Originally this post was titled “Drinking while Pregnant,” which seems similiar to “Drinking while Breastfeeding.” I missed the boat about the drinking pregnant lady so am seizing the opportunity to write about the drinking milk maid. However, I wanna touch on both topics because most people do it and few people talk about it.

In my experience, people tend to get excited when talking about drinking caffeine and alcohol. However, emotions start to fly when women talk about drinking alcohol when pregnant and breastfeeding.

Is it okay to drink while pregnant and breastfeeding?

It depends on who you ask and where you live when deciding if
drinking is right for you. My first OB GYN was completely against
drinking while pregnant-not a drop she said. Which was fine by me but the real kicker was when she said I couldn’t workout with a heart rate over 140. A heart rate of 140 bpm is the textbook recommendation for pregnant women who want to workout. Of course, I wanted to be safe but also knew that maintaining your current workout routine within reason was also widely accepted among the medical community. That was my first and last appointment with that doctor.

My progressive thinking OB GYN.

My second appointment was with a doctor who suggested I continue working out everyday and pay attention to my perceived exertion not my heart rate. I still bought a heart rate monitor just to KIR (keep it real) as I tend to get a little carried away when working out. In the same visit she answered my drinking question by telling me one drink here and there while pregnant is fine. In fact, pregnant women in France are encouraged to drink one glass of wine everyday. However, if you’re the type of person where one drink quickly turns into three then drinking while pregnant isn’t a good idea. She said the US is very conservative with drinking alcohol compared to the rest of the world, I completely agree. I appreciated her honesty about drinking while pregnant because I expected her to say the standard response-no alcohol while pregnant. I figured she’d say that for liability reasons, which I understand. She sealed the deal with me when she encouraged me to workout everyday while pregnant.

If you decide to drink alcohol while breastfeeding you can pump and dump. Right?

You may have heard that you can drink like crazy and pump and
dump to keep your breast milk clean? From what I’ve read, that doesn’t work. Supposedly, alcohol is metabolized the same way
while breastfeeding as it normally is. That makes sense to me. For me, one beer with lots of food, well timed (during a feeding or immediately afterward) is what I’m comfortable with. It still feels a little funny breastfeeding and washing it down with a fat tire but it takes some time for the alcohol to get into the bloodstream. And the amount that gets into your breastmilk is minimal with one drink. Surprisingly a midwife told me the other night that drinking beer while breastfeeding helps your milk supply. Which I’ve also read online. Funny thing is people tend to believe what we want to believe. And there’s plenty of stuff on the internet that supports drinking and not drinking during these special times. Personally, I’d rather error on the side of caution because it’s such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things.

Before I became pregnant I imagined that giving up the caffeine and beer while pregnant would be a bummer. Boy was I surprised when the first trimester nausea set in and Mac n cheese with a side order of pizza was all I wanted. A diet coke here and there to wash those carbs down was a real treat. I’ve always been a big H2O fan so got really good at chugging the water. I’m not a heavy drinker but was a “one a day” kinda girl before getting pregnant. One coffee in the morning to get the party started and one tasty beer at night while making dinner to celebrate the evening. In the end, I had a little caffeine here and there and maybe a total of 2 glasses of wine during my entire pregnancy.

By the second trimester I was used to not drinking so it wasn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact I think limiting my caffeine and not drinking alcohol for 40 weeks was good for me. If I wanted something special when out to dinner I ordered a Shirley Temple.

Variety is the spice of life.

All in all, being pregnant allowed me to embrace another level of
awareness. Just because it’s 5pm and I’m out and about with friends doesn’t mean I necessarily want a drink every time. Sometimes, I noticed that having a beer was more than a habit than anything else. Being pregnant encouraged me to think outside the box in more ways than one. I relished the opportunity to redefine my idea of happy hour in the beer capital (Portland, OR) of the US by enjoying those beat up looking maraschino cherries again as an adult.

Cheers to you and whatever you decide to drink!