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Jessie James Decker triggered a big time social media response last month when she posted to Instagram a photo of herself holding a glass of rosé while breastfeeding her son. The country singer’s caption said: “Cheers bitches.”
Well, you can just imagine the, ahem, range of responses — from those provoked to ponder quietly, "How much wine can I drink while breastfeeding?" to those more vocal commenters ready to call Child Protective Services on the star for the offense.
She was flooded with comments bashing her choice, with one comparing her drinking to hardcore drug use: “There is never a good reason to consume alcohol when breastfeeding. Hmmm, crack cocaine is metabolized quickly too, why don't you smoke a rock after you nurse the baby, it should be metabolized before you nurse again! Thats how dumb that logic is...”
A few offered words of support, with one mom writing, “NEWSFLASH EVERYONE!! It takes 30-60 minutes for alcohol to reach breast milk. If a mother drinks and finishes a cocktail within this time period, her milk will not be affected until about an hour has passed. Alcohol is not stored or 'trapped' in breast milk, it returns to the blood stream once metabolized by the body... ALSO realize that acetaldehyde, the toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism, doesn’t pass into breast milk at all. EDUCATE. YOUR. DAMN. SELVES.”
The bashing and complimenting back and forth in the comments — presumably from mostly non-scientists — goes on and on.
So how much of this is just plain mom shaming, and how much can nursing moms safely drink?
The Feast wanted to get to the bottom of the breastfeeding argument, so we turned to Nicole Avena, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler for some answers. And to borrow a phrase from a commenter, NEWSFLASH EVERYONE!!!! A little bit of alcohol is officially OK.
“The effects of alcohol on breastfeeding are directly related to how much the mother consumes,” she says. “If your baby is nursing well, then one glass of wine here or there is fine, but it is best to drink it after you nurse, as studies have shown that drinking while nursing can reduce how much your baby will nurse.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states a similar view: “Not drinking is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. But one alcoholic beverage per day is generally not known to be harmful, especially if the mother waits at least two hours after a single drink before nursing.”
Jesse, who shares children Vivianne, 4, Eric, Jr., 3, and 5-month-old Forrest with former football player Eric Decker, refuses to apologize. “It was bananas. A lot of people had a problem with it,” Jessie said. “I have three children. I know what I’m doing now. And it’s totally OK to toast to a celebration and have a drink while you’re breast-feeding… After three children I’ve learned about what things to worry about and what things not to worry about and a sip of wine isn’t one of them!”
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