While pregnant we are limited in our diet in order to maintain a happy and healthy pregnancy so many might wonder if you can drink coffee while breastfeeding. Its easy to assume that just because we are now breastfeeding, that it requires limiting certain pre-baby “joy’s” of life. This isn’t at all true.
One common assumption is that a mother has to continue to strictly monitor their caffeine intake while breastfeeding. While with alcohol we need to be slightly more careful, caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda have not shown to adversely affect a baby’s health while consumed in moderation.
Can I drink my cup of coffee while breastfeeding?
You can absolutely drink coffee while breastfeeding. Only a very small percentage of caffeine from your drink enters your breast milk (0.06%-0.15%).
The CDC goes as far as saying that adverse effects on baby’s have only been noticed in mothers who drink up to 10 cups of coffee in a day. While this is a lot of coffee even for someone not watching their intake, the recommended dosage is 3 cups of 8oz of coffee in a 24-hour period and should not total more than 300mg of coffee.
Personally I like drinking capsule coffee from my Nespresso Coffee Maker because each cup is carefully measured in its water and coffee. For example. I drink the Melozio flavor and was able to easily figure out that one Lungo (8oz cup) is 85mg caffeine. I usually have one morning and one afternoon cup which would equal 170mg of caffeine.
Keep in mind that other drinks and food may also contain caffeine. A few examples of these are: energy drinks, tea and chocolate.
Does caffeine affect baby’s sleep?
Studies show that consuming caffeine in moderation (200-300mg) should not affect your baby in any way, but the reality is that everyone is different. Just like a cup of coffee might keep you up all night, maybe your husband can have a cup an hour before snoozing; our babies’ are just the same.
There is evidence to show that caffeine remains significantly longer in babies’ age 0-6months. The half-life (the amount of time it takes for a drug to reduce in half its content) of caffeine is about 97.5 hours in a newborn, 14 hours in a 3-5 month old and 2.6 hours in a baby older than 6 months (which is equal to that of an adult).
Keep in mind though that when a baby breastfeeds after you’ve consumed caffeine, they are only exposed to a very small percentage (0.06%-0.15%). Also, coffee peeks in our system in 30-60 minutes so if you want to ensure there is less caffeine in your breast milk wait 2 hours between drinking coffee and breastfeeding (although this is not required at all).
So how do you know if your child’s sleep is affected by caffeine in breast milk? Due to a quickly developing brain, a child’s sleep can be very unpredictable the first 3 years of life. Therefore, it is really difficult to know if your cup of coffee is the culprit to a series of bad nights.
However, if you have suspicions that their sleeping is worsened by your coffee consumption, you can try to cut it out. It can take up to 2 weeks to see any results so be patient. Also, it is best to diminish your coffee slowly as head ache and fatigue can incur if you stop cold turkey. After all, it is a drug!
Will caffeine affect my milk supply?
Breastfeeding a child while drinking coffee is A OK. There is no evidence to suggest that breast milk supply is directly affected by caffeine intake. There are ways in which caffeine can indirectly affect supply.
1. Dehydration. Make sure you are still drinking enough water as caffeine can dehydrate you. Dehydration can affect supply.
2. If your baby is sensitive to caffeine, it can make them jittery and consequently nurse less. As breast milk is a game of demand and supply, less nursing will result in less milk supply. However, there will be several stages of your child’s development when they’ll naturally be distracted from nursing this is normal if you are worried about your supple try pumping.
The difference between having caffeine while pregnant vs breastfeeding
When you are pregnant everything you ingest will be shared with your growing baby. The food is digested and passed through your blood stream to your baby. The placenta is very good at rejecting bacteria that might harm the baby, however caffeine passes through freely so it’s very important to monitor the quantity you ingest daily.
Interestingly enough the WHO still suggest a limit of 300mg / day if caffeine while pregnancy while the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists prefer a limit of 200mg.
Personally when I was pregnant my OB said to try to limit it 1 cup of coffee / day, but I was so nervous about the baby that decaf was the only option on my menu during those 9 months. (That quickly changed after Luca’s birth).
I think my fear stemmed out of not fully researching the matter at the time, and also having experienced infertility. It took two years and one miscarriage to conceive our son, which made me extra nervous during that. I think I would be more laid back with my coffee consumption this second time around as I understand better the research behind caffeine and pregnancy.
The Good, the Bad and the Caffeine
With everything in life we need to take the good with the bad. In a perfect world we would drink zero caffeine during pregnancy as well as while breastfeeding but the reality is that we are only human. There are positives to drinking coffee like having something delicious to look forward to in the afternoon.
Sometimes the day feels extra long so getting that boost of energy can be just what you need to keep your sanity. I truly love sipping on my favorite cup of Joe in the morning while feeling the heat rise up into my nostrils. Its the best!
Caffeine also helps us feel leed fatigued after long nights up with our babies, and it can get us through the work day if we are back at the office.
I love coffee and if you are anything like me, so do you. Parenting would be so hard without an extra kick during the day, so as long as the research concludes that there is no harm drinking coffee while pregnant and breastfeeding I will continue to have my daily dose.
The Swedes say, “Everything in Moderation is OK” (Lagom). I love this term because if I was limiting my diet too drastically, it would be difficult to continue enjoying breastfeeding my son.
If you are struggling today and coffee is just not taking the edge off, I invite you to read some feel good quotes about breastfeeding. Remember that we are all in the same boat!
We all have hard day too…