Australian Government Department of Health
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Alcohol consumption and breastfeeding
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Women who are breastfeeding are also advised that not drinking is the safest option.1

Alcohol enters the breast milk and may stay there for several hours. Alcohol may affect milk production and this can cause babies to eat less and sleep less. Alcohol can also affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord development which continue to grow after birth.2

Women should be advised to:

  • Not drink alcohol during the first month after the baby is born and until breastfeeding is well established;
  • Limit their alcohol intake after this first month (if they choose to drink) to no more than two standard drinks a day; and
  • Avoid drinking immediately before breastfeeding.3
The option to express milk prior to consuming alcohol should be suggested, bearing in mind the amount of time that it may take for the alcohol concentration in the breast milk to return to zero. This amount of time varies between woman to woman.4

The table below provides weight-based estimates of the amount of time it takes for alcohol to be cleared from breast milk. This model assumes an average height of 162 cm and that alcohol metabolism is constant at 15mg/dL. Women should be advised that this table is a guide only and the actual time required for alcohol to clear from the milk will vary across individuals.5

Maternal weight (kg)1 Australian
standard drink
2 Australian
standard drinks
3 Australian
standard drinks
4 Australian
standard drinks
5 Australian
standard drinks
6 Australian
standard drinks
7 Australian
standard drinks
50
1:51
3:43
5:35
7:27
9:18
11:11
13:03
59
1:42
3:26
5:09
6:52
8:36
10:19
12:02
66
1:37
3:15
4:53
6:31
8:10
9:48
11:26
70
1:33
3:07
4:41
6:15
7:50
9:24
10:57

Source: National Health and Medical Research Council, (2009). Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.


For more information on refer to alcohol and breastfeeding leaflet by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

1 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009).Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
2 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009).Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
3 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009). Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
4 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009).Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
5 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009).Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.