Let’s be real… caffeine is sometimes just what you need to get going in the morning after a night of disrupted sleep. So although you probably made it through pregnancy without caffeine, you might want to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the mornings again. But as a nursing mother, you may be concerned about the effects of caffeine on your breastfeeding baby. Here is what you need to know about caffeine and breastfeeding.
Good news… It is generally considered safe to consume caffeine in moderation while breastfeeding.
What does “in moderation” mean? Based on current recommendations, that means no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. As a general rule of thumb, that means up to 16 oz of regular coffee, or up to 24 oz of black tea. Be aware though that the caffeine content can vary widely in coffee and tea, depending on the variety and the brew.
Now even though some caffeine is considered safe, be aware that a small amount (up to 1.5%) of caffeine does pass to your baby through your breastmilk, so it can still have an effect. Everyone is different and just as some adults are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, some infants are very sensitive to any caffeine in their mothers’ diet.
Babies have a slower metabolism and are less able to break down and eliminate caffeine from their bodies, especially newborns and premature infants.
Pay attention to your baby’s behavior after you have had a caffeinated beverage. If you notice that your baby is more fussy, irritable, or has trouble sleeping, you may want to reduce your caffeine intake or avoid caffeine until your baby is older. If you are concerned about symptoms or the effects of caffeine on your breastfeeding baby, speak with your healthcare provider.
Remember, caffeine is not harmful in moderation, up to 300 milligrams per day. Try to have your caffeine-containing beverages earlier in the day, giving the caffeine time to metabolize and clear from your system before you go to bed, so that it doesn’t affect your sleep or your baby’s.
Hopefully this eases your mind if you’re drinking a little caffeine, or helps your decision if you’re thinking about it. Let us know if you have any questions!