MilkScreen tries to help moms who drink and breastfeed

10/02/2007 at 09:21 PM ET

by Fashion/Gear contributor Bronwyn

MilkscreenBreastfeeding moms who enjoy an occasional drink are oftenworried about passing the alcohol in their milk. MilkScreen aims to take the worry away. The product ismanufactured by UpSpring, a companystarted by actor Dennis Quaid’s wife and three other mothers to tell momswhen their milk has too much alcohol. Celebs like Marcia Cross, Naomi Watts,Tori Spelling, Keri Russell, Jill Fink and Patrick Dempsey have all turnedto UpSpring products to ensure their children’s safety.

MilkScreen is 99% accurate and very easy to use. You simply saturate thereactive pad with breastmilk, wait two minutes and then read the results. Ifthe pad changes color it indicates a high level of alcohol, if there is nochange, the breastmilk is safe.

There are a couple of things to consider in general when drinking andbreastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs andChemicals and Human Milk has deemed alcohol consumption (in smallquantities) as compatible with breastfeeding. Alcohol leaves the body asit’s metabolized so the alcohol will only remain in the milk as long as it’sin the body, therefore the occasional alcoholic beverage would not be aproblem. An occasional drink is classified as one glass of wine, one beer orone mixed drink one or two times a week. Consuming one or more alcoholicbeverages everyday is not recommended as it can cause slow weight gain andinhibit milk let down.

It’s been said for some time that mothers who partake in an alcoholicbeverage should pump and dump. This isn’t necessary, as dumping the milkdoesn’t remove the alcohol that’s in your system. The alcohol in yourbreastmilk is directly related to the alcohol in your blood stream not tothe amount of fluids in your body.

Most pediatricians agree that a nursing mom should wait at least 2 hoursafter drinking an alcoholic beverage, citing that alcohol in the bloodstreamusually peaks 30-90 minutes after it was consumed. When in doubt, a productlike MilkScreen can come in handy, but following the general guidelinesshould work just fine.

For more information about breastfeeding and alcohol consumption,

Danielle adds: I learned of this product last year at the ABC Kids Expo.  I think it’s ridiculous. It feeds on a new mom’s fear.  The only time you probably shouldn’t nurse is when you are drunk and then using MilkScreen is the last thing you’re thinking about. And obviously drunkenness is not compatible with good parenting, in general.  I can tell you anecdotally that I have on occasion drank a few glasses of wine over the course of an evening and gotten a little tipsy (but not drunk) and noticed no difference in Anya- no sleepiness or drunkiness.

What do you think of this product?  Are you afraid to drink because you’re worried the alcohol will enter your breastmilk?

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Teagan on

“And obviously drunkenness is not compatible with good parenting, in general.”

Danielle, didn’t think you were usually one to make sweeping, judgemental generalisations.

Note from Danielle: I would really love for you to explain how drunkenness IS compatible with good parenting. Were either of your parents alcoholics? Because if they were, like mine, you would understand how one could make “sweeping judgemental generalisations” and that they’re not sweeping nor judgmental.

Campbell on

Oh for gosh sakes, why must people (nursing mothers) drink? Is it so important to “taste” an glass of wine, mug of beer, etc…. There is not one single positive arguement for drinking alcohol. Period. How do you like that for “one sweeping judgemental generalization”?

Liza on

I hated to pump and dump but I did it after my son got a bit older if I was worried about that sort of thing, but I would never buy something like that, IMO.


Danielle said “drunkenness” which obviously means alcoholism, or misuse of alcohol!! My dad was and still is a raging alcoholic and it was frightening as a child. It did affect his parenting!! Drunkenness does NOT mean having the occasional drink, or a night out.

Rose on

I agree with you 100% Danielle.
Um.. and Campbell, some people choose to drink alcohol responsibly because it is enjoyable.

gracie on

Campbell – to answer your question…yes it is really necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a glass of wine or beer, you can still be a good parent.

