An Essential Guide to Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding

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I love my coffee because it makes me feel more alert! It helps me get up in the morning, especially after becoming a full-time mother. Also, it helped me feel more awake when I hadn’t gotten much sleep because of my new baby.

However, I’ve read somewhere that caffeine isn’t safe for breastfeeding, so I decided to do my own thorough research. And I’ve concluded that it’s safe to drink caffeine and consume foods that have caffeine-like chocolate while you’re breastfeeding. However, experts suggest limiting your caffeine intake to 300 milligrams per day while breastfeeding.

In today’s article, I will explain how caffeine affects babies and answer some of the most common questions related to it.

Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding
Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding

Is it Safe to Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?

It is safe to drink coffee and consume foods that have caffeine-like chocolate while you are breastfeeding. After running around the house all day or late-night tantrums, I can’t blame you for craving a hot cup of coffee because I have been there!

Being a full-time mom isn’t easy, but coffee helps, and in moderation, it’s perfectly safe to drink coffee while breastfeeding. A small amount of caffeine won’t harm your baby.

How Does Caffeine Affect Babies?

Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding

When caffeine steps into your bloodstream, a small amount can be transferred to your baby via breast milk. Most don’t have a problem with this, but some more sensitive babies can be super fussy or wakeful after consuming breast milk with traces of caffeine. 

They can experience restlessness, hyperactivity, irritability, fussiness, and more trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. However, you can stop this from happening!

Note that the concentration of caffeine in your milk will reach a high point about 2 hours after having caffeinated food or drink.

Also, make sure to check the caffeine levels in other beverages you drink regularly and keep in mind that certain foods can contain it as well.

How Much Caffeine Can I Drink While Breastfeeding Per Day?

Experts recommend limiting your caffeine intake to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day while breastfeeding. For comparison, about 3 cups of coffee contain 500 milligrams.

If you’re a breastfeeding mom who consumes more than 300 milligrams of caffeine daily, your baby can experience fussiness in addition to sleep disturbances. Also, excessive caffeine intake can harm you! You can experience rapid heartbeat, anxiety, dizziness, jitters, and insomnia.

Last but certainly not least, I want to mention that caffeine intake does not decrease breast milk production. On the contrary, moderate consumption can actually increase it.

Does Caffeine Affect The Nutritional Value of Breast Milk?

Drinking caffeine can affect the nutritional value of your milk. Moms who consume 3 cups of coffee daily have 1/3 less iron in their milk than moms who don’t drink any coffee, so keep that in mind. 

Also, decrease your caffeine consumption to 1 cup of coffee a day, if possible, or quit caffeine altogether until your baby is old enough to process it faster. Or even until you are done breastfeeding.

How Long After Coffee Can I Breastfeed?

Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding

If you believe that your caffeine intake is making your baby stay awake longer, experts suggest feeding your baby before you consume caffeine. Then, wait about 3 hours before breastfeeding again.

Mothers limit or even cut coffee during pregnancy because of the risk of caffeine crossing the placenta and affecting the baby.

However, caffeine is less likely to influence a baby while breastfeeding because your body metabolizes most of the caffeine before it gets to your milk or has a chance to affect the baby.

Caffeine levels in milk peak about 1-2 hours after having coffee. And if you have recently breastfed your baby, you can watch closely to see whether they experience any side effects.

Does Caffeine Affect Baby Through Breast Milk?

Caffeine affects your baby through breast milk.

When you take caffeine, it’s absorbed from your belly into your bloodstream. Then, your liver processes the caffeine and breaks it down into compounds that affect different bodily functions and organs.

About 1% of the total amount of caffeine women eat or drink goes through their breast milk. A study in 15 lactating mothers showed that those who consumed beverages having 36-335 milligrams of caffeine showed 0.06-1.5% of the maternal dose in their milk. This amount seems small, but infants can’t process it as fast as adults.

How Long Does Caffeine Linger in Mothers and Babies?

In adults, caffeine remains in their bodies for 3-7 hours. But infants can hold onto it between 65 and 130 hours, as their kidneys and livers are not fully developed. Also, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says that preterm and newborn babies break down caffeine more slowly than older ones.

So, even small amounts that go through your milk can pile up in their body over some period, especially in newborns. In general, having a small amount of caffeine from your milk can result in your child obtaining a small caffeine dose.

Should I Pump and Dump After Coffee?

You shouldn’t pump and dump after consuming moderate amounts of caffeine because it doesn’t affect your breast milk.

How to Get Rid of Caffeine in Breast Milk?

There’s not a magic way to remove caffeine from your breast milk. The only thing you can do is wait about 3 hours before breastfeeding. In those 3 hours, your system will process the caffeine completely, so you don’t have to worry about it spreading through your breast milk.

Alternatives to Drinking Coffee

I know how much you love coffee! I do too! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, if you ever want to try natural coffee alternatives that can help you feel more awake and energized, consider the following few beverages.

Water

Water isn’t as delicious as coffee. However, it can still help you feel refreshed and more awake. Fatigue can be a sign of dehydration.

Therefore, staying at the top of your water game is important. In fact, it’s suggested that breastfeeding moms consume about 128 ounces of water per day.

Moringa latte

green latte

A Moringa latte can be a great replacement for coffee because all parts of the plant have nutritional value. In fact, this plant is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, and protein.

These things can fuel your body and boost your energy! Also known as a “mother’s best friend,” you can mix your Moringa powder with hot water, steamed standard milk or plant-based milk, and sweetener. In my opinion, it’s similar to a Matcha latte minus the caffeine.

Golden Milk

Another great alternative to coffee is Golden Milk. It’s a cheery cup of goodness that will fuel your body with clean energy while improving your immunity.

The drink also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that will help you start your day without consuming caffeinated beverages.

Final Tips

Caffeine is a favorite among people all around the world. It can boost your energy, especially if you’re a sleep-deprived mom but if you’re breastfeeding, you may not want to overuse it.

It’s advised to limit your caffeine intake while breastfeeding, as traces can go into your milk, building up in your infant over time. However, about 300 milligrams (about 2-3 cups or 470-710 milliliters) of coffee or tea (about 3-4 cups or 710-946 milliliters) per day is considered safe.

Caffeine Withdrawal Can Be Hard

I also want to say that I know caffeine withdrawal can be uncomfortable. Therefore, suddenly cutting it off if you’ve been consuming a lot will cause problems. For instance, you can experience irritability and headaches, and your little one can too.

So, I suggest decreasing your caffeine intake slowly to prevent distress. And although headaches usually occur during withdrawal, keep in mind that painkillers aren’t safe while breastfeeding.

Another thing I want to mention is that caffeine can actually stimulate babies who’re at risk of apnea, but it can reduce the nutritional value of your milk over some time.

Additionally, it can make it more difficult to keep your baby calm, ironically leaving you even more stressed out and tired. However, careful timing of your caffeine intake will make things better.

Just remember that caffeine has multiple harmful effects when overused, which can also affect your baby. In addition, high-sugar drinks might also affect your baby as much as caffeine, so keep that in mind.

Talk to A Lactation Consultant or Doctor in Delicate Situations

I want to wrap up this article by saying that if your baby has a particular medical condition, such as some food intolerances, or was born premature, you should definitely talk to a lactation consultant or doctor about consuming caffeine. They will help you decide what’s best for you and your baby.

What’s your experience with caffeine? Have you noticed any effects on your little one after consuming coffee, tea, energy drinks, or chocolate? Do you have any of your tips that you would like to share with other moms?

If so, drop a comment below, and let’s chat about maternal caffeine consumption while breastfeeding.

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