Pump and dump: myth or truth?
That breastfeeding life.
It’s beautiful and heart-warming and magical. (So, so magical!)
But, some days? Mommy really just needs a glass of wine.
And when you’re breastfeeding, that can raise a lot of questions.
There are some who believe Mom’s body should be a pristine temple to create only the purest liquid gold imaginable.
There are others who are cool with making this “Mom” thing work, however they can.
At Dooli™, we tend to be more Column B than Column A. So we wanted to take a closer look at the concept of pump-and-dump — disposing of breastmilk after a night of drinking, to “clear up” your milk supply.
What’s actually safe? What’s cause for concern? And what is the most realistic way for modern women to get through motherhood...which, some nights — let’s be real — requires a drink or two?
What exactly is pump-and-dump?
Here’s the (semi-true) logic behind pump-and-dump:
After you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream and your breast milk, thus contaminating it.
To remove the “bad batch”, you have to PUMP out the tainted milk. Then you DUMP it (throw it away) because it would obviously be harmful for your baby to drink boozy milk.
Once you’ve cleared out the contaminated breast milk, your supply is safe again.
In theory, pump-and-dump sounds like a good idea, right? But it’s not entirely true...
Is pumping and dumping necessary?
The truth is, alcohol does make its way into your milk supply when you drink. But it doesn’t stay there and it doesn’t contaminate your breast milk long-term.
A 2013 study showed that the alcohol level in your breast milk will be roughly equal to the alcohol level in your blood. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) were 0.05%, the alcohol in your breast milk would be 0.05%, too.
So if you nursed while your BAC was at 0.05%, there would be alcohol present in your breast milk.
As your body processes alcohol, it leaves your breast milk the same way it leaves your blood. Any breast milk you express once your BAC is back down to 0% will be alcohol-free.
Think about it: you don’t have to remove any “tainted” blood after drinking, right? It simply clears up. (Hey, thanks, liver!) The same happens with your breast milk.
As long as you nurse once the alcohol has left your system, your breast milk will be completely safe for your baby.
Another false rumor? That pumping and dumping speeds up alcohol leaving your breast milk. Not true. Only time can do that.
As long as the alcohol has left your system, there’s no need to pump and dump. Don’t waste that liquid gold!
How to safely consume alcohol as a nursing mom
Whether you’re drinking out on the town or while curling up with a good book, there are a few guidelines to follow.
WhatToExpect.com says that beer, wine, and even hard liquor are all safe to drink while you’re nursing...in moderation, of course.
If you can, start drinking right after nursing or pumping, to give yourself as much time as possible before baby’s next feeding.
According to La Leche League, the alcohol in one serving of wine takes a 140-pound woman about 2-3 hours to leave her system. The more alcohol you consume, the longer it takes for your breast milk to clear up.
Make sure to give yourself enough time for the alcohol to leave your body before breastfeeding again. If you want to be extra sure your breast milk is booze-free, you can use alcohol test strips like MilkScreen.
A few words of caution…
While studies show that nursing mothers can safely consume alcohol, don’t confuse that with drinking while pregnant. Completely different situation!
That’s not to say you can’t ever have a drink while pregnant. But that’s a whole different conversation (and maybe a different blog post someday!) so don’t apply what we’re saying here to drinking while preggers.
It’s also important to differentiate between enjoying the occasional drink and binge-drinking. Having a couple drinks is generally okay but if you’re consuming large amounts of alcohol, often, you could be putting your baby at risk.
Any time you’ve been drinking, make sure not to co-sleep with your baby. You never want to share a bed if anyone has been consuming alcohol or other substances. It’s just too risky!
Should you ever pump and dump?
The only real reason to pump and dump is for comfort and to prevent engorgement. You can also pump and dump if you need to express milk to maintain your supply.
Some medications and other substances can contaminate your breast milk and stay there until you express the tainted milk. Alcohol doesn’t work like this. But if you suspect that your breast milk is contaminated for any reason, by all means, pump and dump!
In the end, do what feels right for you.
If you want to have a glass or two of rosé, more power to you.
If you feel good pumping and dumping, go for it.
If you choose not to drink at all while breastfeeding, get down with your healthy self!
We’re here cheering you on, Mama, however you choose to live out your motherhood.
Another real-world solution for modern moms:
Don’t get stuck in the cycle of buying expensive diaper pail refill bags straight from the manufacturer. Exercise your right to choose!
Our Diaper Genie® Compatible Bag Adapter allows you to use ANY bag you want in your diaper pail.
Just click the adapter into place to use any plastic shopping bags you have lying around the house — maybe from last week’s wine run? ;) — to corral those diapers.