Pump & Dump and Sleep When the Baby Sleeps are two of the most thrown around sayings in Postpartum- and both are MEGA EYE ROLL. Sorry, it's true. Want to know why both are MEGA EYE ROLL?? It's because they're bogus! (Eek, bear with us) If you slept when your baby slept, you'd be awake for mere minutes every hour and also, you're not a baby. You're a grown up. (Yes, newsflash, #adulting) Of course the root of the expression is noble and everyone just wants you to get good rest. FINE. But, Sleep When the Baby Sleeps can feel like a directive - and one that you're doing very wrong when it doesn't happen. So, cross it off the list of things to do. You're working really hard and killing it at this whole parenting thing!
Next, Pump & Dump. INSERT MEGA EYE ROLL! Only because its just NOT a thing! (Well, mostly) Alcohol does NOT accumulate in Breastmilk. It leaves the milk as it leaves the blood. So, as your Blood Alcohol Level comes back to down, your milk alcohol levels do too. Additionally, current research shows that less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the nursing parent reaches their milk. It is also shown that Alcohol levels in the milk peak within an hour or so after drinking. (Considerations need to be made depending on body weight, food intake, etc...) So, if you do have reservations about feeding your baby bodymilk after consuming alcohol, it's safe to assume that you can safely nurse while drinking, or around 2 hours after. Finally, it is suggested that alcohol intake be limited to no more than 0.03 oz of alcohol per pound of bodyweight. So research for a 130lb parent, suggested approximately 2oz of liquor, 8oz of wine, or 2 beers. You can do the math to see how much alcohol you can safely consume according to this study!
Now, we know there are exceptions to every rule. If you are intoxicated to the point of passing out or vomiting, then do not feed your baby that milk. Wait until you sober up and your blood alcohol level returns to normal. If you are pumping during that time (wow, dedicated even while disoriented) yes, dump it. There, we said it!
And, if you're away from your baby you can always express milk to alleviate engorgement and maintain supply. Expressing when you feel "full" can help to avoid plugs/clogs and painful engorgement. Pump or hand express with abundance! No one is stopping you! Au contraire- we want you to express! Just not because you drank. No need.
Myths like Pump & Dump keep parents who want to responsibly enjoy an alcoholic beverage while nursing or using expressed milk, feeling guilt, shame, and a sense of failure. You don't have to get rid of that hard earned expressed milk. You can absolutely enjoy a cocktail with your friends, a glass of wine at dinner, a beer at that BBQ, and nurse your baby. The people around you have questions about it? Send them to us...your trusty doulas. ;)