Caffeine and Breastfeeding

After having a baby, mothers often feel tired for the first few weeks and months, especially when breastfeeding. Feeds can also make you feel dehydrated, so to replenish your fluids, you may be tempted to reach for the coffee or tea. However, whenever you have any food or drink containing caffeine, including coffee and chocolate, some of the caffeine will enter your bloodstream. Does this affect your breast milk, and is taking caffeine and breastfeeding okay? Read on to find out more.

Is Caffeine Safe During Breastfeeding?

Combining caffeine and breastfeeding is safe as long as you don’t overdo it. Under 1% of the caffeine in your blood will reach the breast milk, and the levels in the milk typically peak two hours after you’ve had the caffeine. A newborn baby has difficulty digesting caffeine and passing it out of his or her system, which can lead to build-up in the body. However, at around 3 months old, babies can break down caffeine better so it’s easier to excrete.

Caution: Remember that every baby tolerates caffeine differently, and some may react to even small quantities of caffeine. If this seems to be the case, and your baby is constantly restless or unsettled, try avoiding all caffeine or cutting right back and see whether your baby gets better.

How Much Caffeine Is OK During Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding mothers can take moderate quantities of caffeine, under 300 mg (equals to 16 ounces of brewed coffee) each day, without affecting their baby's behavior. However, taking more than 2-3 cups of coffee daily may result in irritability, agitation, and sleeping problems for either mother or baby. In addition, excessive caffeine can cause minor iron deficiency in babies, as it reduces the iron concentration in the breast milk.

As an alternative to caffeine, try drinking decaffeinated tea or coffee, or milk, fruit juice, or water instead. Some mothers opt for herbal teas, but some of these drinks, for example green teas, contain caffeine. Remember that you should limit your intake of herbal teas to three cups a day maximum when breastfeeding.

Caffeine Contents in Common Foods and Drinks

After knowing that the combination of caffeine and breastfeeding do not pose danger if you consume within healthy limits, it is also important to know how much caffeine you are actually ingesting. Many of the food and drink we consume, including tea, coffee, and chocolate, naturally contain caffeine. It’s also used as an additive to many soft drinks, energy drinks, and cold and flu medications. The amount of caffeine in different types of coffee can vary too, with espresso-based drinks, such as cappuccinos and lattes, particularly high in caffeine, although this does depend on the retailer.

For a guide to how much caffeine is in your drink, please see the table below from Mayoclinic

 
 
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