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Wine and Breastfeeding

wine and breastfeeding

When deciding to have children, there are clearly many more important decisions to worry about than not being able to drink wine. But for wine lovers, nine months can be a long time, particularly if friends, husbands or boyfriends don't share in your sacrifice.

In addition to increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature birth, alcohol can cause a wide range of physical and mental birth defects referred to as FASDs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders). These can include defects in various organs, learning and behavioral problems, and mental retardation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, up to 40,000 babies are born with FASDs in the United States each year.

So, should you really not drink any wine? Answers to this question are mixed. When it comes down to it, there just isn't enough data available for doctors to fully understand how alcohol affects a developing fetus and experimenting is simply unethical. In the U.S. and abroad, medical professionals fall on different sides of the debate, some say that occasional drinks are safe (up to two drinks a day no more than twice a week) while others say that alcohol is never ok, but they all agree that drinking a lot is dangerous.

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Fortunately with today's innovative marketing companies there are many delicious alternatives to keep your wine-loving palate refreshed and entertained without risk of harm to a developing fetus. Some wineries, such as Sutter Home and Ariel, produce de-alcoholized wine-- wine that has had the alcohol removed. It is important to note however that most de-alcoholized wines still contain trace amounts of alcohol (around 0.5%).

If you're looking for all the flavor of your favorite grape varieties along with the antioxidant health benefits without the alcohol, First Blush is a fantastic solution. They produce premium juices made from Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes. While they are quite distinctly juice and not wine, they are rich and lush with flavors reminiscent of your favorite wines. At around $3 - $4 for 11.5 ounces (340 ml) they aren't cheap, but they're no worse than your average $8 bottle of wine (750 ml).

And for celebrations there are many sparkling juices to be found. Major grocery chains like Safeway and Genuardi's carry Martinelli's Sparkling Cider, and specialty supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are a veritable cornucopia of sparkling non-alcoholic juices. From Izze to Ooba to Fizzy Lizzy and more, you're sure to find plenty of flavors to love and enjoy.

Once the wait is over and you are a proud new parent, it's important to remember that alcohol can get into breast milk and be passed on to your baby. As with alcohol during pregnancy the effects are not fully understood, but some studies have suggested that this can inhibit a child's development of motor skills.

Your body will process the alcohol and remove it from your system, so waiting 1 to 2 hours after having a glass of wine is recommended before breastfeeding. Products like Milkscreen detect alcohol in breast milk to help remove the guesswork and ensure the safety of your baby. For more information on alcohol and breastfeeding, check out

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