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Free Alcohol and Breastfeeding Calculator For Safe Drinking

Alcohol breastfeeding calculator to help you understand how long alcohol remains in your breastmilk, plus official guidance on drinking and breastfeeding, and the facts you need to know to make informed and safe decisions about your lifestyle.

Alcohol Breastfeeding Calculator and Information on Nursing While Drinking

Alcohol breastfeeding calculator | Image shows a woman holding a glass of wine.

Every year around Christmas time I re-share this post with the following intro for laughs. Of course 2020 was a bit (lot) different, so I couldn’t simply republish without referencing ‘it’.

While this blog is for the most part a positive space, I won’t pretend that spending the festivities isolated from loved ones is easy.

Hopefully some clarification about breastfeeding and alcohol will make the season a little easier.

I’m even including a breastfeeding and alcohol calculator to simplify everything and guide you on exactly when alcohol has left your system.

So, if you want to enjoy the occasional drink of your favourite alcohol responsibly, you can. Whatever the season, and safe in the knowledge of true volume of alcohol in breastmilk.

Drinking and Breastfeeding – Is It Safe?

It’s that time of year again where the family convenes and we all attempt to get along for the few mandatory days we’ll be living in each other’s pockets.

Hovering dangerously close to passively-aggressively ignoring an arrogant parent or insolent sibling is an inevitability, and there’s only one way to survive: it begins with ‘al’ and ends with everyone feeling a little less frayed around the edges… I’m referring to booze, of course.

Because I think there’s a conspiracy; a well-meaning and possibly beneficial one – but a conspiracy nonetheless.

Glass of Wine

Can You Drink Wine When Breastfeeding?

But what of those of us who are pregnant or breastfeeding – can you drink while breastfeeding? How much alcohol is safe?

Well, the good news is that despite what many are led to believe, breastfeeding and alcohol don’t have to be mutually exclusive – the moderate alcohol consumption is perfectly fine.

How clued up are you on the subject of alcohol and breastfeeding? Do you know the facts? Are you sure?

Because I think there’s a conspiracy; a well-meaning and possibly beneficial one – but a conspiracy nonetheless.

I’m an advocate of the truth – and I’m an advocate of allowing those of us with a little common sense and discipline to take responsibility for and regulate ourselves.

Besides which, breastfeeding is intense.

It’s well-documented that nursing rates are dismal, falling far below where we’d like to see them. Nursing is hard enough already, without making it unnecessarily harder.

The truth abouot breastfeeding and alcohol. #breastfeeding #breastfeedingtips #breastfeedingadvice
Breastfeeding and alcohol: is it really as bad as suggested?

Official Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Alcohol

The majority of information available about breastfeeding and alcohol, including from the American Academy of Pediatrics, discourages women from drinking any alcoholic beverage, and certainly not more than a very tiny amount. (See what the NHS says here.)

And while I absolutely do not promote binge drinking to excess for anybody, irrespective of their circumstances – scaremongering is unfair and patronising.

The overwhelming majority of mothers will want to keep their children safe and healthy, and they will not use a post such as this – which is intended to inform truth and allay unwarranted concerns – as an excuse to be irresponsible.

When Can I Breastfeed After Drinking Calculator

Using an alcohol and breastfeeding calculator to check the amount of alcohol which may be present in your breastmilk or the length of time alcohol will remain in your system can be helpful to help you ensure you’re keeping your infant as safe as possible.

I had this one created specifically for the purpose:

1 drink = 12oz 5% beer OR 5 oz 11% wine OR 1.5 oz 40% spirit

Please enter your information above


  • Time is calculated from the beginning of drinking,
  • Alcohol metabolism is constant at 15 mg/dL,
  • Calculations are based upon a woman of 5' 4" in height.
  • Be careful to check the alcohol volume the calculator is based on, compared to what you are drinking.
  1. Koren, G. Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Motherisk Update. Canadian Family Physician 2002; 48:39-41
  2. Ho E, Collantes A, Kapur BM, Moretti M, Koren G.Alcohol and breast feeding: calculation of time to zero level of alcohol in milk. Biol Neonate. 2001;80(3):219-22.

Breastfeeding Alcohol Chart

Alternatively, use this chart to help you understand how long it takes for a unit to leave your system (note this is not necessarily the same as a single drink).

The usual rule is around two hours per standard drink, but this is dependent upon your weight and how many drinks you've consumed, which is why the calculator is a safer bet to use.

Just before we dig into the facts about drinking while breastfeeding, I've a couple of tips for you if you're planning to enjoy a glass of wine (which is totally fine by the way):

  1. It's a good idea to nurse first, or finish a breastfeeding session shortly after beginning your alcoholic drink. Alcohol levels tend to peak in breastmilk around 30-60 minutes after a drink is consumed, so this will give your body time to metabolise the alcohol before you need to nurse again.
  2. If you're comfortable using a breast pump to express milk, keep a supply in the freezer for just in case you drink more than expected, in which case using your alcohol free stash is the safest option. Find out how long breast milk is good for after heating.

Now let's look at the truth about alcohol and breastfeeding...

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Facts

Firstly, contrary to the popular breastfeeding myth, it's not necessary to pump and dump - this is merely an old wives' tale.

Alcohol in the mother's milk is ‘filtered’ at the same rate as alcohol in the bloodstream. This means that the best way to provide uncontaminated milk to your breastfeeding baby is to simply…wait.

Baby Breastfeeding

More significant though is the concentration of alcohol in the milk. The breast milk alcohol level is the crucial piece of information about which we’re being misinformed.

