With World Breastfeeding Week recently celebrated and the focus placed on the importance of breastfeeding to improve the health of babies, it is an ideal time to consider the risks of alcohol for pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers – and the delicious alternative beverage options that are now available in the market.
Today, one of the major risks to a pregnant or breastfeeding woman is alcohol consumption. While many women do limit their intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding, they may not be doing enough.
The health risks associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy, breastfeeding and even conception mean that there are now an increasing variety of alcohol-free beverages for moms and moms-to-be in order to have safer (and healthier) choices. In fact, it turns out that 0.0% non-alcoholic malt beverages can even boost breastmilk supply by stimulating prolactin levels. It also has some other surprising – and quite remarkable – health benefits…
Without going into the technical details, the barley malt contains lactogenic beta-glucan. This not only makes it highly nutritious, but when enjoyed 90 minutes prior to breastfeeding, can see an increase in the mom’s milk production. This makes sense, considering that barley is a starchy food that contains complex carbohydrates. The soluble fibre (essentially slowing glucose absorption) contained in the barley can lower cholesterol and even reduce the risk of heart disease. Malt drinks are well known to be both wholesome and highly nutritious, while providing some protein, sugar, essential minerals and levels of vitamins A and B vitamins. It also provides the all-important folic acid that is beneficial during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The Risks of Alcohol During Pregnancy
Here’s how it works, in a nutshell. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. This can result in miscarriages, stillbirth, or a range of disabilities that are classified under the term foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Sadly, South Africa has the highest prevalence of these disorders than anywhere else in the world with 111.1 instances per 1 000 children (the global average is 7.7).
The Consumption of Alcohol During Breastfeeding & Alternative Options
Conventional wisdom used to state that drinking a beer before nursing could help with the milk ejection reflex. However, more recent studies have shown that infants who are fed milk by mothers who have consumed alcohol tend to take in less milk than those who did not.
Startlingly, consuming alcohol while breastfeeding can lead to a multitude of ill effects: disturbed sleep cycles, extreme drowsiness, weakness, decreased growth in the infant, the possibility of decreased milk-ejection reflex and milk quality in the mother, not to mention the impairment of a mother’s natural reflexes that are needed in taking proper care of her child!
On the other hand, consuming a non-alcoholic beverage or two means that you get all the benefits without any of the disadvantages – whether pregnant or breastfeeding. Moreover, modern 0.0% non-alcoholic beverage now has the same taste, while being devoid of the negative health side-effects associated with alcohol. Additional benefits include the hangover-free lifestyle and reduced calorie consumption. A win for South African mothers, and mothers all around the world!
To celebrate women as everyday heroes, Bavaria threw a surprise baby shower for Itumeleng Nyathi, a Zimbabwean woman who left her country to pursue a brighter future in South Africa. In doing so, she had to walk away from her family and existing support systems. While in South Africa, Itumeleng met her husband Larry and they are now expecting their first child together, a baby girl arriving in September.
Itumeleng received a bumper supply of gifts at the event, courtesy of Bavaria and a Johannesburg Mom’s Group – who banded together to provide her with a stroller, car seat, cot, feeding chair, baby bath, bouncer, booster seat, and more. An extra special surprise awaited Itumeleng as she was reunited with her mother, whom she hadn’t seen in several years.
This heart-warming story has been turned into a special, shareable video: Please click here to watch
By Oliver Wills, Marketing Manager at Bavaria