Midwives and other healthcare professionals have long touted the benefits of drinking before breastfeeding, believing that it will make infants relax as well as boost the mother\'s production of milk.
In the current small study, researchers looked at the effect of alcohol drinking on the hormonal response of 17 healthy, nonsmoking women with infants between the ages of 2 and 4 months.
After drinking alcohol-containing orange juice, equivalent to the amount of alcohol in one or two glasses of wine, the women used electric breast pumps to stimulate their production of breast milk. The researchers recorded the amount of time it took for the first droplet of milk to be produced as well as the total amount of milk pumped during a 16-minute period.
Normally, levels of prolactin and oxytocin, hormones crucial to the production and flow of breast milk, rise when babies are at the breast or when breastfeeding moms use breastpumps. When the study participants consumed alcohol, however, their oxytocin levels dropped by 78%, levels of prolactin increased more than three-fold. These hormones, which usually work in tandem, go in separate directions after women have one or two drinks.
As a result, the women who consumed alcohol produced less milk overall, and their breastmilk took longer to flow.
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