When to pump and dump your breast milk

By | June 23, 2012

Pump and dump means you first express your breast milk and then dispose of it by dumping it down the drain. You might need to do this if on special medication or have consumed alcohol.

Pumping while on medication

If you get sick and need medication your doctor might advise you to stop breast feeding while taking it. In the older days doctors were overcautious or had a lack of information so they generally advised mothers to stop breastfeeding or expressing. Nowadays generally all doctors value the benefits of breast milk and aren’t too quick to advise mothers to take medications which negatively impacts their milk supply.

In case your doctor does give you medication with which you are not to breastfeed or express, ask if there is an alternate medicine that can be safe for your baby. It’s also recommended to check with a lactation consultant for the impact of the medication on the breast milk and if at all possible to take your dose after pumping. That way you don’t have to dump all the pumped milk, and would be able to use for example the morning pump before your medication and your evening pump before your next dose. That of course depends on your doctor/lactation consultant and the impact of the medication on your milk, so do check with them.

Now in case you don’t have a choice and do need to take a medication where you are advised not to breastfeed, then you should pump and dump your milk. Continuing to pump ensures that you keep up your supply. Your supply will probably drop a bit while you’re sick or on medication but do not worry. Just continue pumping like you would before and your supply will
recover.

Pumping and alcohol consumption

Apart from taking medication the other time to pump and dump is when you have been drinking alcohol. The general rule most mothers go by is that if you don’t feel tipsy anymore then it’s generally safe to feed your baby. Alcohol goes in and out of your milk so if you do feel ok then your body has eliminated the alcohol and it should be fine for your baby. Don’t think that drinking more water will reduce the alcohol in your milk. The only “technique” is time. Depending on how much alcohol you consume you need a certain amount of time for your body to eliminate the alcohol.

If you are in doubt then it’s ok to dump. Remember that alcohol in pumped milk is permanent – i.e. it’s not going to dissolve or evaporate. It’s always painful to dump your milk but it’s better to give your baby formula than milk that contains alcohol.

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