Breastalyzer Test

Posted on November 21st, 2006 – 2:53 PM
By Kay Krhin

The holiday party season is officially upon us. This means free-flowing wine and festive cocktails at most gatherings. So, what is a nursing mom to do? Say “no” to the nog or join in the holiday spirits? 

There is so much conflicting information out there veiled in ambiguity when it comes to the subject of alcohol and breastfeeding. Should the nursing mom feel guilty if she has the occasional glass of wine or beer? Enter Milkscreen an at-home system that claims to detect alcohol in your breast milk. The box contains six test strips that were developed by two mothers from Austin, TX. They state  ”We created Milkscreen to provide mothers with the peace of mind that the milk baby drinks is alcohol free.” Intrigued and curiously skeptical May and I set out to do a little Cribsheet product testing of our own…  

We met at  Beaujo’s Wine Bar & Bistro, a warm and friendly little spot near 50th & France. I sat at a high top perusing the wine list and May sidled up on the stool next to mine with a box of Milkscreen strips in hidden in her purse. Our covert operation had begun. Along with some dinner we each ordered a glass of white wine. It was so pleasant to kick back, relax and converse outside of the office. It almost felt indulgent to have a few hours to ourselves for mom’s night out.  

But we kept our mission in mind. We had synchronized our watches when our wine arrived at the table. After one hour and exactly 1.5 glasses of Pinot Grigio I made my way back to the restroom with a secret sly smile on my face.  I discovered there was only one unisex bathroom, and of course there was a line. Dang! I let person after person go ahead of me. They were probably thinking I was merely Minnesota nice. What they didn’t know was that I just didn’t know how long it was going to take for me to muster up a few drips for the strip and didn’t want to hold up the line. Finally I got some privacy behind closed doors. I got the job done and er, soaked the strip. The directions said to wait 2 minutes, and if the end of the strip turned blue, there was alcohol present in your milk supply. Yep. Blue.  I went back to the table and warned May about the line. She hid the Milkscreen package in her palm and set out to do the same. She came back with the same result from 1.5 glasses of a nice South African Sauvignon Blanc. Blue.

After we went home I did one more test before bed, 3 hours after finishing my wine. Nothing. No blue at all. According to research studies, alcohol potency peaks about 30 to 60 minutes after consuming, and 60 to 90 minutes when consumed with food. The average woman metabolizes one drink within approximately two hours. There are all kinds of variables, of course, but my results seemed to be in line. The Milkscreen strip indicated it was indeed safe to nurse again.

So what do we make of the results? Spendy. May and I split the bill out of pocket on a box of six Milkscreen strips. They retail online for $19.95 + $10 for a rush shipment (hey, we were anxious to go out!) So at an average of almost $5.00 per strip – would we buy them again? Maybe, but only as a novelty shower gift. For our own use? No. Seems a good rule of thumb is if you feel tipsy – don’t breastfeed. If you are concerned – go ahead and try Milkscreen to give you peace of mind.  Just use common sense, combined with time, moderation and a back up plan. Cheers!

If you are/were a nursing mother – what do you do when it comes to the cocktails?


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