In case you missed the details of Arkansas Boobgate – lemme fill you in. It started last fall when an Arkansas woman was thrown in jail for allegedly endangering the welfare of her child by drinking beer, while breastfeeding. An off-duty waitress – who perceived this as child endangerment, along with a multitude of other assumptions – is the person who called the cops in the small town of Conway, Arkansas. Fast forward to last week, when the district attorney of Conway, Arkansas dropped all charges due to the lack of any evidence of child endangerment.
The well-intended Boobgate mom, who incidentally is from a tiny town just outside of Conway – ironically named Toad Suck,…. [insert juvenile laughter], had no idea there was anything ‘wrong’ with mixing beer and breast. The sanctimonious waitress assumed an awful lot. And the cops? The poor cops were clueless. I kinda feel sorry for the cops in this story. Not for nuthin’ but we are talking Arkansas! If given a map and GPS, I’d be shocked if those officers could locate a woman’s ovaries – so what could they possibly know about breastfeeding rules, regulations or laws? Now Conway, Arkansas has joined Sanford, Florida in the Town-of-Creepy-Presumptuous-Vigilantes Club, and beerish-breastfeeding is the new black hoodie.
Anyhoo, let’s explore the Arkansas Boobgate question: Is it safe to breastfeed and drink alcohol?
Fact: The amount of alcohol in a woman’s blood (BAC- blood alcohol level) is different than the amount of alcohol in her breast milk (ABV-alcohol by volume). ABV reflects the amount of alcohol that will actually reach a nursing baby, and it is variable depending on the mother’s height, weight and rate of metabolism.
Approximate ABV of breast milk in legally intoxicated person: 0.08%.
Approximate ABV of average serving of orange juice is 0.09%. source
Yeah baby! Do the math and pass the juice box! Very little alcohol actually goes into breast milk, average fruit juices on the other hand….
Clarification: No child should ever be left in the care of an intoxicated person and Sydology does not condone irresponsible alcohol consumption while breastfeeding or caring for a child. Whew! That PSA has officially been said!
And the Breast is History
Back in the day, nursing women were encouraged to consume a few beers daily to boost lactation. Many believed that for a healthy baby, good mommies should buy some brewski from the pharmacist and get-their-beer-on daily. Alas, the joke is on great-great grandma; we now know that drinking alcohol is a lactation suppressant. It’s a hormone thing.
Amazingly, there are no specifics guidelines on this boozy mother’s milk issue. The American Pediatric Committee on Drugs, simply states that responsible moderate casual alcohol consumption is safe with breastfeeding. And there are certainly no laws against it.
Lactating Lassie Lessons
1) Alcohol blood levels peak 30-60 minutes after having of a drink.
2) Waiting 2-3 hours per drink before resuming breastfeeding, ensures that most of the ethanol has left the proverbial ‘building’.
3) Pump and bottle feed of you plan on an evening of excessive adult beverages.
4) Yes, there’s an app for that!
Tainted Milk Supply Hall of Fame
Caffeine: Includes coffee, soda, teas, chocolate, some medications. Takes a baby 3-4 months to break down caffeine. No wonder the kid can’t sleep through the night!
Nicotine: Whether it’s ambient exposure to second-hand smoke or a Marlboro Mommy – kids exposed to smoking are more likely to develop ear infections and respiratory diseases like asthma. Zowie Factor: Marlboro Mom has twice as much nicotine in her breast milk than in her own blood stream.
Party Drugs: As if this needs to be said- all recreational drugs are bad news for babies. Can you spell developmental delay? Pothead Mom has eight times more THC in her breast milk than in her own blood stream. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! LactMed database has information on over 450 drugs and breastfeeding safety. When in doubt, ask your pediatrician.
I’ve seen some mommies throw a few drops of merlot into their kid’s water bottle to help them sleep. I’ve heard countless mommies confess to applying scotch to their toddler’s gums to dull the pain of teething. Seems nutty and risky? We are a society of alarmists so everything sounds risky! I’d be more concerned about the proven long term effects of pesticides and lead poisoning.
“Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for breastfeeding mothers.” – Dr.Jack Newman, International Breastfeeding Centre
So the Arkansas Boobgate DA got it right. When you size-up the statistics, the essential benefits of good old-fashioned breastfeeding far outweigh the risks of occasional moderate exposure to caffeine, nicotine and a couple of beers but together.
However, it’s a combo I would not suggest, any more than I would suggest going to Sanford, FL wearing a black hoodie. Umkay?