In the recent news article "Alcohol Consumption Disrupts Breastfeeding Hormones," some doctors studied alcohol and breastfeeds, which is fine. However, they make the implication that drinking alcohol (they used alcohol in orange juice, a screwdriver IIRC) has been recommended for increasing nursing performance.
From the article:
|For centuries, breastfeeding women have been advised to drink alcohol as an aid to milk production and optimal lactation. Recent surveys indicate that 25% of women report being encouraged by their health professionals to drink alcohol while breastfeeding.
While I do recall that alcohol has been mentioned as aiding in relaxing the mother, I've always seen the recommendation mainly encouraging drinking beer (particularly real, dark, beer) for the hops, which is a galactogogue. The alcohol is a peripheral issue, especially since we're only talking about drinking an occasional beer.
I want to be clear that this study didn't evaluate the effectiveness of a good quality beer for aiding in milk production and nursing, but looked only at alcohol. In effect, it's saying that you shouldn't be drinking shots or mixed drinks if you want to nurse.
Taking a closer look at the study shows that oxytocin levels decreased (making the actual nursing go slower), but prolactin levels went up (stimulating milk production), so this is actually a mixed result rather than the clearly negative result the article implies.
The take home message, then, may be that it's not a good idea to drink alcohol before nursing (since it can slow down milk release), but an occasional (1/day at most) good-quality beer (we're talking microbreweries and imports here with real hops, not american beers that are made from rice and wheat and shipped cross-country as "beer concentrate") may be beneficial for increasing milk production.