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By Vermel Thomas

Non-alcoholic beer is safe for lactating mothers

Beer as a prescription

In 2011, Mariah Carey was investigated by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services for drinking beer after giving birth to her twins. All charges were soon dropped because Cedars Sinai hospital staff reported that they told her to drink beer for better lactation.

Mariah is not the first nursing mother who has been given a prescription to drink beer for better breastfeeding milk for her baby. Nursing moms are sometimes advised by physicians to include a small amount of stout beer to help stimulate milk production.1

Lactation benefits from beer

Beer drinking by nursing mothers dates back more than 150 years. Beer was made differently in years gone by than it is today. Beer had more grains and herbs, which were thought to increase a mother's milk. The alcohol content was much lower than it is today. Therefore, drinking beer to help lactation may have had some legitimacy.

The barley used to make beer contains a polysaccharide that stimulates prolactin, which helps nursing moms to produce more milk. However, let us be clear that we are talking about non-alcoholic beer. The alcohol in regular beer is a teratogen, which is toxic to a developing baby and can interfere with the development of their brain, causing brain damage and other birth defects.

Why non-alcoholic beer helps mom and baby

Nursing mothers are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics not to drink non-alcoholic beer until two hours after breastfeeding. This is because the small alcohol amount found in non-alcoholic beer will clear from the breast milk very quickly, just as it dissolves easily from their bloodstream. This means that nursing mothers will not need to pump or dump their milk.

It is the barley and not the alcohol which is the key beer ingredient that helps in the production of added milk in nursing. Non-alcoholic beer provides lactating benefits while eliminating the dangers. Research continues about how helpful non-alcoholic beer compounds are in increasing milk production. Non-alcoholic beer offers the advantage of keeping alcohol out of a baby's system.

Non-alcoholic beer products contain IPAs (India pale ales) that have proven to be good for a baby's digestive system. There is something in the hops oil that has been used for years in the Chinese and Native American cultures for stimulating the secretions of the stomach and for other beneficial treatments.

Mom, try a beer float

Nursing moms, and/or family members who may give new moms non-alcohol beer, should always read labels closely, because some beers labeled non-alcoholic may contain a small amount of alcohol.

How much non-alcoholic beer is enough for nursing moms? Just a small bottle, or half a bottle. Why not make a beer float? Take one scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream and pour half a bottle of chilled, dark, non-alcoholic beer over it. Relax and enjoy this stout ice cream float. Always follow your doctor's orders, which may include a small amount of beer.

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