Naturally palm wine is a low-alcoholic drink and its alcoholic content is as little as three per cent. But fermented palm wine has the potential to breed as high 12 per cent alcoholic content.

When palm wine is consumed by a nursing mum, it passes into the breast milk.

It is on record that there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding.

Mothers should avoid alcohol in the first month of childbirth till breastfeeding is well established lest it impedes the milk flow.

It takes about two hours for the average woman to clear a unit of alcohol from her system. Therefore, it takes four hours to clear two units of alcohol and so on, as the case may be.

Effect of alcoholic drinks on nursing mothers

Using alcohol may make a nursing mum to fall into a deep sleep, which can be dangerous to the baby.

Mums who are going to drink alcoholic beverages are strongly advised not to put their babies in their cots rather than lying next to them on the bed.

They may not wake up for the baby’s next feed, if the baby becomes distressed. They are to make ‘safety plans’ by allowing a responsible adult to take care of the baby.

Palm wine is used by some mums as post natal beverage. This is dangerous to health because the level of alcohol in breast milk remains close to the one in the mother’s bloodstream.

Alcohol will be at the highest level between 30 and 60 minutes after consumption or 90 minutes if drinking with a meal.

It takes two hours for a unit of alcohol (a small glass of wine, or half a pint of beer) to leave a mother’s blood.

Effect of alcoholic beverages on breastfeeding infants

While large amounts of alcohol in breast milk can have a sedative effect on babies, it is more likely to make them agitated and disrupt their sleep patterns.

When a nursing mother takes it, it gets into the breast milk and the baby sleeps and nobody is suckling anything. Soon, the mother starts complaining that she is not lactating enough.

Alcohol inhibits a mother’s let-down (the release of milk to the nipple). Studies have shown that babies take around 20 per cent less milk if there’s alcohol present. So, they will need to feed more often.

Some infants have been known to go on ‘nursing strike’, probably because of the altered taste of alcohol in the milk.

In conclusion, drinking palm wine by breastfeeding mums is counterproductive because it is proved scientifically that palm wine does not make the breast flow. It reduces the flow, contrary to perceived increase by traditions.

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Presh Olives is a creative writer, a poet,
a microbiologist and a happy lady.
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