When to Pump and Dump Breastmilk During Breastfeeding

When to Pump and Dump During Breastfeeding

Pumping is common among most breastfeeding mothers as it is used for a number of reasons including pressure relief from swollen breasts to even increase the milk supply. While many pump to store milk to feed their child another time, pump and dump breastfeeding is a method used when mothers shouldn’t be giving the milk from their breasts on that occasion. If you have been out drinking at a party and have second thoughts about feeding your baby, then this article will tell you all you need to know about pump and dump.

What Is ‘Pumping and Dumping’ Breastmilk?

Pumping and dumping breastmilk is exactly as it sounds; it means to express breast milk and to throw it away instead of giving it to your child. Breastmilk can transfer many of the things you consume including drugs, caffeine, and alcohol. After consuming alcohol or any other drugs, it takes a while for the substances to metabolize and leave your system. This means they would take a couple of hours to leave the bloodstream and even your breast milk. After you have consumed any of the substances that can cause harm to your baby, you can pump and dump your breastmilk to relieve the stress of engorged breasts for a few hours until you are ready to feed your baby again.

Under What Circumstances Can You Pump and Dump?

If you are wondering when should you pump and dump, then here are the circumstances right for the procedure:

1. When consuming alcohol

An occasional drink or two is safe when you are breastfeeding as not too much alcohol passes through your milk. However, what determines if it is necessary to pump and dump every time after drinking alcohol depends on how much you consume. As long as your blood alcohol level remains within the legal drinking limit, it is relatively safe. It takes about two to three hours for the alcohol you’ve had, to leave your system. Therefore, if your breasts become full and uncomfortable within that time you can just pump and dump.

2. Doing recreational drugs

When it comes to recreational drugs, no amount is safe or recommended during pregnancy. That includes any of the party drugs and even cannabis. These substances easily travel through the breastmilk and can be dangerous or even life-threatening to the baby. If you take some drugs in a party, wait till it has completely left your system by pumping and dumping. If you have a habit of doing drugs, stop breastfeeding completely and consult your doctor.

3. Expressing in Unsanitary Areas

If you are in any place that is unsanitary and have to express your breastmilk because it is causing painful engorgement, it is best to dump that milk. Milk that is collected in any place such as a restroom, or an unclean closed room, can contain harmful pathogens. Always express breastmilk in a clean area.

4. Undergoing a Thyroid scan

If you are undergoing a thyroid scan for hyperthyroidism that uses radioactive iodine then it is recommended not to breastfeed your baby. Talk to your doctor about how long you will have to wait before you can breastfeed again. Pump and dump this milk because the radioactive substances in it could be very dangerous for the baby.

5. Taking certain medications

Many modern medications are compatible with breastfeeding. If you have to take any for a while then it is better to temporarily wean your baby and continue later once it is out of your body. If your medication is one-time, then you will have to pump and dump.

6. Improper storage of milk

Breastmilk has a relatively short shelf life when it is kept out at room temperature. Without refrigeration, it can spoil in 4-8 hours of time even inside an air-tight container. If you must express milk for your baby then make sure there is a place for you to safely freeze it. If not, pump and dump the milk.

7. Eating questionable foods

Babies develop allergies quite easily to new foods and one of the ways in which they can have severe allergic reactions is when they are exposed to foods through the breastmilk. If you notice that your baby develops severe allergies to certain foods you love eating then discuss with your doctor about how long do you have to pump and dump before starting feeding again. Caffeine is also a substance that can cause trouble if you are not careful. If you have had an excess of it then it’s best to pump and dump.

Some Myths Related to Pumping and Dumping

Myths about Pumping and Dumping

Here are some common myths associated with pump and dump:

1. Myth: After consuming alcohol, the breastmilk will be clean once the contaminated milk is pumped out.


It depends on the alcohol level in the blood. Since the amount of alcohol that enters breastmilk is quite small, it is okay for mothers to breastfeed their child if they are below the legal limit to drink and drive. The legally intoxicated limit of blood alcohol is 0.08 percent higher. It should also be understood that alcohol takes a few hours to leave the body completely, so pumping and dumping soon after drinking will make little difference.

2. Myth: Drinking water expedites the alcohol leaving the system


Alcohol takes the same time to pass through the breastmilk as it does through the bloodstream. Therefore the only thing that you can do is wait for it to leave. It takes about two hours to start leaving the system.

3. Myth: Alcohol can be separated from the breastmilk


There is no way to remove or separate alcohol from your pumped breastmilk. If you are bothered about contaminated milk, then pump the breastmilk before having the alcohol to feed your baby.

4. Myth: Alcohol increases milk supply


In reality, alcohol interferes with your milk ejection reflex and leads to decreased production of milk. Therefore consumption of any alcoholic beverage doesn’t lead to increased milk production.

5. Myth: I should discard all my milk if I’m on medication


Most medications are compatible with breastfeeding except for the few that your doctor tells you to avoid. If you are unsure about the medication, you can pump and freeze your milk until you are able to establish that the medication is compatible with breastfeeding.

Pumping and dumping is a technique many breastfeeding mothers use when they feel that their breastmilk is not safe enough for the baby at the moment. There will also be instances when you have to pump and dump just to relieve painful engorgements.

Also Read:

Tips for Pumping Breast Milk at Workplace
Simple Guide on Breast Pumps for New Moms
How to Pump and Store Breast Milk

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