label||Maximum ABV content|
If you are breastfeeding, i would definitely stick to the “alcohol free” drinks. If you slip into the dealcoholised or non alcoholic drinks then you are drinking x10 the alcohol. I still think this isn’t a significant amount but if you are following all the national guidelines then as close to absolute zero the better. As we looked at above, absolute zero can not happen as many foodstuffs contain trace amounts of alcohol. Most research suggests low alcohol consumption is not harmful
For a full article of 12 non alcoholic beer benefits then click here to read
For a full 11 reasons to try non alcoholic gin, follow this link to my article.
For 13 reasons why you should try non alcoholic wine then follow this link to my article