Kenyan myth: Does Guinness increase breast milk?

A common myth has it that Guinness improves breast milk production

At least 99 percent of humanity has tasted breast milk at some point.

Doctors say breast milk is very important as it kick-starts a baby’s life outside the womb – providing many vital nutrients and water, besides being the prime defence against pathogens that may cause illness.

As such, it is understandable if a lactating mother goes the extra mile to ensure a steady production of this precious exudate for the baby’s sake and well-being.

Myth was born

And that is precisely where Guinness (yes, the famous froth) comes in. A common myth has it that Guinness improves breast milk production.

Dr John Ong’ech, an accomplished obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Kenyatta National Hospital disagrees.

He states that consumption of Guinness by a breastfeeding mother will be disastrous – both for the baby and the mother.

“The mother will get drunk and the alcohol will get into the milk. This will lower its quality and harm the baby too. Alcohol – of whatever kind – does not improve breast milk production. It is not safe and it is certainly not right.”

The doctor suspects that women took Guinness to numb birth pains and then mistook it as the reason for milk production that increases after birth.

Low breast milk production stems from too much stress and anxiety, Dr Ong’ech explains, adding that new mothers should avoid stress for constant production of quality milk.

Blame it on stress

“Some people are good at peddling rumours as they grapple for answers for everyday problems they encounter. Low milk production is primarily due to stress. The more the baby suckles, the better for breast milk production as the law of supply and demand applies. I would advise the use of breast pumps for stimulation of the glands to produce more milk,” says Ong’ech.

The doctor observes that lactating mothers who feed well and take plenty of water and other liquids (non-alcoholic of course!) tend to produce sufficient milk.

In situations that warrant medical intervention, Ong’ech says that a drug called Motilium can be administered.

His advice: Breastfeeding mothers should avoid all kinds of alcohol, as its consumption is harmful.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of