Is It Safe to Drink Coffee(Caffeine) during Breastfeeding?

Consuming Coffee/Caffeine During Breastfeeding

Coffee has several health benefits. The caffeine present acts as an energizer, inciting raised levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body. Therefore, it should be taken with caution by one and all, especially by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Some babies can be more caffeine sensitive than the others. These babies cannot get rid of the caffeine that has come into their blood stream through the mother’s milk, making them restive and unable to sleep. Babies who are less resistant to it can also suffer from acid reflux or colic. In fact babies born to mothers who restrained from caffeine during pregnancy are more sensitive to it but they gain tolerance with age.

Video: Consuming Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Is Consuming Coffee/Caffeine Safe While Breastfeeding?

Can drinking caffeine affect breastfeeding? Well, that’s a question all nursing mothers have. Experts say consumption of coffee or caffeine in limits (around 1 – 3 cups of coffee/tea a day or similar amount for other caffeinated products like energy drinks) is safe. However, nursing mothers with a baby less than four months old should abstain from it, since babies that young may not be able to deal with even a small amount of caffeine in their blood stream. Observing your baby could also help. In case your baby is awake most of the time, especially after you breastfeed him, or restless and irritable, then it’s a sign that the mother needs to curb on her caffeine intake.

Can the Caffeine You Eat or Drink Get in Your Breast Milk?

Around 10% of caffeine from what is consumed gets into the mother’s breast milk, which, when the baby takes in, gets into his blood stream. After a cup of coffee, caffeine is absorbed into the mother’s blood stream fast and appears in her breast milk within a span of 15 minutes from the time of consumption.

Can Caffeine Harm Your Baby?

Low level of caffeine in the breast milk does not validate that the amount present is safe for your baby. Moreover, caffeine metabolism in a newborn is very slow, at an average of 3 – 4 days and can be even slower in premature babies. However, it gradually increases as the baby matures.

Can Caffeine Decrease Milk Supply?

Caffeine if taken in less or moderate quantity is okay but if taken in large amounts, can dehydrate your body thereby decreasing the supply of milk. Intake of breast milk with caffeine in it can make a baby cranky and fussy. This in turn may result in the baby not wanting milk which in turn may decrease the mother’s supply of breast milk.

Can Caffeine Decrease Milk Supply?

How Much of Caffeine Is Fine?

The effects of caffeine may differ from one mother-baby pair to another based on several factors. Most babies are fine if the mother drinks 1-3 caffeine drinks a day but some babies start showing signs of irritability and sleeplessness when the mother drinks 4-6 caffeinated drinks a day. As the baby grows old, he can metabolise caffeine more efficiently. Therefore, it can be said that several factors have to be studied before determining the amount of caffeine that is fine for a mother-infant pair.

Amount of Caffeine in Your Favorite Food & Beverages

Beverages/Food Size Caffeine(mg)
Brewed Coffee 237 ml 95-165
Espresso 30 ml 47-64
Instant Coffee 237 ml 63
Latte/Mocha 237 ml 63-126
Brewed Black Tea 237 ml 25-48
Green Tea 237 ml 25-29
Cola 237 ml 24-46
Energy Drink 237 ml 27-164
Cold Coffee 237 ml 55-65
Lemon Tea 474 ml 37
Energy Granola Bar 1 Bar (34 g) 50
Dark chocolate 1 Bar 4

Reasons to Avoid Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Caffeine is said to be present in a lot of food and medicines along with tea and coffee. People prefer beverages like tea and coffee because of the caffeine present in them since it keeps people alert and awake. However, its best to keep away from all food and beverage containing caffeine while you are breastfeeding for the following reasons.

  • A small amount of caffeine from the food or beverage that the mother takes, gets into the breast milk which the baby feeds on. As a result of this, the baby sleeps less and also becomes irritable.
  • A fussy and cranky baby may not nurse well. Therefore, the supply of the mother’s breast milk will decrease since the demand is less.
  • Caffeine can cause allergies in babies. Therefore a breastfeeding child taking in caffeine through his mother’s milk may get rashes or may have problems with stools.
  • Too much of a caffeine intake can cause dehydration which further results in less supply of breast milk.

Healthy Alternatives to Caffeinated Drinks

Since coffee and breastfeeding cannot go hand in hand, here is a list of substitutes which work like coffee but are caffeine free.

  • Tender Coconut Water: It can quench your thirst and invigorate you at the same time.
  • Licorice Tea: This brew is actually caffeine free. It increases energy by acting as a tonic to the adrenal glands.
  • Wheatgrass Juice : This is a natural energiser rich in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
  • Carob powder : It is caffeine free and similar to cocoa powder which when taken with a mix of milk and honey vitalizes you.
  • Lemon Water : It instantly jolts you up with it’s freshness. It’s an instant revitalizer.
  • Green Smoothies: A blend of fresh veggies and fruits is a quick way to feel fresh and energized.
  • Peppermint Tea: This minty drink not only freshens up your breath but also calms you down with it’s cooling sensation.
  • Ginseng Tea: It increases blood flow and like coffee, has a stimulating effect.
  • Chamomile Tea: Although being caffeine free, it helps people to unwind, relax and also improves sleep disorders.
  • Green Tea: It contains a very less amount of caffeine and is packed with rich anti-oxidants that are  beneficial for health.

Caffeine can be found in most of the beverages. It is said to be a great energy booster. People crave for a cup of freshly brewed tea or coffee  in the morning. However, beverages or food containing caffeine should not be taken in excess while breast feeding an infant since it can lead to a lot of health issues in the baby. Otherwise too, caffeine taken in excess has it’s side-effects. Therefore if you think you are consuming too much of it, cut back on it and see your lifestyle change for the better.

Also Read: Breastfeeding Your Baby All You Need to Know to Get Started

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