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What Your Need to Know About Breastfeding and Alcohol

Chelsea Gonzales

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After carrying a baby—and therefore denying yourself alcoholic beverages for nine months—you’re likely pretty ready to enjoy an adult drink once baby is born. Unfortunately if you’re breastfeeding, even once the baby is out, enjoying the occasional drink or two does require a little bit of knowledge and planning.

Notice that I didn’t say drinking is out completely for breastfeeding mothers. No, nursing mamas can absolutely enjoy an alcoholic drink once in awhile. As long as the drinking is done very occasionally and responsibly, all will be well.

The trick to drinking safely while breastfeeding is education. Therefore, I am going to use this article to help educate you on the ins and outs of consuming alcohol while breastfeeding.

The Effects of Alcohol on Baby and Mother

While only a small amount of alcohol actually makes it into breast milk, it is important to remember that by drinking and nursing, you may transfer some alcohol to your baby’s system. This can lead to drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and (in extreme cases) abnormal weight gain and slow development in baby.

There is also a chance too much alcohol can cause a decreased milk ejection reflex in mother, meaning less successful nursing sessions.

Because of all this, it is important to drink only small amounts at a time—nursing mothers should avoid becoming drunk—and do what you can to ensure none of the alcohol makes it into your baby’s system. Luckily, there are ways to go about this.

Things to Consider Before Drinking

Before drinking, you will want to have a plan.

Know going in that you will need to stop after one or two drinks, as the more alcohol you consume, the longer it takes to clear the body. You will also need to plan to wait until the alcohol has been sufficiently cleared from your body before nursing, which will likely mean pumping in advance in order to have something to feed baby during this waiting period.

During your planning, you may want to keep in mind that heavier people can metabolize alcohol more efficiently than lighter people, so size should be taken into consideration. Lastly, it is worth knowing that older babies metabolize alcohol much more efficiently than newborns, and newborn livers could be damaged by even small amounts of alcohol.

What to Do After Drinking

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to wait for the alcohol to leave your system after you’ve enjoyed an adult beverage and before breastfeeding your little one. This usually takes three to four hours.

There is no benefit to pumping and dumping, as the alcohol will leave your breast milk as it leaves your bloodstream, and pumping will not help the alcohol leave your system any more quickly. That said, some women find that their breasts become too full during the post-drinking waiting period. In this case, pumping or hand-expressing and disposing of a small amount of milk can be helpful.

It is important to note that due to the sleep-inducing effect of adult beverages, co-sleeping with alcohol in your system is never recommended. This is especially true if you do happen to drink a little too much, but it’s always best to follow this rule even when only small amounts of alcohol are consumed.

How Postpartum Doulas Help New Mothers Settle Into Their Parenting Styles

Chelsea Gonzales

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Almost every new mother needs help at some point or other. For some, this help may come from a close relative or friend. However, many are hesitant to ask for help because they are afraid of having their parenting style criticized.

This is understandable. Many people— especially those from older generations—are quick to share their parenting opinions and push their favorite “tips” on younger mothers. They feel that since they did things one way and it worked for them, everyone should go down this path. Not only is this annoying to brand-new mamas, it can be pretty discouraging as well.

In order to avoid this discouragement, many mamas avoid requesting help entirely and never receive the support they need during the postpartum weeks. This doesn’t have to be the case. Postpartum doulas are the perfect helping hand for mothers who have just given birth, and they make a point of helping mothers settle into their own parenting style.

How does a doula go about this? Read on to learn more.

A Listening Ear

A doula is, before all else, a listener. She takes the time to sit with her clients and really listen to what they think and what they want. She acknowledges without judgement or critique, and takes note of everything that is said. She may even ask questions of the parents in order to ensure she fully understands their wishes.

A Wealth of Knowledge

While the doula always listens first, she is also happy to help those who are unsure about certain aspects of parenting by providing well-researched and unbiased information on a variety of topics. By offering up her wealth of knowledge, she can help new parents come to their own well-informed parenting decisions, helping them develop a parenting style that is their own.

A Respectful Attitude

After listening to what her clients really want, a postpartum doula respects those desires by adhering to those wishes throughout her stint with the family. As long as the children and parents are safe, she will never push a parent to change their way of parenting and will do her best to match that parenting style while caring for both the family’s older children and the newborn infant.

A Supportive Personality

Postpartum doulas are some of the most supportive people you will ever meet. They don’t discourage a struggling new mother, but instead lift her up and encourage her to keep trying. That said, if a mom decides to change paths because the current path isn’t working, a doula will be supportive of that as well, offering understanding and respect.

An Extra Pair of Hands

Obviously, a postpartum doula is also around to offer an extra pair of hands. Sometimes those extra hands are exactly what new parents need in order to establish their parenting style and create a solid foundation for their parenting future. After all, it’s pretty difficult to make big parenting decisions and build a new identity as a parent when you’re struggling just to stay afloat.

Do you need a postpartum doula to come and help you settle into your parenting style? We’d love to help! Please contact us today for more information.