Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Wine When Breastfeeding? Mythbusting

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 wine when breastfeeding?”

Can you drink non alcoholic wine when breastfeeding?

Yes you can drink non alcoholic wine when breastfeeding. The guidelines state to limit your alcohol intake to 2 standard glasses of wine a day which is the equivalent of 48 glasses of non alcoholic wine. You are supposed to wait 2hours post drinking a standard wine before breastfeeding which equals 5 minutes for non alcoholic wine as it has 1/24th 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

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 wine?

Non alcoholic wine looks like and is labelled wine and it has 0.5% of alcohol by volume on the bottle, so just how much alcohol is really in non alcoholic wine.

There are lots of different labels and names in the non alcoholic wine 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 wine has an ABV of 0.5% or less.

An alcohol free wine 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 wine and even some breads do!

How many glasses of non alcoholic wine equals one wine?

The USDA say that white, red and sparkling wines have different average alcohol contents so to see how many glasses of non alcoholic wine equals those you can read my article on it here.

Their “standard wine” is different from their average red etc, so i will be working from their standard wine numbers.

A glass of non alcoholic wine has 0.5% alcohol by volume and a standard alcoholic wine (according to the USDA) has 12% alcohol by volume. Therefore, you would need to drink 24 glasses of non alcoholic wine of the same volume to equal one glass of alcoholic wine of the same volume (in terms of alcohol) – a glass being defined as 5fl oz.

How many glasses of non alcoholic wine equals 2 standard wines?

If 24 glasses of non alcoholic wine equals 1 standard wine, then 48 glasses of non alcoholic wine will equal 2 standard glasses of wine.

48 glasses of non alcoholic wine is nearly 10 bottles of non alcoholic wine, so there is a absolutely huge margin of error if you want to have a few glasses when breastfeeding.

Can you drink non alcoholic wine when breastfeeding?

Yes you can drink non alcoholic wine when breastfeeding. You can drink up to 48 glasses of non alcoholic wine a day and still be within the government guidelines of 2 standard glasses of wine equivalent. The amount of time post drinking a glass of non alcoholic wine and breastfeeding is certainly much less than the 2 hrs for a standard wine as it has 1/24th of the alcohol already which would be a safe level regardless.

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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