It's your trusted lactation consultant and infant feeding specialist here, and today I want to talk about something that keeps coming up in my consultations: the age-old myth that dark beer improves breast milk production.
Ah, the internet! A treasure trove of information but also the home to many old wives' tales. One of the most enduring myths I've heard, especially from well-meaning family members, is that having a glass of dark beer can work wonders to boost milk supply. Sounds tempting, right? Let's uncork this myth and get down to the nitty-gritty.
The Origins of the Myth
First off, let's talk about where this myth might have originated. Yeasty, malted drinks, including some non-alcoholic beers, have been recommended for centuries to nursing mothers. The idea is that the barley in the beer stimulates prolactin, a hormone that helps produce milk. But, here's the thing: science doesn't back it up.
What Does the Research Say?
In fact, research tells us quite the opposite. Consuming alcohol, yes, even dark beer, can actually interfere with your body's ability to let down milk—that crucial process that helps you get milk from the ducts into your baby's tummy. Alcohol can also dehydrate you, which is the last thing you need when you're working hard to nourish a tiny human.
Studies have even shown that babies take in about 20% less milk when their mothers consume alcohol. It's not a significant decrease, but when you're in the early stages of establishing your milk supply, every drop counts.
How about Nutrients?
You might argue that dark beer contains some B vitamins and minerals. True, but there are many other ways to get those nutrients that don't come with the potential downsides of alcohol. Foods like lean meats, legumes, and whole grains can be great sources of B vitamins, and you can enjoy them without any second thoughts!
Alternatives to Improve Breast Milk Production
Instead of relying on old myths, focus on proven ways to improve your milk supply:
Frequent Feeding: The more often you breastfeed, the more signals your body gets to produce milk.
Proper Latch: Make sure your baby has a good latch; this ensures they can efficiently remove milk from your breast, stimulating more production.
Hydration: Water is your new best friend! Staying hydrated is crucial for milk production.
Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, protein, and yes, the occasional sweet treat, is beneficial for you and your baby.
So, there you have it. While the idea of sipping dark beer might seem appealing, especially when you're running on two hours of sleep, the science just doesn't support it as a method for boosting your milk supply. So let's stick to what works and keep those myths where they belong—in the past.
Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or need personalized advice. You're doing great, and you've got this!
About the author: Kellie Green is a certified and licensed Speech Pathologist, as well as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), who specializes in infant feeding. She operates a private practice in Columbus, OH, Green Living & Wellness.
This blog is meant for informational purposes and should not be taken as medical guidance.