By the time the alcohol enters the baby’s bloodstream, the quantity is negligible.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Breast Milk?

As mentioned above, the standard rule is around two hours per standard drink (see above chart) dependent upon various factors, which is why the calculator is your best bet for safety.

Here’s a simple way to understand the science:

We’ve established above that the maternal milk alcohol level is equal to the maternal blood alcohol level; when her baby ingests that milk, his liver will repeat the function of filtration already carried out by the mother’s liver.

So, alcohol is broken down by the mother’s liver before entering the breastmilk and travelling to the baby's liver, at which point it’s already at very moderate levels - as verified by more than 400 doctors in 2019.

This diluted alcohol will then undergo the same process again by the baby’s liver.

When Is It Safe to Breastfeed After Drinking?

By the time the alcohol enters the baby’s bloodstream, the quantity is negligible.

Bottom line: if you're being sensible, ie. drinking moderate amounts, you can continue to breastfeed throughout your glass of wine or preferred tipple.

I imagine that for the most part, this information will not drastically alter the behaviour of responsible breastfeeding mothers.

Baby Nursing

Caveats for Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

...aka covering my back! My intention is to alleviate concerns for any nursing mother wishing to enjoy a couple of vinos during Christmas and New Year.

However, I’m now going to address the reasons to remain mindful of alcohol intake – just in case this does reach anybody looking for an excuse to behave in a way I would completely reprehend. Here are some of the relevant effects of alcohol:

  • Even tiny amounts of alcohol may impact your baby's sleep,
  • The immature liver of a newborn baby is not fully developed and will not process alcohol as efficiently as an adult's,
  • Alcohol inhibits a mother's breast milk production and may negatively affect your milk supply,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption may decrease milk ejection reflex in the mother,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption skews perception,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption leads to irrational behaviour,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption precipitates irresponsible behaviour,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption induces clumsiness,
  • Excessive alcohol consumption causes drowsiness,
  • Skewed perception + irrationality + irresponsibility + clumsiness + drowsiness is the perfect combination for endangering your baby or otherwise causing them harm. But any one of these factors is enough by itself.

And, if you’re pregnant? Your unborn child is far more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than your breastfeeding infant and frankly, you need to suck it up. It is what it is and there’s no getting away from the significant side effects associated with drinking during pregnancy,

Console yourself with the fact that next year, Christmas is one hundred percent on your terms; a brief reprieve from the usual stresses of the festive season.

Mother With Painted Nails Nursing Infant.

Can You Drink While Breastfeeding?

Ultimately, the point of this post is to allow you to enjoy your usual Christmas tipple without fear or guilt. (Also applies to other special occasions, or just because.)

You’ve cooked the baby (and possibly the entire Christmas dinner too) - the least you new moms deserve is an indulgent Baileys.

Especially if you’re entertaining the MIL this year. In which case – good luck, and I won’t judge you for pouring a double measure. Promise.

Did the info in this post surprise you? Has it changed the way you feel about drinking whilst breastfeeding - and will it change the amount you consume? Please share with your breastfeeding friends!

For more breastfeeding posts, head over to Breastfeeding – Help, Advice, Support.


Monday 29th of October 2018

I liked this post a lot. The only thing I could address is the “pump and dump.” Most people are well aware that we can simply wait to breastfeed our children, but failing to feed or pump for an extended period of time can not only lower milk production but also be incredibly uncomfortable!

Kate Tunstall

Monday 29th of October 2018

Glad you liked the post.

To address your comment re pumping, I thought it was clear from the context of the post that I was referring specifically to the incorrect advice to 'pump and dump'. As for whether a nursing mother should express before, during or after having alcohol, it obviously depends on the circumstances and is personal preference.

Whether there's alcohol involved or not, if you're leaving your baby for an extended period then expressing may become necessary; but that's not really what this post is about.


Sunday 5th of August 2018

I’ve just went and grabbed your book to read ? I knew you could have a drink but I didn’t know how it all “worked” – For me, I’m kind of thinking if I have a glass of wine with dinner, or a G&T on a Saturday evening, the amount is just so tiny. I’m not one for binge drinking anyway and I kind of think surely having a water in between drinks is going to help push the alcohol out of your system and, most importantly, keep you hydrated. It’s like you said, being responsible.

Kate Tunstall

Sunday 5th of August 2018

Thanks Kat, I hope you like it and find it helpful!

Absolutely, it's about being sensible. Life doesn't have to stop if you're responsible.

Kate Tunstall

Friday 11th of May 2018

Thanks Lauren! By the way, there's actually no need to 'pump and dump'; it's an old wives' tale. So enjoy the odd glass guilt-free! You're doing something so valuable for your baby, but we need a little me-time too!


Thursday 22nd of February 2018

A Sip of “Martini on the rocks” is the Mum’s pacifier.

Lucy Cantley

Monday 3rd of April 2017

So refreshing to read a post like this. There is so much misinformation about alcohol and breastfeeding (and alcohol and pregnancy). I’ve never seen any hard evidence that ONE occasional glass of wine or beer will harm your unborn child, or your breastfeeding child, yet some woman preach like it’s the most irresponsible thing to do and your child WILL get fetal alcohol syndrome. I’ve had the odd glass of wine while pregnant, and plan on having the odd glass of wine to keep me sane as a new (hopefully breastfeeding) mother.

Kate Tunstall

Thursday 6th of April 2017

Thanks Lucy. I'm a massive breastfeeding advocate - but I also feel strongly that women should be educated and empowered to make their own responsible decisions!