Tina on

Leave it to someone like Dennis Quaid’s new wife to come up with something like this. He is supposed to be a “recovered” alcoholic, but still drinks. In fact, I met Dennis and his wife at his charity event in June right after he announced they were expecting a boy and a girl. They both were drinking and smoking. Good thing a gestational carrier is giving birth to their twins.

Cordelia's Mommy on

You can always pump and dump if you are really that concerned. But, ask any La Leche League leader and they will tell you that you really have nothing to worry about. A glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a BBQ, or even a fancy martini (my new favorite is either a pomegranite or an espresso) if you are lucky enough to get a night out (ha!) will not harm you or the baby. And maybe everyone will sleep better! If in doubt over alcohol, food, or even prescription or over-the-counter meds, call your local La Leche League leader on the ‘warm’ line if there is no meeting right away. They will be able to answer all your questions and address your concerns, and for the medicine, they all have a copy of the Hale’s book to refer to, which will tell them what meds can and cannot be taken while breastfeeding. For those that don’t know their local LLL leader, go to the LLL international website and search for your local chapter, where you will have the meeting addresses and times, and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the leaders. No one needs this test, it is such a waste of money.

PSB on

I had an RN OB nurse/doula come to my house to teach us about labor and delivery and basic infant care. She also taught me the basics of breast-feeding. She told me that it was okay to nurse as long as I wasn’t drunk. She said “if you can drive, you can nurse” – meaning one drink is fine, but anything more than that may be too much, depending on how much I ate, the timing, my weight, etc. I used this rule of thumb and definitely breastfed my son a few times after having a glass of wine with dinner. I didn’t notice any change in his behavior at all during/after these times, so this rule seemed to work for us. I think common sense and moderation can take care of a lot of concerns.

I waited nine months to have a nice glass of wine with dinner, and since a medical professional said it was acceptable, I took that medical advice. I think people can get a little to vigilant about some things. Just don’t go crazy in either direction!

Mollie on

I agree with Danielle, this product is a little bit silly! I have asked both of my daughters’ pediatricians about this and they said it is fine to drink and nurse as long as I’m not drunk. And since my drinking is limited to a glass or two of wine a week, or perhaps ONE margarita for a special occasion, I don’t worry about it one bit.

Linda on

Just don’t drink or keep it limited to one or two glasses per week. Who needs a product like this?? Save your money.

Annabel on

My sense is that the recommendations on this really vary from country to country, and that in the U.S. most doctors take a very conservative line when it comes to alcohol and babies/pregnancy. Obviously we want to be as careful as possible about giving children the best start to life, but I can’t help wondering if restrictive advice like no drinks, ever, has more to do with avoiding malpractice suits than offering reasonable guidelines.

Misty on

I think Danielle is right. Even a few glasses over the course of an evening are fine. For anyone who is concerned, this is a good product. But not really necessary.

Jen on

Wow. If you are that concerned about an occasional drink and breastfeeding then just don’t drink at all. Yes, I do understand that people like the occasional drink here or there and are not big drinkers.

Then again, I’m not a big alcohol drinker so this gadget seems a little “off” to me.

gargoylegurl on

This product is a waste of money, in my opinion.

Responsible parents are going to use their best judgement regarding alcohol consumption around their child/children. I believe alcohol in moderation and breast feeding is just fine, that has been my experience. Regardless, I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to ever be drunk (I am not talking about tipsy, I mean falling down drunk) around a child.

Cheryl on

Hi all,

I went to a seminar by probably the top Canadian breastfeeding advocate, Dr. Jack Newman, who stated there was absolutely nothing wrong with having a drink while breastfeeding. He said that even if your blood was at the .08 level (not sure of the official intoxicated levels of all places), your breastmilk would only be .08 alcohol.

Dee Anne on

The product is just plain silly. Who is going to express enough milk to saturate a test pad?? Just dumb!!

