As part of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, our Chief Evangelist Officer Kimberly Schram met (virtually!) with the inventor of Milkscreen and one of the co-founders of Upspring, Julie Jumonville. They discussed the sometimes controversial topic of alcohol and breastfeeding and what led Julie to invent the Milkscreen test to detect alcohol in breastmilk. You can watch the full conversation linked above, but here's a recap of the Q&A with Julie.
What is Milkscreen?
Milkscreen is a 2-minute test designed to test alcohol in breastmilk. It's actually the original breast milk and alcohol test, so it was the first of its kind. Kourtney Kardashian even used it after the birth of her first child. Here's proof.
When and why was Milkscreen invented?
Julie served as the matron-of-honor in her sister-in-law's wedding. She wanted to give her SIL a toast and be able to celebrate her on her special day, but Julie was also breastfeeding her oldest daughter at the time. That, coupled with the fact that Julie already knew a lot about breastmilk and served on the board of Mothers' Milk Bank in Austin, inspired the invention of the at-home test to detect alcohol in breast milk in 2001.
Pregnant women should not consume alcohol and many abstain for a minimum of nine months during pregnancy. Women often give up alcohol as they are actively trying to conceive, then through the duration of their pregnancy. You spend so many months scrutinizing everything that goes into your body, then those worries can continue if you opt to breastfeed. Some moms continue to abstain from things like alcohol through the duration of their breastfeeding journeys, and we absolutely support that! But other moms, like co-founder and Milkscreen inventor Julie, want the option to work a champagne toast back into their lives, worry-free. Milkscreen can be a valuable tool for moms like Julie.
How do you use Milkscreen?
- After consuming alcohol, express a few drops of breastmilk directly on to the test pad OR collect a small sample of milk and dip the test strip into the sample.
- After saturating the test pad, wait exactly 2 minutes to read the results. Set a timer if you need to! This step is really important, because the test is designed to be read 2 minutes after saturation and the result read at this time is the most accurate.
- Any color change, or speckling, on the test pad 2 minutes after saturation indicates that alcohol is present at 13.1 mg/dL or higher.
That's it! It's super easy.
Important to note: Do not dip Milkscreen directly into alcohol (or any liquid other than breastmilk) just as a test. Some tend to do this just to gauge if the strips will work, but the strips are only designed to be read when tested with actual breastmilk.
Can I use Milkscreen with breastmilk that has been previously pumped? What about pumped and then frozen?
Absolutely. For frozen milk, you'd of course want to thaw it first, gently swirl the milk to and then test.
Why would you opt to use Milkscreen?
Some say as long as you're not feeling buzzed or tipsy, it's okay to feed your baby. Others want to be a little more cautious. Milkscreen is for the latter group.
One important thing to keep in mind is that all bodies metabolize alcohol differently. There are lots of factors that come into play like your body weight, the type and amount of alcohol you're drinking, whether or not you ate, how much water you drank, the length of time between drinks and the time that lapses before you pump or feed. That makes it really difficult to say absolutely, "it is safe to have X number of alcoholic drinks before you feed your baby." Which is why Julie invented Milkscreen.
Milkscreen can better help you understand your metabolism and how your body processes alcohol.
Finally, we've heard that moms who deliver before the holiday season sometimes choose to discontinue breastfeeding when they know they have lots of social events coming up at which alcohol may be present. We want to empower our Mighty Mamas to continue to breastfeed, regardless of social schedule, and just do so safely. One of our goals is to help mom extend the life of her breastfeeding journey!
When would be the best time for a breastfeeding mom to have a drink?
Ideally, if you're choosing to drink alcohol, you would do so right after a feeding. That would give your body the most time to process the alcohol before the next feeding. Of course, we'd recommend testing with Milkscreen if you have any questions!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting a couple of hours after consuming an alcoholic drink to breastfeed, but again, that's going to vary by person based on a number of factors.
What about pumping and dumping?
Pumping and dumping is not recommended as alcohol eliminates from the breastmilk over time and new milk produced may still contain alcohol. Milkscreen can help! With Milkscreen, you can test your milk before nursing. We know that every ounce of that liquid gold counts!
Why is the detection threshold of Milkscreen so low?
Milkscreen is designed to detect whether alcohol is present at or above 13.1mg./dL. We want to give our moms an option to make decisions on what's best for her and her baby. Milkscreen does just that! Furthermore, this design came at moms' request to test at a more conservative level for peace of mind.
What should I do if my test comes back positive for alcohol in my breastmilk?
We'd suggest giving it some more time, and then retesting in about 30 minutes. Guidelines suggest waiting around 2-3 hours from last alcoholic drink consumed. You can express milk to relieve any pressure you may be feeling! If alcohol is still present, you can continue to wait and test. Milkscreen helps to offer you options!