Advice Column, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby

Can Mom Drink Coffee When Breastfeeding?

Food and drink restrictions while pregnant are normal and expected. But how about after the little one arrives? After 9 good months of deprivation and caution, can you actually go back to your normal eating/drinking life? Most pregnant women pay attention to anything they take; wondering if that tiny bite of sushi or soft cheese will affect their little ones.

The worry continues even for any breastfeeding mom. Just as you were restricted to taking certain foods/drinks when pregnant, the same restrictions still prevail even when breastfeeding.  You might have heard some mom say that taking in cabbage made their baby gassy.

Mom Drinking Coffee

Others say taking in coffee kept their little ones awake all night. The major question here is can mom drink coffee when breastfeeding? Does the baby sip some coffee through the breast milk? If so, is it safe for her/him? Well, to some degree, it is safe, mostly when the little one is more than 3 months old.

Here is what happens when you take a cup of coffee when breastfeeding.

Factors Determining The Caffeine Effects On A Baby

There are several factors that determine how caffeine will affect a baby. Though it is not recommended for mom to take caffeine when pregnant, some still do it. Well, such babies are likely to have less caffeine reaction after birth.

This means that if you are hundred percent sure you did not take caffeine when pregnant, your baby will have more reaction to caffeine after birth. Besides coffee intake, while pregnant, another factor that determines the effects of caffeine is the age of your little one.

Babies below six months tend to react more to caffeine than older ones. So, you can skip taking coffee or other caffeine-rich drinks for these first 6 months. This will allow the baby to have a better excreting and processing of caffeine as they grow.

According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, newborn kids take around 160 hours to process caffeine. Those are 6 good days! On the other hand, when a baby is 6 months old, it should take them almost 3 to 7 hours.

So, How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

Just 1% of caffeine intake goes into the breast milk through the bloodstream. The caffeine in your breast milk starts to peak almost one hour after consumption. On to the issue of how much caffeine is too much, that really depends on the mother and their little one.

Some babies might process caffeine efficiently and quickly. Such a baby will have fewer effects of caffeine. Usually, pregnant or breastfeeding moms should not take more than 300mg of caffeine each day. Those are about two cups of coffee – based on the brew.

According to Healthychildren.org, taking three cups of coffee or less throughout the day might show some or no caffeine in the kid’s urine.

Can A Baby Be Sensitive To Caffeine Intake?

If you consume over 300 mg of caffeine every day, then, the answer to this question is yes. Your baby will show symptoms of caffeine stimulation such as being fussy, irritable and fails to sleep for long.

In such a case, a breastfeeding mom should substitute coffee with caffeine-free drinks at least for one or two weeks. Within these two weeks or after, you should notice a significant difference in how your baby behaves.  If indeed caffeine stimulation was the cause, your baby will become less fussy after a few days – that is – when you eliminate caffeine.

Can Caffeine Decrease The Supply Of Breast Milk?

Fortunately, there is no research pointing out that caffeine can lower milk supply. However, the myth about caffeine and milk decrease is widespread. Most new moms take caffeine and none has stated any diverse impacts of caffeine on breast milk supply.

In the light of this, no clinical observation or study that proves caffeine can reduce the supply of breast milk. In fact, a Nehlig & Debry study (1994) shows that caffeine intake can indeed stimulate the production of breast milk. Nonetheless, caffeine stimulation might make a baby jittery and fussy baby.  Such a baby might not nurse properly.

As a result, your milk supply can decrease with time. Take note, the mom’s intake of caffeine did not cause a decrease in milk supply. Rather it was caused by the decrease in nursing.

Other Caffeine Sources

Though coffee is a source of caffeine, it is not the only one. According to Dailycupo.com, Energy/sports drinks, soft drinks, and tea also contain caffeine. More so, some prescription and over-the-counter medications, any food containing chocolate or coffee also have caffeine.

Further, green tea, herbal products that have Paullina/guarana cupana and yerba mate are sources of caffeine. Therefore, any mother worried about the caffeine the take should take note of these other caffeine-rich drinks and foods.

The Takeaway

There is no scientific study that states you should avoid taking a coffee when breastfeeding. However, it would be wise if you enjoyed your cup of hot coffee in moderation.

Some of the strategies you can use to control your caffeine intake are:

  1. Paying close attention to your baby: some little babies are highly sensitive to caffeine. Thus, they may become restless or fussy in case your breast milk has excessive caffeine.
  2. Monitor how any other dietary option affects your baby; not just caffeine. A drink with high sugar concentration, for instance, can have similar effects to the baby as caffeine does.
  3. Acknowledge that your health, as a breastfeeding mom, matters as well. Here you should evaluate why you need caffeine in the first place.

Do you want it to help you deal with regular nighttime wakeups? Or you want coffee to boosting or maintain your energy level?
If your answer to either of these two questions, then you should take coffee in moderation.

Take coffee immediately after a pumping session or nursing. This strategy becomes successful when you know how frequent your baby nurses. In doing so, the caffeine in your baby milk will have enough time to drop before your next pumping session or nursing.

Make exclusions if you got a premature baby. In case your baby has a certain medical condition or was born premature, certainly, you should talk to a lactation consultant or doctor. The specialist will advise you whether or not to take caffeine.

Cut back your caffeine intake. Taking more than two or three cups of coffee in a day could increase the caffeine content in breast milk.

So, it is best to reduce the amount by taking “half-half” cups. You can mix it with decaf or regular coffee.

Unlike caffeinated coffee, decaf coffee contains small caffeine content. Therefore, it would be safer if you took decaf coffee. However, decaf coffee is highly acidic as well. Thus, it might impact the iron level in breast milk.

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