Cooking With Wine and Breastfeeding

If wine was a staple in your prepregnancy kitchen, you're probably itching to uncork a bottle during those first few exhausting months of new motherhood. And while you might be hesitant to indulge in a glass if you're breast-feeding, cooking with wine can be perfectly safe if you're careful with your alcohol consumption.

A woman is breastfeeding her baby. (Image: shironosov/iStock/Getty Images)

Cooking With Wine

The idea that cooking wine burns off all the alcohol is a common misconception. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website explains that the amount of alcohol remaining in the final dish heavily depends on the cooking method and time spent at high temperatures. If you're adding wine to a dish that simmers for several hours before serving, only a small amount of alcohol will remain. But if you're adding wine to a skillet to make sauce, the few minutes spent on the stovetop won't be very effective at burning off the alcohol. And for a flambé dish, the alcohol content can be as high as 75 percent of its original content.

Alcohol and Breast-Feeding

There's no steadfast rule for drinking wine and breast-feeding. The BabyCenter website explains that alcohol passes into breast milk, which then passes to your baby during breast-feeding. According to the website, research suggests that even a small amount of alcohol can impact a baby's ability to eat and sleep. That said, the La Leche League International website acknowledges that alcohol consumption can still be safety compatible with breast-feeding if the mother only occasionally drinks and limits her consumption to less than one drink per day. Your physician can help you determine whether you can safely add wine back into your post-pregnancy diet.

Timing Considerations

The La Leche League International explains that alcohol reaches its peak concentration in breast milk roughly 60 to 90 minutes after consumption with food. The amount of time it takes for alcohol to leave the body varies from one person to the next -- although it usually takes a few hours. The BabyCenter website recommends waiting at least two hours to breast-feed after consuming alcohol.

Wine Alternatives

If you've decided to forgo the wine, plenty of safe and succulent options exist. Consider the role your wine would play in the dish -- determine whether it's meant to add acidity or sweetness, provide depth or moisture, or used to deglaze a pan or tenderize a tough piece of meat. Chicken, beef or vegetable stock serve as a great substitute for either red or white wine. Grape or cranberry juice can add depth and sweetness in place of red wine, while apple or white grape juice can stand in for white wine. To add acidity or deglaze a pan, use a splash of red or white wine vinegar along with the fruit juice or stock.

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