Fact or Fiction? Drinking a beer helps with breastmilk production.

Let’s play a game…

What do you think?  Is this just an old wives’ tale?

For thousands of years, people have been brewing beer and using it to increase their milk supply.  There are written accounts of Greek doctors in Rome developing alcoholic recipes to increase breastmilk production.  During the Middle Ages, women brewed beer in their homes and often added spices that are known to help with milk production.

French beer and breastfeeding ad

But, you know what?  Mothers have said that they’ve seen an increase in their supply when they drank non-alcoholic beers.  So, what’s going on?

Studies have now shown that it’s not actually the beer that is increasing your supply.  It is the ingredients that are in certain beers that helps with production.  Barley/malt, hops, brewer’s yeast, and oats are all recommended galactagogues.

It has also been shown that alcohol inhibits your milk ejection (let down) reflex which means the baby has a hard time getting milk out.  This can then lead to a decrease in supply!

This may all sound like bad news for all you beer loving mommies (like me!), but don’t worry!  Having the occasional drink is fine.  Moderation is key!

So, can I interest you in a nice oatmeal stout?

Are you wondering when you can start breastfeeding again?  The general rule of thumb is if you can legally drive, you are fine to breastfeed your baby.  Alcohol leaves your milk the same way it leaves your bloodstream, so “pumping and dumping” doesn’t work at removing the alcohol.  Pumping and dumping is only good to do if you are missing feedings. This can help ensure that you don’t see a decrease in your supply.  If you want to make sure that your baby receives no alcohol when feeding, the chart below from motherisk.org is a good resource.

Sources:

http://lactogenicdiet.blogspot.com/2011/10/beer-as-galactagogue-brief-history.html

http://creebreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/dear-lc-i%E2%80%99ve-been-told-that-drinking-a-beer-will-help-my-milk-supply-is-that-true-what-about-an-occasional-glass-of-red-wine-with-a-meal-or-for-a-special-occasion/

http://www.motherisk.org/women/updatesDetail.jsp?content_id=347

http://www.breastfeedingbasics.org/cgi-bin/deliver.cgi/content/Drugs/alcohol.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2799511/

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This entry was posted in alcohol, beer, breastfeeding, breastmilk, lactation, recipes, supply, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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