If you are drunk, you cannot be a good parent, simple as that. 1 or 2 drinks does not fall under the category and certainly does not effect your ability to breastfeed.

I always trust what my lactation consultant tells me b/c that is who trains the doctors!! She always says that is totally safe to consume 1-2 drinks of alcohol while nursing. I have nursed 2 kids for 26 months and never have they acted any differant after I had a glass of wine.

charsmom on

Danielle, I 100% agree with you! After a long day of taking care of my two daughters, it is nice to have a glass of wine with dinner.

I think this product is stupid and would never buy it for myself or anyone else I know who is a breastfeeding mother.

ilovemybabyzoe on

“If you can drive, you can nurse. . .”
I find this comment VERY disturbing! One should never drink and drive, and for a “medical professional” to say something so asinine just astounds me!

DWS on

This product is ridiculous..I mean if you are worried about drinking too much and breastfeeding, then just pump and dump. But really, I personally don’t see how anyone can be a new mom and drink more than a couple of drinks and not pass out asleep! I don’t drink hardly at all since my daughter was born b/c it just makes me tired. But there isn’t anything wrong with the occasional drink here and there.

And I agree with Danielle, drunkedness and good parenting DO NOT go together. I mean how can you be a good parent when drunk, then hung over for a couple of days after?

Mary on

Wow,comming from a family of doctors, My dad, my sister n law, PA for a brother, MA for a sister, Pharmacist for a sister. They all had different opinions. Figure that all different generations, different schools, some with children some without! Having a glass a wine or a beer is fine. We should never drink in excess, nursing or not. We forget, or not informed that when we drink (yes some does go through the breast milk) it must also go through the baby’s digestive system (it’s gut).and it goes through a process of digestion before the effects of alchol. one glass or even two should be okay. In Europe some drink during pregnancy. (i never did). and they drink during nursing as well. But if the AAP were to put “drink in moderation” your moderation and my moderation and theirs might be completely different. so they will never say that. I applaud you danielle for being honest.

Kelly on

Here is an article published out of the national institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism:

“Peak alcohol levels both in the mother’ s blood and in the milk occur approximately one-half hour to an hour after drinking and decrease thereafter, although there are considerable individual differences in the timing of peak levels and in alcohol elimination rates in both milk and blood (Lawton 1985; Mennella and Beauchamp 1991) . Therefore, lactating women should not nurse for several hours after drinking until their blood alcohol levels have declined again.”

Amanda on

Yah, way off base there Teagan. Danielle is right. There’s nothing judgemental about saying drunkeness and good parenting don’t mix…that’s simply factual!

But on to the original question, yes I also think this product is rediculous! Glad I’m not the only one. I hate these kind of convenience products that really just take the common sense out of parenting! As if to say “go ahead and drink all you want, we’ll make sure you’re not too drunk to nurse your kid!”


Stef on

This kind of makes me laugh. I grew up in the generations of fathers who would give little sips of beer to their babies from their beer bottles. In fact, that’s how my dad found out my sister had cut a tooth cos it clinked on the bottle…LOL Not to mention my gramma said that doctors always told her to have a beer to help milk production before nursing.

Of course, I’m sure the paranoid parents of today would find that repulsive, but there was no alcoholism in my family, there was never more than a can or two of beer around the house (i.e. no large stashes of alcohol), and even in our 20s, my sister and I don’t have alcohol around our houses…I, at most, have a drink when out to eat once or twice a month. I think many people in the U.S. forget that they are descended from Europeans who, for countless generations, drank beer and/or wine from a young age on because water supplies were so contaminated.

Rebecca on

I’m surprised at the number of people talking about pumping and dumping, like it helps the alcohol get out of your system any faster… it doesn’t. The only use pumping and dumping would have is to keep your milk supply up if you’re away from baby and baby gets a bottle of either expressed breastmilk or formula.

