Friday, December 19

Breastfeeding with confidence with the Milkscreen Home Test

Breast is best for baby and I know this. But as hard as I tried, three hospital visits for severe mastitis in Buttercup's first six weeks put an end to my efforts and we made the switch to formula.
So when Mom4Life asked for me to review their Milkscreen Home Test for Alcohol in Breast Milk, I almost said no. After all, how could I accurately review a product if I could not even say that I had used it?
That's when I decided to contact my friend Lisa, whose baby is the same age as Buttercup. She has been a champion breastfeeding Momma since day one, and she happily agreed to give me her thoughts on the Milkscreen product.
But before I share Lisa's thoughts, a little background on the product might help.
The Milkscreen Home Test by Up Spring Baby, which was featured on the CBS talk show, "The Doctors," is described as an easy-to-use two-minute test that detects alcohol in breast milk. The premise? Instead of "pumping and dumping" after a night out with friends or even just a glass of wine with dinner, you can first try the Milkscreen to find out if your body has metabolized the alcohol or if it is still in your system. The guesswork is gone, and you now whether it is safe to breastfeed your child, or if you truly do need to "pump and dump"and instead pull out some frozen breast milk for the scheduled feeding.
Now, on to Lisa's thoughts:

"OK, here goes. Ease of use: Super easy. The box that the Milkscreen strips
come in is big, but the strips themselves are in small flat sealed envelopes.
Totally easy to slip in your purse or diaper bag if you’re going out. I was
worried that I would need to drag out my pump in order to use them, but all you
have to do is saturate a very small pad. I was able to hand-express a few drops
of milk and saturate it easily. It’s easy to read the results too. The pad turns
dark if there is alcohol in your milk. There is a paper included in the box to
compare against to determine whether or not the alcohol is at a safe level or

Accuracy: The results seemed accurate. After a few glasses of wine over a
period of a few hours, the pad was dark. I also tested when I hadn’t been
drinking at all, and the pad never changed colors.

The one negative thing I will say is that I think that the strips are
engineered to be too sensitive. They are designed to change colors if your blood
alcohol is over 0.02%. If you read the enclosed information, it says that blood
alcohol levels of 0.03% are associated with a change of behavior on the part of
the baby – they take in less milk after mom has been drinking. But honestly, is
it a big deal if your baby takes in slightly less milk when you have the
occasional drink? Obviously, it could lead to failure to thrive with a young
baby if you are drinking every night, but if you’re drinking every night,
breastfeeding probably isn’t a good idea anyway! I prefer
kellymom’s test:
“Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) is not
harmful to the nursing baby… In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you
are sober enough to breastfeed.

Most states consider you “sober enough to drive” if your blood alcohol
level is under 0.10%, so you could miserably fail the Milkscreen test and still
be considered sober enough to drive, and therefore breastfeed. I would love to
see the Milkscreen test give a more accurate indication of the exact blood
alcohol content. Certainly, if I were at 0.08% or 0.09%, I’d avoid nursing. But
I’ve been in situations where not nursing would be very, very inconvenient, and
there, I might choose to nurse if I were only at 0.02% or 0.03%, knowing that
one night of mildly alcoholic milk might cause my daughter to eat a
little less or sleep a little poorly, but would have no long-term effects on her

All that said, I might still pick up some of these strips (for business
trips). I often end up pumping after I get back from dinner, where I’ve had a
drink or two. I sometimes dump that milk because I’m just not sure if it’s safe
or not, so having Milkscreen would give me more confidence to keep the milk if
it is OK. Also, I might get them when I have another baby, since alcohol in
breast milk is more of a concern for newborns (whose livers are immature and have
trouble processing even small amounts of alcohol) than for older babies.

I hope that makes sense and that I don’t sound like I’m compromising my
daughter's health in any way. Overall, I think the strips work as advertised,
and it’s just up to each individual mom how much she’s concerned about alcohol
in her breast milk and the potential effects on her baby."

From my own short-lived breastfeeding experience, I only had one glass of wine here and there after my daughter had gone to sleep for the night, knowing that my body would have metabolized the alcohol with plenty of time to spare before she needed to be fed again. I was having way to many breastfeeding issues to even consider "pumping and dumping" for a
glass of wine, so I played it safe just because I didn't think I had any other options.

But I didn't have the Milkscreen to rely on to let me know if I was in the
"danger" zone and I wasn't comfortable guessing with a newborn. Based on Lisa's thoughts, I would definitely recommend trying this product out if you are a breastfeeding mother who enjoys the occasional alcoholic beverage, and I thank Lisa for her time and honesty.

*The Milkscreen Home Test for Alcohol in Breast Milk is available at Mom4Life. Prices are as follows: 20-pack for $19.99, eight-pack for $9.99, and three-pack for $4.99.


Gina said...

I saw those on "The Doctors" too. They seem like a good idea for those mamas who are really anxious about things like that. It will give them the peace of mind they need. I am a breastfeeding mama, too, so I totally get it. But honestly, they seem like one of those first time mama things, KWIM?

Cat@3KidsandUs said...

I don't know, I made it 14 months breastfeeding and never once felt the need to indulge in drinking alcohol while doing so. I guess it's a personal choice, but it seems like a small price to pay for the safety of your baby.

Reiza said...

I think these are just silly. I agree that it seems like a first-time mom thing, but being a first-mom, you already have so much to worry about. This just seems excessive. The general rule regarding alcohol is that once it leaves your blood-stream, it has left your milk. So if you feel buzzed or drunk, there's probably some in your milk.

True, some moms opt not to drink at all. Then you have no worries about alcohol. But even those who do have a drink really don't need these.