You’ve abstained from alcohol for 9 months, and now you’re wondering whether it’s OK to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day. However, you’re breastfeeding. You’ll do everything to keep your newest addition safe and healthy, so you don’t want to risk any harm.

The good news is that as long as you keep a few things in mind, drinking wine after your baby has made their grand entrance into the world — even if you’re breastfeeding — is completely fine. Here’s what you need to know.

Cheers! Salud! Cin cin! Enjoy your wine, as it’s safe to drink it in moderation if you’re breastfeeding.

But what counts as “moderation”? The short answer: One drink a day is OK. That said, here’s what else you need to know before you raise your glass.

Alcohol does pass into your breast milk in much the same way that it passes into your bloodstream, and what’s in your blood is in your milk.

Since it takes your body 1 to 3 hours to metabolize (read: use up) the alcohol in your blood, best practice is to breastfeed your baby before your drink and then wait at least 2 hours before you snuggle up and breastfeed again.

What if you’ve whet your appetite and you fancy another drink — or two? Keep in mind that the more your drink, the longer the alcohol will be present in your blood and milk.

Let’s do the math. Alcohol from a single drink stays in your breast milk for about 2 to 3 hours; alcohol from 2 drinks hangs around for about 4 to 5 hours; alcohol from 3 drinks is present for about 6 to 8 hours. After that, you may not be counting clearly.

So again, stick to one drink, at least 2 hours before breastfeeding, and you and baby will be fine.

That depends on what you’re downing. For wine, a drink is about 5 fluid ounces.

If you opt for a standard run-of-the-mill beer (at about 5 percent alcohol by volume), you can have 12 fluid ounces. With spirits like vodka, you’re down to just 1.5 fluid ounces. All of these drinks contain 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.

Still, check your drink before you down it: 12 fluid ounces of 9 percent beer contains almost double the amount of pure alcohol as a standard 5 percent beer.

Yes, it does. The older your baby is, the more quickly they’ll metabolize any alcohol present in your breast milk. Keep in mind that newborns metabolize alcohol at about half the rate of adults.

The amount of alcohol taken in by a nursing infant through breast milk is estimated to be 5 to 6 percent of the weight-adjusted maternal dose. So while you’ve got the go-ahead for an occasional drink, you may want to hold your horses on drinking more.

Here’s what research says about drinking more and having alcohol pass into your milk:

  • Five drinks or more will impair your trusty letdown reflex. That’s because alcohol inhibits the release of oxytocin, and your letdown reflex relies on this hormone to work well. That means there may be less milk available for your baby until the level of alcohol in your blood decreases. Nursing after 1 or 2 drinks can decrease your baby’s milk intake by 20 to 23 percent.
  • Alcohol may make your baby irritable and lead to short, quick naps instead of the usual sleep patterns. One study showed that babies slept about 25 percent less after taking in breast milk that contained alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking may mean that your baby is sedated, retains fluid, and has hormonal imbalances.
  • Looking into the future, heavy drinking may affect your child’s grades in school. In particular, a 2018 study found that infants who’d been exposed to larger amounts of alcohol showed reduced abstract reasoning ability at 6 to 7 years of age.

Nope! The amount of alcohol in your milk mirrors the amount of alcohol in your blood. So pumping and dumping won’t help you here. Your amazing body works in tandem: As the level of alcohol in your blood decreases, the level of alcohol in your milk drops too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lets you have one drink per day, especially if you wait 2 hours after that drink. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) nods in full agreement with the CDC.

Nevertheless, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a different take, quoting a 2018 study that found that maternal alcohol consumption while breastfeeding harmed child development. Although, the same study pointed out that there could be environmental and genetic explanations for this observation, and the AAP recommends further research.

A matter of size

Keep in mind that you should limit your alcohol intake based on your weight. People with less weight will need more time to metabolize alcohol.

The truth about beer

Does beer increase your milk supply? It depends. While the barley used to make beer contains a polysaccharide that increases prolactin and therefore milk production, alcohol decreases milk production. So drink smart and opt for nonalcoholic beer if you want to indulge in more than one.

Beer can flavor your milk, so steer clear of beer if your baby seems reluctant to nurse after a glass.

Slower reaction time

Alcohol will slow your reaction time and may impinge on your ability to take good care of your baby.

An occasional drink doesn’t carry the same risk as heavy drinking. So cheers — enjoy your occasional glass of wine and relax. You’re doing a great job.