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Rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants, a cup of green tea can do a world of good for your body and energise you for the day. However, when you are lactating, everything that you eat or drink, gets transferred to the baby via breast-milk. In this situation, it becomes important to understand what is good for the baby and what should be avoided. While green tea is known for its abundant health benefits, is green tea good for breastfeeding mothers?
Drinking Green Tea during Breastfeeding – Is it Safe?
“Can I drink green tea while breastfeeding” is a common question asked by lactating mothers.
Although your baby is no more in the womb, your breastmilk is his only source of nutrition in the early days after birth. A mother’s diet needs to be structured in such a way that it provides necessary nutrients to both, herself and her child and at the same time does not have any side effect on any of them.
Drinking green tea while breastfeeding does not have any side effect on the baby and is safe when consumed in limited quantity. Green tea contains essential nutrients such as Vitamin B, folate acid, manganese, magnesium and other antioxidants which help in nourishing the baby and the mother alike. While it contains so many nutrients, the one component which can have an adverse impact on the baby is the caffeine content in green tea.
Plain green tea has a limited quantity of caffeine which is safe to consume for the mother. However, it is best to avoid green tea which comes mixed with herbs or any other ingredients as the effect of those items on the baby may not be known.
How Much Green Tea Can I Drink while Breastfeeding?
Green tea is rich in nutrients which energise and refresh the body. However, since green tea contains caffeine, it is necessary to consume it in limits.
Two cups per day of green tea, with each cup being around 230ml is considered safe for lactating women. The upper limit for daily caffeine consumption is 300mg and a cup of green tea has close to 29mg of the same. A higher quantity of green tea can be consumed in cases where there is no other source of caffeine intake during the day.
- Drink plain green tea. Avoid green tea which comes mixed with other ingredients.
- Keep a tab on your daily caffeine consumption, since you will be consuming other items such as coffee, soda and chocolate which also contains caffeine.
- Limit the consumption of caffeinated beverages (including green tea) as exceeding the prescribed limits can harm your baby.
- Avoid consumption of green tea with iron-rich foods such as leafy vegetables.
Side Effects of Green Tea for Breastfeeding Mothers
There is no scientific backing to prove that green tea has any direct side effects for breastfeeding mothers. Only 1% of the total caffeine consumption enters your breast milk. Unless consumed in excess quantities, green tea does not have any side effect on the mother.
Consuming excessive green tea with iron-rich foods, especially leafy vegetables can interfere with iron absorption process in the mother.
Does Green Tea While Nursing Harm My Baby
Green tea intake in large quantities can cause transfer of surplus caffeine to the baby, leading to the following side effects:
- Frequent bowel movements
- Disturbed sleep and difficulty in falling asleep
- Irritability and fussiness
- Infantile Colic
You should be watchful of any of these symptoms in your baby even if you do not exceed the daily caffeine limit which is considered safe for consumption.
Other Alternatives for Green Tea
If you want to avoid consumption of caffeine entirely while breastfeeding, you can go for alternative beverages which have zero, or lower quantities of caffeine.
Following beverages can be consumed in place of green tea:
- White tea
- Chamomile tea
- Ginger tea
- Rose hips
- Peppermint tea
Mothers can also consume matcha green tea while breastfeeding. However, caffeine content in matcha tea is almost three times that of normal green tea. Lactating mothers will have to keep a tab on total caffeine consumption to ensure that it stays below the advised upper limit which is considered safe for the baby.
Green tea has a lot of health benefits. It helps in reducing cholesterol, boosts weight loss and helps combat cardiovascular diseases. During pregnancy or while lactating after delivery, it is important to limit the consumption of green tea.
A few cups of green tea every day will not cause any harm to the mother or to the baby as long as the overall caffeine consumption is kept within limits. In case you need a high dose of caffeine frequently, a little planning on distributing its consumption can be handy. Mothers should always be on the lookout for any symptoms caused by consuming excess caffeine in the baby and immediately reduce its consumption if it is causing any side effects.
Also Read: Green Tea during Pregnancy