Beyoncé Backlash: Is Drinking While Breast-Feeding OK?

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Can Beyoncé ever catch a break?

The singer and mom to 2-month-old twins Sir and Rumi Carter posted photos to her Instagram account last weekend that showed her and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, sipping on what looks like wine or liquor.

The photos prompted cries of outrage that Beyoncé might be drinking alcohol while breast-feeding. (It's not clear if the singer is currently breast-feeding the twins; she told People magazine after giving birth to her first child, Blue Ivy, that she breast-fed for 10 weeks.) [Beyoncé Expecting 2: Here Are 5 Fun Facts About Twins]

But is drinking alcohol while breast-feeding dangerous for the baby?

It's true that alcohol can be found in a woman's breast milk after drinking, according to theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Because of this, the AAP advises women to avoid habitual alcohol consumption when breast-feeding. 

But an occasional drink is OK, especially if a woman has the drink after she's just nursed or pumped, the AAP says. Women should wait at least 2 hours per alcoholic drink before breast-feeding or pumping milk; this way, the body has as much time as possible to rid itself of the alcohol, the AAP says. One drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce (350 milliliters) beer, a 4-ounce (120 mL) glass of wine or 1 ounce (30 mL) of hard liquor.

La Leche League International (LLLI), a nonprofit breast-feeding advocacy group, agrees that an occasional drink is OK for a breast-feeding mom. "When the breast-feeding mother drinks occasionally or limits her consumption to one drink or less per day, the amount of alcohol her baby receives has not been proven to be harmful," LLLI says.

The amount of alcohol found in breast milk peaks about 30 to 60 minutes after the mother drinks alcohol, and about 60 to 90 minutes after she drinks if the woman has a drink with food, LLLI says. For a woman who weighs 120 lbs. (54 kilograms), it would take from 2 to 3 hours for her body to eliminate the alcohol completely from a serving of beer or wine, the group says, and a high-alcohol drink could take up to 13 hours to clear from the body.

The backlash aimed at Beyoncé isn't unique to celebrities: More than 60 percent of mothers of young children say that they've been criticized for their parenting decisions, according to a survey from the University of Michigan from June. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.