FINALLY, AN ANSWER TO "CAN I DRINK WHILE BREASTFEEDING?"
After abstaining from alcohol (and many other things) while pregnant, new moms often google "can I drink when breastfeeding?" We sure asked!
There's lots of conflicting information out there so we've asked 2 best friends, the founders of Au Liquid Gold beer, Demetra and Araceli to give us the "let-down."
What is Au Liquid Gold? It's definitely not your average beer - it's a "mama brew" that is specifically curated for breastfeeding mothers (yes, you read that right.) It is packed with nutrients to support milk production and help new mothers recover.
Here's what they have to say:
1. Tell us how your idea for Au Liquid Gold came about.
My girlfriend and now business partner, Araceli and I, delivered our firstborns at the same time. She lived in Morocco at the time, and we would share a beer over the phone while we talked about our days and exchanged all our new mama stories, funny moments, and concerns/questions. We looked forward to our nightly beer ritual as our daily treat and noticed that it would help with our milk supply and nursing.
I had tried mama teas, supplements, cookies, and the one nursing aid that helped was dark beer. I would even wake up full of milk, needing my baby to wake up and feed! Here the idea of Au Liquid Gold was born. We have spent three and a half years working on our passion project with the hope to help mamas feed their babies with the milk their bodies magnificently make all the while celebrating motherhood.
photo: Founders Demetra & Araceli nursing their babies
2. Any roadblocks along the way before your beer came to market?
At times, it felt we hit roadblocks every step of the way. We were not looking for any free rides, but we had to overcome many obstacles that felt sexist and very personal at times. The beer industry is a male space, a boys' world. And not to say there aren’t some amazing women working in the industry, but it is definitely predominately men that share an old school mentality.
We faced production problems with a brewery we were working with, issues with the TTB regarding approval of our label and recipe issues that stemmed from our use of specialty ingredients. We even faced issues with consultants that were hired for legal advice that didn't perform their professional duties. The list goes on and our stories were intense, but we learned from every experience and are who we are today because of it all. Also, as we are creating a new market, we have had to navigate everything on our own; the journey has often felt daunting.
3. There is so much conflicting information about drinking while nursing. What is the real deal and what does the latest research say? When exactly should moms be drinking your beer...before nursing, during, right after?
Like every other area of life, you have to be responsible and find balance/moderation. We do not encourage excessive drinking, especially not while nursing! There is plenty of scientific research showing that having a beer and nursing will not harm your baby. Most beers are around 6% alcohol, but can go up to as high as 12%. Our beer is 3.9%, on par with the levels of many kombuchas.
Through our marketing, we fully educate mamas on the best time to have an Au Liquid Gold so you don't pass any alcohol along to your baby. On our website we also explain all the health benefits of what we are offering in Au Liquid Gold.
According to doctors and lactation specialists, the best times to consume a beer is during a breastfeeding session or right after you put your baby to bed. This is because the alcohol does not immediately affect the breast milk (same rules apply to your milk as to your blood level), and there is ample time for the body to process it before the next feeding session.
According to Dr. Bridget Young, a doctor of Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition who specializes in maternal and child nutrition and is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), an occasional glass is actually best consumed during a breastfeeding session. This is because the alcohol does not immediately affect the breast milk, and there is ample time for the body to process it before the next feeding session. It takes approximately thirty minutes for the alcohol to hit your system. This way your baby is exposed to very minimal if any alcohol at all and then mama has at least two to three hours before the next feed, which is plenty of time to process a beer.
Dr. Young says, “Your BAC (blood alcohol level and thus your milk alcohol) is highest 30 – 90 [minutes] after drinking. Since alcohol leaves the breast milk as quickly as it enters, we can take advantage of timing to even further minimize any infant exposure. This way the baby is exposed to very minimal alcohol and then the mother has at least three hours before the baby’s next feed, which is plenty of time to process one glass of wine.” And remember that 1 glass of wine usually has between 13-15% alcohol.
4. There's been lots of backlash with moms posting instaphotos of themselves drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Have you ladies faced anything similar while launching your beer company?
Of course we are met with questions and criticism at times; our mission is controversial to some! A lot of women/mamas have been programmed to believe that having any trace of alcohol in your system will seriously harm their babies. We live in fear of judgment and that we are underperforming as new mamas.
Additionally, many moms are not fully educated on alcohol consumption and breastfeeding and are operating off of information they have heard, leaving them confused and full of self-doubt. We want to help move mamas away from the space of self judgement and of judging other mamas. We are all in this together, and there is no handbook on what to expect and how to react - we are all learning as we go. That being said, we are not saying you/we NEED alcohol to survive motherhood. Yes, on some days having a beer at the end of a day may help you to relax and unwind. It is a European mentality to take care of your own needs and have an occasional drink if you feel fit. We are by no means encouraging throwing back numerous drinks or taking shots and then feeding your babe.
We have and will continue to try to educate mamas on how to have a drink and responsibly nurse your baby. At the end of the day, if it doesn't feel right for you, please do not do it. Going with your gut as a mom is always the way to go!!
photo: @jessiejamesdecker and @bewellwitharielle sparked online debate on drinking while breastfeeding.
5. What exactly in your beer helps with milk production and how is your beer different from other "regular" beers on the market?
We like to call Au Liquid Gold a “mama brew.” We are not just a beer. We have worked with brew masters, nutritionists and scientists to test out different ingredients and recipes. Au Liquid Gold contains hops and barley like most beers, and we’ve also added organic oats, fenugreek, red raspberry leaf, coconut milk, and red raspberry seed. All of our specialty ingredients help with promoting milk production as well as healing post-delivery.
There have been endless tastings, notes, changes, additions, subtractions, and countless conversations about exactly what we want nutritionally, all the while making sure to not compromise the body and palette of our beer.
We have, of course, done our due diligence on the scientific side as well as tasted, tasted and tasted some more. We have not strayed from our vision of quality of the beer at any point. We always have our mama, milk-making women warriors at the forefront of our minds. Ultimately, this is all about making mamas and their babies happier and healthier.
6. What is "pump and dump" and when should a mom practice this?
I don't want to preach and I am not an MD, so please take all of what I say as a fellow mama that is educated in the world of breastfeeding and what works and feels right for me personally. A lot of women believe they need to pump and dump after consuming alcohol so as to not pass it on to their babies. But alcohol enters and leaves breastmilk the same way it does your blood stream, so if you feel buzzed or drunk, do not breastfeed. If you have a night out with your girls or partner and have a few drinks, go to bed and wait until morning. If you wake up feeling healthy, then treat your new day as you would any.
I was never in a place while breastfeeding where I was drinking too much and dealing with hangovers in the AM, so it felt healthy for me to breastfeed my baby. If you are drinking two, three, four drinks every night I would not advise breastfeeding and instead consult your pediatrician for advice.
7. Where can breastfeeding moms get Au Liquid Gold?
We are so excited to finally be available for purchase! Our first focus has been hitting the LA market, and growing organically. We are available at Wally's in Beverly Hills as well as through their online shop (they can ship anywhere in the US that we are legally permitted to cross state lines).
We are also available at the Chateau Marmont Hotel and Farm Shop in Brentwood. We are in the process of being picked up by a few local grocers and amazing restaurants in Venice and West Hollywood, California, but will announce them once all is set through our Instagram and Facebook channels.
Our goal is to be available in grocery stores and restaurants throughout the US and then onto Europe, Australia, Asia, and Central and South America...baby steps!
For more information and resources on alcohol & breastfeeding: