Nearly every day since my son was born, I’ve had a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, and a glass of wine or beer in the evenings. (I’ve also showered every day, but that’s a different post.) He’s now eight months old, I’m still nursing, and I’ve never pumped and dumped. Alcohol and caffeine do pass into the breastmilk, but only in the tiniest of amounts if one is consuming them moderately. The rule of thumb that I’ve gone by is one I’ve seen many places: “If you’re sober enough to drive, you’re sober enough to breastfeed.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about breastfeeding, and the biggest one I’ve encountered is that you cannot drink any alcohol while breastfeeding. This weekend I learned (via Lactivist Leanings, on twitter) of yet another product aimed at worried parents — MilkScreen — which promises to test the alcohol content of your breastmilk. I am annoyed by the mere existence of this product, and it doesn’t help that the webpage implies that no level of alcohol consumption is safe while you’re nursing.
I know it’s just a stupid product, but it’s yet another example of a stupid and useless product aimed at worried, first-time parents. And specifically, it contributes to pressure on breastfeeding women to eschew alcohol, caffeine, and medications for minor conditions. (In addition to my daily cup of coffee and glass of wine, I will not be parted from my allergy meds.) In some circles, there’s sometimes an attitude that you shouldn’t bother breastfeeding if you aren’t going to do it for two years while following a perfect diet, and I think that attitude — and the advertising by products such as Milkscreen — drives women away from breastfeeding. It’s bad enough that everyone watches you like a hawk when you’re pregnant; who wants another 1-2 years of that?
I try to personally counter these misconceptions, but I’m a busy person. There are only so many times I can publicly nurse and then have a drink. So in the meantime, I’ll just have to blog about it.