Breastfeeding mothers often worry that drinking coffee may have a negative impact on breast milk. If you are a coffee-loving mom, you’ll be happy to know that you needn’t worry about this as long as you don’t overdo it.
Even though a small amount of caffeine does enter your breast milk, it is usually not enough to impact your baby. In fact, it is actually only about 1.5% of the total caffeine you ingest.
The amount of caffeine found in breast milk after drinking coffee typically peaks in the second hour after consuming the beverage. To reduce your concerns, you should time your breast feeding session to prior to or after the peak time.
You can also mitigate the caffeine effect by avoiding drinking more than one cup of coffee at a time. Enjoy your brew as single servings at intervals through the day.
Drinking coffee beverages, such as lattes instead of strong, black coffee can also reduce the amount of caffeine you are taking in. Surprisingly, having an espresso instead of a regular cup of coffee is a good strategy for reducing caffeine because a single serving is so small.
How much coffee can breastfeeding mothers drink?
Obstetricians and pediatricians generally agree that more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day is too much. This equals about three cups of coffee a day, given that a six ounce cup of brewed coffee has between 95 and 130 milligrams of caffeine.
The precise amount of caffeine per cup is greatly dependent upon the type of coffee, the grind, the brewing method and the size of your cup.
Interestingly, the La Leche Society advises that more than five cups of coffee per day is too much.
How will coffee affect my baby?
Because there is such a very small amount of caffeine present in breast milk, it will probably not affect your baby at all. Still, it’s a good idea to be very cautious with newborns because their bodies are not yet capable of breaking caffeine down and flushing it from the system.
For this reason, it can take nearly four days for caffeine to process through a newborn newborn’s system. If you drink a lot of coffee, caffeine may build up in your baby‘s system.
When your baby is three months old, he or she will be able to process caffeine better. At this point, it will take about 14 hours for caffeine to be flushed from the system.
This processing time will continue to reduce as your baby grows older. At six months, it will take a mere 2-3 hours.
What if my baby is cranky?
Coffee is not likely to make your baby cranky, but we all have unique sensitivities. If your baby is very cranky and sleepless there could very well be a problem with caffeine.
If you overdo coffee consumption, you and your baby may both be cranky, jittery and irritable. Exercise moderation and manage coffee consumption and nursing times carefully to give yourself plenty of time to flush caffeine from your system before nursing whenever possible. Adults process caffeine from the system in just under 5 hours.
Coffee when breastfeeding – Take a break
If you think your baby is responding negatively to caffeine in your breast milk, try an experiment. Eliminate caffeine from your diet for seven days to see if it makes a difference. If you are happy at the end of the seven days, leave well enough alone.
If you are dying for a cup of coffee, try adding it back to your diet. If your baby becomes cranky, you’ll know that you must stop drinking coffee – at least for now.
If your baby is still cranky after a week-long break from caffeine, see your pediatrician.
Read also: Best Kettle For Coffee
Watch out for hidden caffeine
If you have determined that your baby is sensitive to caffeine, review your diet and remove all sources. Some sources of caffeine include:
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Coffee ice cream
- Herbal products
- Energy drinks
- Soft drinks
- Black tea
- White tea
- Green tea
Be sure to read labels carefully!
Drink healthy alternatives
Remember that breastfeeding is thirsty work. It’s extremely important to stay well-hydrated and drink nourishing beverages that feed your body, improve the quality of your milk and keep you and baby healthy. Even if you do drink coffee, remember to also drink:
- Calming herbal teas, such as chamomile, mint and ginger
- Pure fruit and vegetable juices
- Lots of pure, filtered water
- Broth (veggie or meat)
Add variety and nutrition by infusing filtered water with fruit slices and berries. Try milk alternatives such as almond milk if you suspect you or your baby may be having a negative response to cow’s milk. You may also wish to try natural coffee alternatives such as chicory and dandelion root beverages.