Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Gin When Breastfeeding? The science.

Naturally, breastfeeding moms want to do everything possible to protect and nurture their new baby. Any new moms out there will know there is a list of foods and drinks you should avoid whilst pregnant but also whilst breastfeeding. One of these that everyone knows is that you should trying avoid alcohol. However a question i see and hear a lot is… “Can you drink non alcoholic gin when breastfeeding?”

Can you drink non alcoholic gin when breastfeeding?

Yes you can drink non alcoholic gin when breastfeeding. The guidelines state to limit your alcohol intake to 2 standard measures of gin a day which is the equivalent of 160 measures of non alcoholic gin. You are supposed to wait 2 hours post drinking a standard gin before breastfeeding which equals a couple minutes for non alcoholic wine as it has 1/80th of the alcohol. 

Is alcohol detected in breast milk?

Yes, alcohol is detected in breast milk. 

Alcohol levels are usually at their highest 30-60minutes after an alcoholic drink is consumed and can continue to be detected for 2-3hrs. The more the mom drinks, the longer the alcohol is detected.

Number of drinksLength of time detected in breast milk
How long alcoholic is detected in breast milk

Can expressing or pumping breast milk lower the alcohol in the milk?

No, expressing or pumping breast milk and discarding it will not lower the amount of alcohol in the milk or how long it is detected. 

Essentially, the concentration of alcohol in breast milk matches that of the alcohol in the blood. Until the liver metabolises the alcohol from the bloodstream, it will continue to be present and detected in breast milk and pumping or discarding does not affect it.

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. The current advice is no amount of alcohol is safe when pregnant.

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. 

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poorer milk production, shortened breastfeeding duration, poor infant sleep and early development.

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. 

What are the current alcohol in breastfeeding guidelines?

As with any medical issue, it is best to review what the current guidelines are fro your area and around the world. 

The guidelines for alcohol when breastfeeding are not as strict as for alcohol in pregnancy.

Regional advisorSpecific adviceAdditional comments
NHS (UK)No more than 14 UK Units a weekSpread drinks over >3 days. Wait 2 hours after drinking until breastfeeding
Australian Breastfeeding Association Drink less than 2 Standard Drinks per day None in first month then wait 2 hours post drinking
ACOG (USA)Drink less than 2 Standard Drinks per dayWait at least 2 hrs after drinking until breastfeeding
National level advice on breastfeeding and alcohol

The basic advice is to drink only a couple of standard drinks a day and to wait 2 hours after an alcoholic drink until you breastfeed to allow the alcohol concentration in the breastmilk to fall.

How much alcohol is in non alcoholic gin?

Non alcoholic gin is still called gin and it has 0.5% of alcohol by volume on the bottle, so just how much alcohol is in non alcoholic gin.

There are lots of different labelling and names in the non alcoholic gin world. Ive written a full article on what all the names mean and how to navigate your way around it, you can read it here.

A non alcoholic gin has an ABV of 0.5% or less.

An alcohol free gin will have an ABV of less than 0.05%.

To get a clearer idea of just how low 0.5% ABV actually is, you can look at some common foods and drinks that contain similar amounts of alcohol. Fruit juices have more alcohol by volume than non alcoholic gin and even some breads do!

How many measures of non alcoholic gin equals one gin?

The best way to think of this and work it out is to compare the alcohol in a standard gin and that of a non alcoholic gin.

A standard gin has 40% ABV and 1.5fl oz

A non alcoholic gin has 0.5% ABV at a maximum and 1.5fl oz.

Type of ginAlcohol by volume
Alcoholic gin40%
Non alcoholic gin0.5%
ABV in gin

With some simple math calculations (40/0.5), you can see that an alcoholic gin has x80 the alcohol than a non alcoholic gin.

In general, you would have to drink 80 measures of non alcoholic gin to equal one measure of alcoholic gin in terms of alcohol. There is more alcohol in one jigger of alcoholic gin than a whole bottle of non alcoholic gin.

How many measures of non alcoholic gin equals 2 standard gins?

If 80 measures of non alcoholic gin equals 1 standard gin (1.5fl oz and 40% ABV), then 160 measures of non alcoholic gin will equal 2 standard measures of gin. 

160 measures of non alcoholic gin is 10 bottles of non alcoholic gin, which even on a crazy day, no one is going to drink. So you can drink as much non alcoholic gin as you want and be under the 2 standard gins level.

Can you drink non alcoholic gin when breastfeeding?

Yes you can drink non alcoholic gin when breastfeeding. You can drink up to 160 measures of non alcoholic gin a day and still be within the government guidelines of 2 standard gins equivalent.

The amount of time post drinking a measure of non alcoholic gin and breastfeeding hard to say or even if you need to wait at all. After a normal gin with x80 the alcohol of a non alcoholic gin, you should wait 2 hours, which would equate to a matter of minutes for a non alcoholic gin measure.

What drugs can be expressed in breast milk?

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.

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