Milkface Nursingwear Inc

What's new and on my mind at milkface

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Very puzzling

I haven't wrapped my head around this yet - I just heard about a new product called MilkScreen. It's designed to test breastmilk for alcohol. Huh?, you say. Yep, that was my first reaction, too. It seems that North American women are so reckless that they can't tell when they've had too much to drink and it might be better to feed their baby pumped milk. Haven't they heard of the no-cost alternative? If you feel the effects of alcohol, so will your baby. If you don't, they won't so go ahead and nurse.

This product disturbs me on many levels but I think the most upsetting one is this - what message is it sending? That we need to avoid anything less than optimal while nursing? That formula is better than breastmilk after we've had one glass of wine? Breastfeeding is a very human act and humans are imperfect. And the beauty of it is that Mother Nature was well aware of this when she created breastfeeding - the milk of a well-fed, healthy woman does not differ appreciably from that of a malnourished woman in a third world country. Similarly having a few glasses of wine with dinner or a beer on a Sunday afternoon is not going to affect your milk enough to make it a smarter move to use formula for that feeding. It gives too much weight to the idea that mom must be perfect for her breastmilk to have worth, and anything less than perfect may harm her baby. A prime example of how marketing trumps common sense!

Here's some info from about the effects of alcohol on breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding and Alcohol
By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC

Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) is not harmful to the nursing baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs classifies alcohol (ethanol) as a “Maternal Medication Usually Compatible With Breastfeeding.”
Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.
It is recommended that nursing moms avoid breastfeeding during and for 2-3 hours after drinking (Hale 2002).
There is no need to pump & dump milk after drinking alcohol, other than for mom's comfort -- pumping & dumping does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk.
Alcohol does not increase milk production, and has been shown to inhibit let-down and decrease milk production (see below).
If you're away from your baby, try to pump as often as baby usually nurses (this is to maintain milk supply, not because of the alcohol). At the very least, pump or hand express whenever you feel uncomfortably full - this will help you to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis.
In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom's blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom's body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breastmilk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.
Always keep in mind the baby's age when considering the effect of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly.


At 1:17 PM , Blogger Kat said...

Well.... I for one am excited about it! I understand that there are women out there, who don't want to drink at all while breastfeeding, but there are all types of women with different lifestyles and that is what this product is for.
I myself I am one of those Moms that enjoys a cocktail here and there, especially while going out on a special occasion I usually pump and dump. I know the rule of thumb about waiting a couple of hours before you breastfeed, but that rule is uncertain. Women come in all different shapes and sizes and it varies on how much you have had to drink, what you have had to drink, how much you weigh, how your body metabolized alcohol, etc. etc.
I am so relieved that now I have a way to know with certainty that I am not passing it on to my baby.

At 6:03 AM , Blogger public breastfeeder said...

I think the whole thing is stupid. We are breastfeeding so that our babies can have the best, right? Why would you want to consume alcohol and pose ANY risk on your baby? I think if you can't wait until your baby is done breastfeeding, you must be an addict to a certain extent. I still think that breastmilk with alcohol is better than formula so I do commend you on that, but seriously, why drink at all?

At 6:05 AM , Blogger public breastfeeder said...

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