We often hear people telling pregnant or breastfeeding women to stay away from alcohol and cigarettes. But do we really know the reason behind this? Consumption of more than 1 drink a day by the nursing mother is considered harmful for the health of the infant. There are several negative effects of engaging in alcohol consumption during the period of nursing and this may vary depending upon the age of the infant, the quantity of drinking and the frequency of drinking. The below mentioned are some of the major side effects of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding:
- Alcohol tends to cross into breast milk and harms the infant as well as the mother. Babies who are less than 3 months in age metabolize breast milk more slowly than the older infants and hence they might face more side effects from larger doses of alcohol.
- The baby who feeds on the milk of a mother who consumes alcohol might become sleepy very quickly but they may not be able to sleep for long periods.
- It is very dangerous to take care of an infant while being intoxicated. Drinking large amounts of alcohol might make the mother sleepy and that could prove to be very risky for the baby if no one else is around.
- Mothers who drink heavily during the breastfeeding phase have infants who have slow motor skills and they tend to grow more slowly as compared to other babies.
- While the barley present in beer might be able to increase milk production, too much alcohol can actually reduce the availability of milk for the infant. Alcohol hampers the release of oxytocin, which is crucial in getting the milk from the milk ducts to the nipple.
The alcohol content present in the breast milk of a breastfeeding mother is highest after 30 to 90 minutes of having a drink. It might take up to 2 to 3 hours for the alcohol to be cleared from the breast milk and this might be a long period of time to avoid breastfeeding the infant. Thus after consuming alcohol it is very much possible that it will be present in the breast milk and will surely cause harm to the baby.