You’ve had to give up your daily ritual of drinking coffee for nine months. Now your baby has arrived and its time to celebrate. The time of quitting coffee cold turkey has ended.
But then you remember you are going to breastfeed your baby and you start to break out in a cold sweat. Because you know that you will need a pick-me-up while caring for your newborn, but obviously you don’t want to do anything to endanger your little one.
You wonder if drinking coffee while breastfeeding is safe for your baby. So, you can go back to your daily coffee ritual and keep your sanity. Which is especially important with a brand-new baby.
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Drinking Coffee While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?
Short answer: Yes.
As long as you consume caffeine in moderation it is perfectly safe. The caffeine that you eat and drink does end up in your breast milk.
But research shows that less than one percent of it shows up in your breast milk. (1) This means that normally the amount is so small, it does not get passed on to your baby. But that being said some babies are more sensitive to caffeine than others.
Just in case your baby is more sensitive to caffeine, you might want to time your caffeine consumption so you are not drinking coffee or tea right before or during breastfeeding or pumping. (2) This will give your body time to work out the caffeine so by the time your baby is hungry and you need to feed them, the caffeine will be completely out of your system.
Keep in mind that about 2 hours after breastfeeding the caffeine in your breast milk will peak. (3) So, if your baby goes longer than 2 hours between feedings then have your cup of coffee right after a feeding or right before you feed your baby.
Caffeine Consumption While Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you consume no more than 3 cups of coffee. Which comes out to be 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. The average 8 oz cup of coffee contains 95-165 mg of caffeine and an 8 oz cup of black tea contains 25-48 mg. (4)
Even if you were to drink more than the recommended 300 mg, it is unlikely to harm your baby. If your baby isn’t sensitive to caffeine than it would take an extreme amount to cause jitteriness and fussiness. An amount of more than 10 cups of coffee in one day.
If your baby is part of the sensitive group, then you might notice them becoming fussy, jittery, irritable, hyper, or wide awake after a few cups of coffee. If this happens, then you will want to cut back and see if there is an improvement.
Drinking more than four cups a day can lead to unpleasant side effects for you as well. They can include:
- trouble sleeping
- frequent urination
- upset stomach
- rapid heart rate
- muscle tremors
Risks to Mama or Baby
Studies have shown that there are no significant risks to you or to your baby.
There are people that believe that the acids in coffee lower the iron content in breast milk, though no recent studies confirm this. (5) Breast milk is naturally low in iron, but babies need iron to develop, so you might want to talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
Other Caffeine Sources
Coffee is not the only source of caffeine. If you are concerned about your caffeine consumption or if you notice that your baby is exhibiting symptoms of overconsumption of caffeine, then you should be aware of other caffeine enriched beverages food, or other sources. Some of these sources include:
- Energy Drinks
- Sports Drinks
- Flavored Water
- Carbonated Soda
- Matcha has a higher content of caffeine than regular green tea.
- Some teas are caffeine-free. Be sure to read the label.
- Pain Relievers
- Medicine for Menstrual Relief
- Weight-Loss Supplements
Is it Necessary to “Pump and Dump” After Drinking Coffee?
Pumping and dumping is something that is usually talked about in reference to drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. The idea is that you pump out the milk that might be impacted by a potentially harmful substance such as alcohol or coffee.
But that is not what pumping is intended to be used for. It is meant to preserve your supply when you don’t want to breastfeed your baby at a certain time or when you need to relieve pressure because your baby didn’t eat enough milk.
Pumping doesn’t actually remove any substances from your milk. You need to let the caffeine metabolize naturally from your milk. That can take some time.
5 Natural Ways to Feel More Energetic
It is difficult for a new mom (or really a mom in general) to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. So it is natural to want a pick-me-up. Right there with you, mama.
But sometimes it is in your best interest to find natural ways to get more energy. Like if your baby is sensitive to caffeine.
1. Drink More Water
Did you know that a breastfeeding woman should try to drink 13 cups of water a day? (6)
Drinking water will make you feel more hydrated. Since one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired, drinking more water will make you feel more energized.
The last thing on your mind is probably exercising when you feel exhausted. Exercise is not only great at improving your mood, the endorphins you feel will make you feel energized. It might also improve the quality of your sleep.
Once you have been approved by your doctor to exercise, you should aim at getting 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.
3. Eat Right
Nutrition is especially important when breastfeeding. It is recommended that you eat an additional 500 calories on top of a 2,000 calorie diet.
But this will vary depending on your weight and activity levels. Eating enough and well can improve your milk supply and help with your energy level.
4. Tame Your To-Do List
Try to prioritize your to-do list so you can focus your energy on self-care for yourself and bonding with your baby. During the first year of your baby’s life, you should take your friends and family on their offers to help you out. This will lighten your mental and physical load.
5. Connect with Friends and Family
It is easy to accidentally isolate yourself in the early days of your baby’s life when you are feeling tired and your baby is constantly feeding. Getting out of the house to see your friends or family will boost your mood, let you feel less lonely, and will make you feel energized.
So good news, mama. Drinking coffee while breastfeeding is perfectly safe. You can have your daily coffee pick-me-up as long as you don’t drink more than 300 milligrams, which usually around 3 cups. If you notice your baby is sensitive to caffeine and is feeling the effects, try drinking less coffee to see if your baby improves.
Do you drink coffee while breastfeeding? Or any caffeine beverage in general?