Can I drink caffeine while breastfeeding?
This is a question many nursing moms ask themselves. Do you find yourself wondering the same thing?
It’s understandable—after all, if you’ve been avoiding all forms of caffeine while pregnant, you may be more than ready to get back to your morning cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda with lunch every now and then.
But of course, you want to be sure you’re doing the right thing for your little one, too. This is why it’s crucial to understand as much as you can about drinking caffeine while nursing before you ever feel the temptation to make a choice on the matter.
Read on to learn more.
Can you have caffeine while breastfeeding if it comes from a healthier source? What about caffeine that’s found naturally in foods? It’s a good idea to understand the many different sources of caffeine you may face on a regular basis. Coffee and soda aren’t the only culprits, so check out this list to get an idea of what you might want to avoid.
These are the obvious ones. Even decaf coffee contains some caffeine. Most caffeine-free sodas really are caffeine free, but always double check, because some types of fruit sodas and root beers still do contain caffeine.
Black and green tea have some caffeine content, even if they say they’re decaf. Many “infusion” or herbal teas do not, but be sure to check the nutrition information on the tea to be sure.
Cocoa contains caffeine, and therefore, chocolate does too. White chocolate usually doesn’t, but it might so check on this before you consume any white chocolate.
Some types of pain relievers, like Excedrin and Midol, contain caffeine.
These are usually fortified with caffeine.
So now you know a little bit more about which foods and drinks to watch out for, but how much caffeine can you drink while breastfeeding? Is any amount too much? Should you stay away from caffeine completely until you’re done breastfeeding?
The short answer is no, you don’t have to avoid caffeine completely after you’ve given birth to your child. In moderation, it shouldn’t pose any cause for concern.
In some instances, too much caffeine in your diet may cause your breast milk to have a lower iron content, which may in turn cause an iron deficiency in your baby.
Newborn babies are more sensitive to caffeine in breast milk than older babies. When in doubt, wait until your child is about six months old before you reintroduce caffeinated food and beverages into your diet.
If your baby was premature or becomes sick, stay away from caffeine until your child is big and strong enough to process it.
Caffeine sensitivity in nursing babies will usually present itself as more fussiness at nap time and bedtime or irritability for no obvious reason.
It is a myth that caffeine intake will decrease your milk supply. This has been disproven by several studies and is not generally accepted information by healthcare professionals.
There are a lot of questions you may still have regarding consuming caffeine when breastfeeding. “So can I drink caffeine when breastfeeding if I’m careful about the amount?” you might wonder. Generally speaking, yes. You should be able to enjoy a small amount of caffeine every day without worrying about it causing any harm for your nursing baby.
Caffeine in breast milk peaks about 2 hours after you eat or drink it. Only about 1% of the caffeine you consume will end up in your breast milk.
You can time your baby’s nursing sessions around the peaking of caffeine content in your milk supply.
Most professionals agree that a nursing mom should have no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day over all combined caffeine sources. This equals out to about one 16oz cup of coffee every day. However, if you’re eating foods or having other drinks that also contain traces of caffeine, you may need to cut back on your daily coffee more than you might realize.
If you are also a smoker, this will increase the effects of caffeine on you as well as on your baby. It’s best to avoid smoking when nursing your baby if at all possible.
Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect from drinking caffeine while nursing, you’re probably wondering what you should do if you happen to ingest more than the equivalent of a 16oz cup of coffee per day. What happens if you accidentally or purposefully go way over that amount of caffeine? Should you pump and dump?
Most healthcare professionals and other nursing moms agree that you should not pump and dump if you’ve had caffeine, even if you’ve gone over the recommended amount for a day. It’s not necessary, as the most you’ll probably have to deal with is a fussy baby for a short while. Even if you’ve had a lot of caffeine for the day, nurse your baby as normal and try not to worry about it.
The only time when pumping and dumping is really recommended is when your doctor or your child’s pediatrician has suggested it because of a medication you may be taking or for some other specific reason.
If you find your child struggling with caffeine content in your breast milk regularly, however, you may need to think about avoiding caffeine altogether or weaning your child onto formula.
With the right information to help you make the best decision for your little one, you can enjoy caffeine in moderation even while you’re still nursing. And when in doubt, ask your baby’s pediatrician for more assistance.