The comment about “if you can drive, you can nurse” is better said as, “If you’re sober enough to drive, you’re sober enough to nurse.” Having one drink and then driving home is not something that warrants a DUI, especially if you drank a beer with dinner. If you have your wits about you to drive safely, then you’re safe to nurse your baby.

Principesa on

FYI: 0.08 is legally drunk in my state.

That being said, the product is a waste of money. If you are that concerned about alcohol in the breastmilk, pump and dump. Isn’t that was EBM is for?

Angela on

“If you can drive, you can nurse” is referring to the human body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Thus after a period of time passes after alcohol consumption it would be perfectly safe to drive or breastfeed.

Stef on

I did have a response to this, but it appears my comments keep getting censored, though I’ve not said anything scandalous or against the commenting policy.

amanda on

Talk about judgmental! Maybe for some this test is a waste of money, but I know for myself that I was a worrier as a first time Mom and it would have let me relax a bit. On one hand I knew for certain that one drink was okay, but like I said, I was a worrier and there was always this nagging feeling when I had a glass of wine. This test would have helped me confirm what I knew anyway and I wouldn’t have had to second guess. It’s easy to say that it’s a waste of money and get all bothered about it, but I think that if it helps a few nervous moms relax, there’s no harm there!

Colleen on

“If you can drive, you can nurse” is a good way to put it IMHO. If you are sober enough to drive, that means you had very few drinks, thus meaning nursing will be fine. The Dr. didn’t mean that if you managed to drive home wasted, you can nurse while you’re wasted.
Also, it is acceptable to have a drink or 2 and drive. Saying with absoluteness that you should never have a drink and drive is ridiculous. You’ve never had one beer at a BBQ and driven home?

Lauren on

“Also, it is acceptable to have a drink or 2 and drive. Saying with absoluteness that you should never have a drink and drive is ridiculous. You’ve never had one beer at a BBQ and driven home?”

Plenty of people use that exact logic when driving home. They never make it. Buzzed driving IS drunk driving, and the fact that people try to justify that is absolutely repulsive.

Not everyone on

Not everyone gets a buzz off of one beer.

HollyH on

Where I am from at least, one drink and driving home is perfectly acceptable by law. And I am sure that the law would not encourage “buzzed” driving.

sarah on

if you get a buzz off one beer you obviously can’t hold your booze!

i think this product is a total waste of time personally.

Carolyn on

I have chosen not to drink while breastfeeding because I am a first time mom and paranoid. If I thought this product worked, I would use it (I’ve read things about this sort of product not being accurate). What I wonder though is why some moms are so up in arms about it?Don’t like it, don’t buy it…just like anything.

I do have to disagree about the ‘if you can drive you can nurse’ concept though. Lots of people don’t have good judgement when it comes to drinking and driving so why would drinking and driving and nursing be any different?

TwinMom on

I think this product is just nuts and geared towards over-the-top paranoid moms.

Having a drink or two is not going to hurt your baby. And if you have a baby that you’re breastfeeding and get falling down drunk while you’re supposed to be caring for the child, then yes, you’re an idiot.

When I was about 3 months pregnant, I went to a wedding and toasted with a glass of wine at the reception. I drank one glass over the course of the evening and I don’t think I drank anything else for the rest of the pregnancy.

When my twins were newborns and I was having some trouble getting a good milk supply, my mom gave me a beer to drink. It worked like a charm. I was like a cow!!

My kids haven’t suffered any ill effects of being exposed to a minimal amount of alcohol. It’s all about moderation and if people don’t feel that they have the self control to draw the line, then they’re wise not to drink at all.

Heather on

Silly, waste of money. Save your pennies, go buy a nice bottle of chardonnay, and have a drink after baby goes to bed for the night – there’s nothing to worry about then!

Carolyn on

Wow, I’ve never seen a product elicit such vitriol. I have decided for myself that having a drink isn’t important enough to me to spend any time thinking about whether or not it would be doing anything to my daughter…I’m far too tired to think about it actually. When I’m done breastfeeding there will be a great big double amaretto sour with my name on it! 😉 If you can have a drink or two without worrying about it then power to you (and I’m jealous!).

