What you need to know about caffeine and breastfeeding
Would you make a cup of coffee for your baby? An espresso perhaps? Those tiny little cups would be perfect for baby’s tiny hands. It’s an amusing visual, but you would never consider it. Yet everything that you consume makes its way through your breast milk. So how does caffeine in your system affect your breast milk and, in turn, your baby?
When caffeine enters the bloodstream, a very small amount ends up in your breast milk. Many experts agree that the amount from a cup of coffee is very low. So you don’t have to worry—you can still show your latte some love!
Moderation is key
It’s fine to continue enjoying your morning coffee or tea if you’re breastfeeding, but you should limit your caffeine intake to 200 to 300 milligrams a day. That’s roughly the amount in two to three small cups of coffee. Refer to one of the several charts online indicating the amounts of caffeine in common foods and drinks.
Remember: Caffeine is in more than coffee
Surprisingly, caffeine can be found in several things. It is in certain teas (hot and cold), soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, herbal products, some over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy and cold medications. Always read the label when purchasing medications.
Your caffeine intake peaks in your breast milk a couple of hours after consumption. Try spreading your intake throughout the day, so it doesn’t end up in your milk all at once. For example, have a cup of coffee in the morning if that’s part of your regular routine, and maybe save a second cup for late afternoon.
All Babies React Differently
Every baby is unique and some may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you are nursing a preemie, you might consider cutting caffeine out altogether as baby’s system is already working extra hard. Although many experts suggest that caffeine may have little effect on babies, why take a chance that caffeine is going to affect baby’s behaviour or sleeping patterns.
How About a cup of Decaf?
A small cup of coffee contains about 130 mg of caffeine, compared to decaffeinated which contains about 3 mg. Try switching one or more of your daily cups of coffee or tea to decaffeinated. If you switch to herbal tea, be sure to read the label as many green teas contain caffeine.
Too Much Caffeine Could Ruin Your Routine
There are other reasons to limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a diuretic and it dehydrates you. Breastfeeding is already depleting your body of fluids. This makes you thirsty and tired which can make it tempting to reach for a familiar cup of coffee to stay awake. Just as baby needs rest, so do you. If you are wide awake when the caffeine kicks in, you won’t be able to catch some much-needed zzz’s when baby falls asleep.