Prev Next

Breast milk or alcohol: which is worse for your baby?

By Alice Bradley

Good news, ladies! Binge drinking will not harm your unborn fetus! Balance that 40-ounce on your ballooning midsection, and damn the naysayers!
A recent study performed at Oxford University showed that a single incident of binge drinking is not likely to harm a fetus. (Binge drinking, incidentally, is defined as five or more drinks in a single night—a number that would permanently damage me, much less my unborn child. But then, I am a delicate flower.) While other studies have shown that binge drinking during pregnancy can wreak havoc on brain development, researchers concluded that it’s routine binge drinking that’s a problem, and not the occasional binge.

Now, one might ask why this is worth being studied. Are we looking to encourage binge drinking during pregnancy? Do we just want to watch pregnant women go nuts for one night of their gestation? One would hope not. The study does have implications for the moderate consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, though. (If a binge won’t harm a baby, could this mean that a pregnant woman who ingests a single glass of wine is not, in fact, the devil?) Not to mention, there are undoubtedly women out there who may have had a few too many before they realized they were knocked up. So here, hungover, panicky pregnant women: everything’s probably okay. But for the rest of you, this study should not be your excuse to break open a box of wine and curl in bed with it and your giant crazy straw. I know that’s what you were planning.

While drinking during pregnancy may have been given a bad rap, drinking after pregnancy is a problem—when it’s your child and the drink she is drinking is your breast milk. Because hey, guess what—you’re making her fat!

Ahem. Let’s try that again. A study has shown that adiponectin, a protein found in breast milk, is directly related to childhood obesity. The higher the levels of adiponectin in the milk, the more likely the child is to be overweight by the age of two. What this means is still unclear, because high levels of adiponectin in adults actually correlates with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. One possibility is that infants can’t adequately absorb the protein. But there’s no definitive answer, and as we know, breast milk has numerous benefits for babies. Including, strangely enough, a lower risk of obesity. The mind reels, does it not?

While scientists argue the merits of breastfeeding, here’s one conclusion everyone’s happy to agree upon: breastfeeding doesn’t cause sagging. Yet another study interviewed over 100 women who sought out breast lifts or augmentation. Turns out they couldn’t find a difference in the degree of saggage between the breastfeeders and the non-breastfeeders. The factors that actually affected the relative perkiness of the women’s chests were age, number of pregnancies, and whether or not the patient was a smoker. Smoking, it seems, breaks down a protein in the skin called elastin. As the skin breaks down, the boobs clatter to the floor. Did you need another reason not to smoke? There you go.

In conclusion: you can drink during pregnancy, maybe, or maybe not; you should still breastfeed, because researchers are nuts, probably; if your breasts are less than perky, blame the ravages of time, and not your baby’s appetite. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a lot today.

Related Content:

Because Mother Nature made bottles for a reason
What to suspect when you’re expecting
Hey, fat-obsessed America!

Published November 16, 2007. Last updated May 10, 2010.
Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

...

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments