If you cut back on caffeinated drinks during pregnancy, it’s not surprising if you want to reward your forbearance with some delicious coffee after childbirth. But what are the effects of caffeine on breast milk when you’re nursing? Let’s get the facts on caffeine while breastfeeding and how to keep you and your baby healthy on your coffee break.
Is caffeine while breastfeeding safe?
In general, most breastfeeding moms can safely handle a moderate amount of caffeine each day. According to many sources, the safe and sensible upper limit is 300mg of caffeine per day. That works out to about 16 ounces of coffee.
Caffeine is not inherently harmful to babies, and it’s even given in high doses as a medical treatment for premature babies with breathing difficulties. What’s more, only a very small amount of caffeine actually ends up in breast milk: no more than 1.5% of caffeine in Mama’s bloodstream.
However, as anyone who’s ever downed too much coffee can tell you, caffeine it can make you jittery, anxious, or make it harder to fall asleep. The same goes for nursing babies.
How much caffeine while breastfeeding is too much?
Most experts put the upper limit for recommended caffeine consumption at 300mg per day for breastfeeding moms. However, caffeine sensitivity can vary a lot from person to person. Your definition of “too much” could your friend’s “not enough” or vice versa.
Similarly, babies also have their own rates of processing caffeine. The only way to know whether you’re taking in too much caffeine while breastfeeding is to be attuned to how it affects your baby.
Babies are much more sensitive to the effects of a caffeine than adults, as it takes their tiny bodies longer to process. The effect is even stronger for newborns. While a 6-month-old baby can usually process caffeine in around 2 to 3 hours, it takes a newborn as long as 160 hours to break down caffeine.
If your baby gets too much caffeine from your breast milk, he or she may be:
- Wide-eyed and alert
- Having trouble sleeping
If your baby is acting wired or sleeping poorly every time you drink coffee, their metabolism may not be up to the task of processing caffeine yet. Fortunately, this will improve with age as more enzymes kick into action. Until then, it’s a good idea to try eliminating caffeine to see if it helps. If so, wait until your baby’s a little older before gradually re-introducing it.
Does caffeine while breastfeeding reduce milk supply?
There’s no evidence to suggest that moms who drink caffeine produce less breast milk compared to moms who don’t. Some data suggests that moderate caffeine intake could actually stimulate milk production.
Caffeinated or no, it’s actually quite rare for moms to produce insufficient milk for their babies. If you’re concerned that you have a low milk supply, talk to your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant to make sure your baby is getting enough of the good stuff.
Caffeine and breastfeeding: It can be safe with attention
Breast milk is a great way to give your baby a healthy start to life. Even if you happen to enjoy a few cups of coffee a day, moderate intake isn’t likely to do you or your milk supply any harm. But remember: caffeine is also present in other dietary sources like chocolate, green tea like matcha, energy drinks and many herbal teas.
If you think you or your baby are are feeling the caffeine jitters, take a look at the different sources of caffeine in your diet. Reading the labels of food and drink packages could help you tally up your caffeine intake. Making some adjustments until your baby’s metabolism is ready to handle caffeine could help you both sleep easier.