When to Pump and Dump

A few years back pumping and dumping was a recommendation given to mamas who consumed alcohol and/or prescriptions drugs that were incompatible with breastfeeding. The thought was by removing the milk, you would also remove the harmful substance. We now know that pumping and dumping does not necessarily remove alcohol and/or a potentially harmful substance from breastmilk. Instead, the substance metabolizes out of the milk the same way it does out of the blood, with time.

So why would we ever need to pump and dump? To preserve your milk supply! For example, if you plan to go out and have a few drinks , you would need 1.5 hours per drink for it to metabolize out if your milk safely enough to feed baby (with a max of 3 drinks). So say you have 2 drinks. It’s recommended to wait 3 hours before safely feeding baby. If you have an infant that nurses every 2-3 hours, you might want to pump within this 3 hour time frame to make sure you maintain your milk supply. In this case, you want to pump to keep your milk supply on track and dump the milk to be sure you don’t expose baby to the alcohol.

Pumping and dumping does not remove alcohol from your milk. But it can be used to preserve your milk supply while you’re enjoying drinks. In time, the alcohol will metabolize out of your milk and it will be safe for baby to nurse wether or not you pump and dump. Stick with the 1.5 hours time after each drink recommendation to stay on the safe side and not expose baby to alcohol. However, if you have 1-2 drinks and you feel sober enough to drive a car before the recommended time is up, it’s probably safe to breastfeed as well!

So what if you have an older baby and you don’t necessarily need to pump or nurse every 3 hours to protect your supply? Do you have to pump and dump? Nope! In time, the alcohol will metabolize out of your milk. There is no need to pump and dump if you’re not worried about a possible temporary dip in your milk supply.

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