My mom says she pities those of us having babies these days as we are subject to so much fear mongering…I tend to agree, even as I find myself sucked in by some of the fear…

Martha on

I have used this product and love it! Now I know I can have one glass of wine and relax with my husband hours before I feed the baby and put him to bed for the night. It puts my mind at ease. Pumping and dumping is such a waste, and now I know that I don’t have to. Milkscreen allows me to be safe, not sorry.

linda on

Why do you need an expensive product to put your mind at ease? One drink does not harm the baby, so now you can feel relaxed without wasting your money on this product.

This product preys on scared women imho.

Sarah on

This IS a ridiculous product. I guess Dennis Quaid wanted to fatten his bank account even more? Gosh what a dumb product. It’s pretty simple – if you’re drunk, don’t nurse. If you are a little buzzed, it’s perfectly safe to nurse. I nursed both my babies while buzzed once in awhile and they are both brilliant and funny, and I wouldn’t have done it if that little voice inside me told me not to, but apparently there are plenty of women who are not in touch with that voice and need to be told anything and everything is ok as a mother before doing it. Lighten up! Does your baby seem affected? Mine never did, and years later I can confirm that no damage was done. You know something’s a silly gimmick when its been created by a male actor to be used by nursing moms. ‘Nuff said.

Liz on

Sarah, perhaps you should read the post before actually commenting.

Dennis Quaid’s WIFE and three other MOTHERS created the product.

As a lactation consultant I feel a two-way pull regarding this product.
While it MAY prey on the “new mom fear”, the fact is that some people are GOING to have that fear regardless of how many seasoned moms, health professionals, lactation experts, etc tell them it’s okay to drink one beer or glass of wine and still nurse.

In my humble but sill-valid opinion, I would encourage moms to enjoy a single drink now and again if they so desire…and if they STILL experience this “am I a BAD mother?!” fear, however irrational, then consider that a drink now and then is simply not worth the hassle…OR- yes, use a product like this once or twice. Then you’ve seen tangible “proof” that the occasional drink of beer or wine does not hurt your baby and perhaps fear and doubt will no longer be an issue for you.

It’s definitely not in the realm of “absolutely necessary baby gear”, but for those moms who get SO stressed that everything from milk supply to nerves are effected when dealing with fear over whether or not the breastmilk is safe…I say, “why not?”

And however irrelevant, I feel it bears saying- even if Dennis Quaid HAD designed this product himself, I feel it would deserve no LESS endorsement! He is a major champion of breastfeeding and breastfeeding education. Every year he does a charity golf tourney in my hometown and every year, Any Baby Can and other infant-centered charities enjoy a nice donation, without which they could likely not function very well. With money that DQ helps raise, central Texas mothers (especially young moms) get private breastfeeding education classes, breast pumps, and tons of clothing, diapers, furniture, and other necessities they would not have (or would have much inferior versions of) without this help. Dennis Quaid also contributes to charities supporting ADOPTIVE BREASTFEEDING, which *very* few people/organizations elect to do.

While he’s here, he also invariably hears about families or children going through illness or other hard times, and without any cameras/recognition, he uses his own money to support housing repairs, medical equipment, educational needs, or whatever it is the family is currently in need of. Truly a class act of a guy and definitely NOT someone whose main concern is “fatten the bank account”.

Liza on

I think pumping and dumping is we they dont sit there with engorged breasts, and to LOWER milk supply, not to get alchohol out of the system………

Ellen on

This is not about Dennis Quaid, Liz. His wife was never involved untill earlier this year and it seems her involvement is restricted to promoting this product by using her husbands last name.

Yep, pumping and dumping is to empty full breasts, not to get rid of alcohol.

