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Pump and Dump

There is often some confusion and controversy around “pump and dump” and when, or even if, it is appropriate.

Pump and Dump

What does pump and dump mean?

Pump and dump means that you are pumping your breast milk, and instead of saving it to give to your baby at a later time, you throw it away, usually by dumping it down the drain. This is often hard for women to do because you work hard for your breast milk and you don’t want to throw away your hard work.

I don’t need to pump and dump after drinking alcohol?

The thought that you need to pump and dump after drinking alcohol is a myth. Alcohol leaves your breastmilk just as it leaves your bloodstream. This means that if you have a glass of wine after you feed your baby, by the next feeding the alcohol is out of your breastmilk. Pumping and dumping just wastes perfectly fine milk.

Now, I am not saying you can get drunk and still breastfeed, but having one glass of wine will not hurt. If you still worry about it, there are a couple of things you can do. The easiest, and cheapest thing you can do is to mix the breastmilk you pump after having a drink with breastmilk that you pumped when you didn’t have any alcohol. This will dilute any potential alcohol in your breastmilk, though there shouldn’t be any if you are not feeling any affects from the alcohol. You can also purchase test strips that will test for alcohol in your breastmilk.

Here is an example, say you feed your baby at 6 PM and start drinking after. Say you had a date night with hubby and had a babysitter for the evening and you and hubby stop drinking around 10 PM and you are drunk. You decide to pump and dump to get rid of milk with alcohol in it around this time. As soon as you stop pumping, your body is already making more milk to prepare for the next feeding. This new milk could have alcohol in it right then, but at 1 AM you wake up and you feel fine. By this time, the alcohol has left your system, including your breastmilk. If you would have just waited, you wouldn’t have had to dump your breastmilk. Obviously, if you feel drunk, or even buzzed, you shouldn’t breastfeed your baby, you should wait and feed your some previously pump breastmilk.

When should I pump and dump?

Believe it or not, it is not always necessary to pump and dump when most people think you need to, but there are a few times when you should pump and dump.

  • If you are away from your baby for one or more feedings and you don’t have a way to store you pumped milk. Pumped breastmilk is good for up to 10 hours at room temperature, so this is rarely necessary, but if you are traveling this may apply to you.
  • If you need to pump but you have medications or alcohol in your system. I know I said there is no reason to pump and dump if you are drinking, but sometimes you are uncomfortable and just need to pump. In this case, you would need to pump and dump. Also, if you were given medications and your doctor advises that you pump and dump you should for the time period your doctor suggests. In most cases you are not pumping to get rid of bad milk, but just pumping to maintain your supply while the medication or alcohol leaves your system.

Did you ever pump and dump? Do you think you will still pump and dump?

Thanks for reading, Cassie

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