As a new mom, I have so many questions. Yeah, some of them are questions about how much breastmilk and sleep the baby should be getting, how to put a fitted sheet on the crib mattress without throwing my back out, and how to tell the difference between Seabass’ cries. Let’s call those “safe questions.”
But then there is a bevy of squirrely questions that I’m kind of afraid to ask. And that’s where Controversy Wednesdays come in. Controversy Wednesdays are about getting your opinion on the sorts of questions for which we all want answers but wouldn’t be caught dead asking. (And by that token, if you have a suggestion for a topic, please feel free to share it with me at email@example.com.) Just remember, I am not an expert on anything at all. I’m just a mother trying to figure out where she stands. In other words, if you somehow wind up in jail because of something you read on this blog, I will not be held responsible, capisce?
This week’s topic: DRINKING ALCOHOL. That’s right, I’m not messing around, people.
A number of years ago, Jake and I were wine tasting somewhere near our home in San Luis Obispo and I realized that I really loved wine. As in, I loved it more than the average person. Thus began a career change that would take me through sommelier certification, vineyards and wineries around the world, and would ultimately return me to San Luis Obispo as a wine and food writer for several magazines and marketing firms. (Interestingly, along the way I discovered that my true passion is actually beer. But that’s another blog altogether, now isn’t it?) Anyway, the point is this: I enjoy alcohol on a fundamental level.
But when we started trying for a wee Seabass, I gave it up after hearing that alcohol can inhibit conception. And it wasn’t difficult at all. Sure, I missed the occasional glass of something spectacular, but I wanted a child so much more than that. And then we conceived and there were nine months of pregnant non-drinking. In the meantime, I was still writing tasting notes and having to sniff my way through several bottles just to pay the bills. I believed that I’d be able to return to my moderate drinking habits as soon as Seabass was hatched.
So when the baby was born and my life suddenly consisted of little more than nursing, sleeping, and listening to screaming, there was no more welcome treat than a turkey sandwich and a cold, frothy mug of beer trickling down the hatch. That is, until…
…until I told my OB. Whoa, Nelly! Doc put the brakes on my momentary mini-vacations from new parenthood by sharing that drinking – even moderately – while nursing is considered majorly verboten by several in the medical community. These good folks assert that no matter how much a breastfeeding mother drinks, at least some of the alcohol will pass to baby and affect his or her nursing and sleeping, kill brain cells and otherwise guarantee that the child will grow up to be a serial killer. Okay, I thought. Case closed.
But then both a rogue lactation consultant and delivery nurse informed me that the hops in my delicious Dogfish Head 90-minute India Pale Ale would increase breastmilk production, and another anonymous but highly reputable source revealed that one drink would have no effect on Seabass if I waited a couple hours to nurse him. Okay, I thought. Case re-opened?
Upon hearing my confusion over the whole drinking-whil-nursing conundrum, a friend told me about Milkscreen Breastmilk Alcohol Detection Strips. To use these little strips, you place a bit of breastmilk on the white tip after you’ve had a drink to see if you’re safe to nurse baby. If the strip turns brown within two minutes, you are not safe to nurse, but if it stays white, you are good to go. I gave it a whirl after one beer and three hours had passed, fully expecting the strip to remain white as a spring daisy so that I could go nurse the wee Seabass in perfect safety.
But it didn’t stay white. In fact, it turned black. Yikes. Is that CPS I hear knocking at the front door?
You see, every woman’s metabolism is different. Apparently mine is quite slow, because it took nearly six whole hours to get a strip to come up white after my ONE BEER. So I made the decision then and there primarily to abstain from drinking alcohol until Seabass is weaned. The fact that I shouldn’t drink while on anti-depressants only served to reinforce that decision.
So now it’s your turn. What do you think? Have you tried Milkscreen’s products? What does your OB say? More importantly, are you drinking while nursing?