Don’t Judge New Moms For Drinking While Breastfeeding

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I fully support a woman’s right to educate herself, consult with her doctor, and make her own decisions during pregnancy and beyond. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t share this sentiment. You know as well as I do that pregnant women are judged for everything they put in their mouths, and the fun doesn’t stop after the baby is born.

I extensively and obsessively read research and chose to drink moderately while I was pregnant. My midwife was very aware of my every action and supported light drinking during pregnancy. It would stand to reason that I also chose to drink moderately while breastfeeding. Most of the time, this was a non-issue since I chose to pump if I wanted to indulge in more than one drink. But I still felt comfortable abiding by my two-drinks-a-week rule while pregnant and my one-drink-a-day rule while breastfeeding (most often timed after pumping or during my longest feeding gap).

The shitty thing is that people will judge educated women for both of the decisions above. While it is completely your choice when and where you choose to drink regarding your children (if at all), I can personally say that my decision was not made lightly. I talked to medical professionals about it, I read an extensive amount of research, and I weighed the risks.

Judgment for light drinking during pregnancy is one thing, but the same judgment while breastfeeding is quite another. Breastfeeding is hard enough, and new moms don’t need another stumbling block in their path. New moms don’t need the side-eye if they decide to sip on one glass of wine in a public setting before breastfeeding their child. It’s really not anyone’s business.

Thankfully, there are other communities on the Internet that are ready to bust this breastfeeding teetotaler myth:

I have had two glasses of wine as I type this, and I am typing with one hand because I am breastfeeding my son. I believe very strongly that telling women that they can’t drink while nursing is yet another way of undermining breastfeeding. When you breastfeed, apparently, you’re supposed to sit around your house all day and do nothing and see no-one. Screw that.

I don’t drink every day and I rarely get drunk. But I do drink. Since giving birth, I drink to the point of drunkenness about once a month or so. And I have just nursed my baby as normal. I decided I am personally okay with my son occasionally getting 0.06% alcohol (or whatever it is) in his milk, and have no intention of compromising my supply or my nursing relationship by bottle feeding.

I know one mother who quit breastfeeding at 3 months because she said she wanted to have occasional nights out with her husband. She was quite sad to discover that you can drink and breastfeed, and I was very sad to learn that her son won’t get the benefits of breastfeeding because of misinformation.

The State of New Jersey Department of Health adds:

Breastfeeding mothers can have alcoholic beverages occasionally. Women who abuse alcohol (more than two drinks a day or binge drinkers) should not breastfeed.

The thing that sticks out to me among all of this judgment is that it assumes that a mother, pregnant or breastfeeding, seen drinking is a terrible drunk who has no regard for her child. Trust me when I say that the majority of mothers who make this calculated decision to drink moderately while pregnant or breastfeeding have put major thought into the issue. These mothers care deeply about their child’s wellbeing and understand how to assess risk.

(Image: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)