No need for this product whatsoever. I certainly never had the need for this when I was breastfeeding my kid.

amanda on

I agree with ‘Liz’. Some women can’t help worrying and so if this helps someone than what difference does it make? Why get so bothered and angry about it?
And all those women who say lighten up are just trying to sound like they are better than moms who worry. I say lighten up about moms who feel a bit anxious.
Some things have to be ‘geared toward those over-the-top paranoid moms’. Isn’t that why we’re over the top, and paranoid?

jamie on

Amanda I wouldn’t be too proud of being over the top or paranoid. It’s not a healthy way to live. You should talk to your doctor, maybe get counselling or go on an anti-anxiety med.

Sarah on

Liz, so it’s Dennis’ wife who created it, that still makes it a Hollywood product and another way for the rich to get richer. I don’t think any mothers should waste their money on these, unless you are one of the wealthy actresses listed who do use this product and think “why not?” But for the rest of us, better to use the money on any number of more pressing things in these difficult days. I’m happy to hear that Dennis Quaid supports breastfeeding. Thankfully, many men do, including my husband who is a vehement defender of breastfeeding in public, however, creating a product like this and trying to convince mothers it’s just another thing they should have if they really care, IS an attempt to make money. Call me cynical, but until it’s being handed out for free or at affordable prices, someone made it to make money, period.

Maria on

Since you guys brought up the name Dennis Quaid I’ll add this, I find it very ironic that he is supposed to be a recovered alcoholic. Unfortunately, he still drinks. I too live in Austin and worked at his charity event this year. I went to several of the after parties that he and his wife Kimberly attended. At each one they had a drink in one hand and a cig in the other.
I was already aware of Kimberly and her friends product Milkscreen. Sorry, but after watching her down a few one night the thought occured to me that if she had been able to carry their twins and was planning on breastfeeding, then she personally might would have benefited from her own product.

Renee on

I had no idea one product would cause so much anger! If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it.It’s that simple.If a mother wants to spend her own money to make herself feel better, then that’s her choice.I wonder why this product has gotten under people’s skin so much?

ellen on

By his own admission, in several magazine interviews in the nineties, he was indeed a recovered alcoholic. Not a good sign that you saw him drinking alcohol.

Camille on

“I wonder why this product has gotten under people’s skin so much”?

The fact that people drink and drive get under people’s skin or should. Now we are discussing drinking and breastfeeding your baby all because this product Milkscreen tells you it will be ok.
Maria pointed it out that Dennis Quaid is a “recovered” alcoholic who still drinks, I too find the irony in it that his wife is the promoter of a product that lets you drink so you have no qualms about breastfeeding your baby.
I think this is a needless product. Go with your Dr’s advise. If he/she says it is ok to have a glass of wine, then do so and save your money on this product that should say, “DRINK AND DUMP”

Kat on

seeing as the alcohol goes out of the system as you process it, there is no need to pump and dump unless you have to feed baby before it is out of your system. Then you should indeed do so in order to keep your supply up.

and just because a woman becomes a mom doesn’t mean she’s not still a person… so if she wants to have an occasional drink, nothing wrong with that.

I had a couple drinks when my oldest was 6mo old with my husband and his friends. My son woke up early for his feeding, so I took some previously stored breastmilk out of the fridge… pumped and dumped after I fed him… and before the next feeding, the stuff was out of my system. If I hadn’t had two drinks so close together, I wouldn’t have needed to, but there you are. (not tipsy, but still just that really super relaxed state from having two drinks in a short time)

I do think this product just feeds into womens’ fears.

Instead, they should talk to their doctors, do the research, and be informed of the realities with having a drink when nursing.

Molly on

Dear DeeAnn,

There is ABSOLUTELY no reason a parent should NOT have a drink now and then. Your attitude perpetuates the dependent behavior on substances that our society suffers from. If we could all relax and accept each others’ differences, coupled with the idea that HEALTH PROFESSIONALS state moderation (A GLASS OR TWO) of alcohol is acceptable.