I have some great news, so mothers rejoice: It is okay to consume some alcohol and breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding. Little alcohol actually comes through the milk. Some beers have even proven to increase breast milk production. (Non-alcoholic beers are equally effective, but where's the fun in that?)
However, it's not a good idea to go overboard on the booze. Some alcohol does make its way into the breast milk and babies less than 3 months old have immature livers and metabolize alcohol at half the rate of adults. Excessive alcohol consumption does effect the baby.
How much is too much? An excellent guide to go by: If you are okay to drive, then you are okay to breastfeed.
How long does it take to enter the breast milk? Approximately 30 to 60 minutes after consumption or 60 to 90 minutes if drank with food.
What if I get drunk? If you go overboard on the alcohol, then you should wait until you're sober to breastfeed. After 9 months of sobriety, women often find their tolerance for alcohol is much lower than before, so take your time in discovering your new limits.
Do I need to pump and dump? No. Alcohol leaves the breast milk as it leaves the body. Once your blood alcohol level reaches safe levels, then your breast milk is safe for the baby to consume. The only time you would want to pump and dump is if you become engorged and need to pump or hand express some for comfort.
So, enjoy your drinks once baby arrives and don't feel guilt over having an occasional drink while breastfeeding. Just remember, it's never okay to co-sleep while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.