All Blogs | Does Drinking Beer Help Increase Milk Supply?

All Blogs | Does Drinking Beer Help Increase Milk Supply?

Does Drinking Beer Help Increase Milk Supply?

If you're a breastfeeding mama, you may have heard some buzz around beer and it’s impact on milk supply. But is the information actually true? Does beer increase milk supply? Or maybe a better question to ask is this: are there any connections between beer and breast milk supply? Let's dive into the topic and explore the factors related to beer and its potential impact on milk production. Of course, as always, a decision to consume any alcohol while breastfeeding is one that any mama should discuss with her pediatrician and primary care physician. We sell products and foster a community and are not licensed health care professionals. We are not providing any medical advice.

What in Beer Increases Milk Supply?

Breast milk production is a complex process regulated by hormones and supply-and-demand mechanisms. While some people believe that drinking beer can boost lactation, the scientific evidence supporting this claim is inconclusive. Studies examining the effect of beer on milk production and milk supply have yielded conflicting results.

The belief that beer increases milk supply may stem from the idea that ingredients used in brewing dark beers or “stout” beers like Guinness, contains phytoestrogens. The grains used to make stout beer also contain a polysaccharide that is known to increase prolactin, a hormone associated with lactation.   Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that resemble the female hormone estrogen and have been suggested to impact lactation and even used in history to help women increase milk supply. However, the studies examining the connection between these phytoestrogens and milk production have not provided consistent findings and we separately know that alcohol can have an opposite impact on milk supply.

It's important to note that while beer may contain certain components that could potentially positively influence milk production, such as barley or hops, the alcohol in beer may negatively impact human milk production, depending on the amount. The good news is non-alcoholic beer provides the good stuff (hops and barely) without the alcohol!

Other Ways To Get A Boost In Milk Supply

Mother breastfeeding her baby on the couch

While beer may not be a solution for increasing milk supply, there are various additional factors that can influence your milk production. Taking care of yourself plays a crucial role in supporting breast milk production. Adequate hydration is essential, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids, including water. Staying properly hydrated helps ensure optimal milk production. Additionally, a well-balanced diet rich in whole unprocessed grains, fruits, and vegetables is important for overall health and milk production. Including galactagogues, such as oatmeal, fenugreek, and fennel, in your diet may also support lactation. Lastly, getting enough rest and practicing self-care can positively impact your breast milk supply. Here are some other key aspects that can help you maintain and support a healthy breast milk supply.

Frequent Breastfeeding or Pumping

The frequency of breastfeeding or pumping sessions plays a significant role in maintaining milk supply. Breastfeeding on demand, without strict schedules, helps establish and maintain a healthy milk supply and can help boost milk production. The more frequently you empty your breasts, the more signals your body receives to produce milk. This stimulates the supply-and-demand mechanism, encouraging increased milk production. If you're unable to breastfeed directly, regular pumping sessions can achieve the same effect.

Seeking Professional Support

If you're experiencing difficulties with milk supply or have concerns, seeking support from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional specializing in breastfeeding is highly recommended. These experts can provide personalized guidance and support. They will assess your specific situation, address any underlying issues, and offer strategies tailored to your needs. Professional support can be invaluable in optimizing your breast milk production and overcoming any challenges you may encounter.

How to Consume Alcohol Safely While Breastfeeding

Now, let's address the topic of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. It’s not completely off limits, but it’s important to understand how to consume alcohol safely if you choose to indulge occasionally.

How Much Alcohol Is Allowed To Be Consumed

When it comes to drinking alcohol, it is generally recommended to avoid it completely, especially during the early stages of breastfeeding when you're establishing your milk supply. Consuming alcohol can potentially have adverse effects on your baby's development and sleep patterns. Choosing not to ingest alcohol is the best way to ensure the well-being of your baby and that they’re getting the best milk supply possible.

Excessive consumption of alcohol leading to  high blood alcohol levels can affect a breastfeeding mamas milk ejection reflex or letdown or even lead to less milk supply. Studies have suggested that breastfeeding after one drink or even two alcoholic beverages, including beer, might cause decreased milk intake in babies by about 20%. So if you’re looking to increase your baby’s milk intake, perhaps drinking alcohol isn’t going to get you closer to that goal.

Moderation and Planning

Milkscreen in gift bag next to glass of beer

If you plan to enjoy an occasional alcoholic drink, discuss what could be right for you with your health care professionals.

We want you to be able to celebrate responsibly with the reassurance that your supply is ready for your baby. Try using Milkscreen, our blood alcohol level test strips for breast milk, along with guidelines of waiting 2 to 3 hours after each alcohol drink before nursing. They’re a quick way to check if alcohol is present in your breast milk supply below a de minimus threshold. It only takes two minutes, and then you can determine if you feel comfortable with feeding your baby!

Remember, each person's tolerance to drinking alcohol can vary, and the way alcohol affects breast milk production can differ as well. If you have any concerns or questions about alcohol consumption and breastfeeding, consulting with a healthcare professional or a lactation consultant can provide you with personalized guidance.

Beer Myth… Debunked?

While the belief that beer increases milk supply may persist, the scientific evidence supporting this claim is lacking. To maintain and support a healthy breast milk supply, focus on factors such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, frequent breastfeeding, or pumping, and seeking professional support when needed. Prioritize your well-being and the well-being of your baby, making informed decisions about alcohol consumption while considering the best interests of your child. Remember, every breastfeeding journey is unique, and what works for one mom may not work for another. Trust your body and listen to your instincts. You're doing an incredible job nourishing and caring for your little one. Cheers to you and your breastfeeding journey!

Mother holding her baby in the kitchen while on the phone.