You don’t need to stop drinking coffee if you’re breastfeeding. Drinking moderate amounts of caffeine — or the equivalent of about two to three 8-ounce cups — each day is unlikely to adversely affect your baby.
Keep in mind that the caffeine content in a cup of coffee can vary depending on the type of coffee bean and brew time. Experts recommend sticking to around 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine as a “safe” level each day.
Read on to learn more about caffeine and breastfeeding.
Caffeine levels peak in breast milk around one to two hours after consumption before tapering off. And very little caffeine actually passes through breast milk when you drink coffee.
According to results from an older study from 1984, between 0.06 to 1.5 percent of the maternal dose of caffeine reaches baby while breastfeeding.
Caffeine is found in other foods and beverages, such as tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and sodas. Remember to include all sources of caffeine when calculating your daily caffeine intake.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics has classed caffeine as a “maternal medication usually compatible with breastfeeding,” it’s still a good idea to limit your intake to 300 milligrams of caffeine or less per day.
If you drink 10 or more cups of coffee each day, you may notice certain side effects in your baby, including:
- poor sleep patterns
Preterm babies and newborns break down caffeine more slowly than older infants. You may see side effects in younger babies after fewer cups of coffee.
Some babies may also be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you notice increased irritability or poor sleep patterns following caffeine consumption, consider reducing your intake or waiting to consume coffee until after feeding your baby.
Too much caffeine may produce unpleasant effects for mom as well. Drinking more than four cups each day may lead to anything from irritability to nervousness or restlessness.
Other side effects may include:
- trouble sleeping
- frequent urination
- upset stomach
- rapid heart rate
- muscle tremors
Does caffeine affect breast-milk supply?
There’s no evidence to support that drinking coffee or caffeine in moderate amounts impacts the amount of breast milk your body makes.
Pumping and dumping is something you may have heard of before, especially 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 caffeine.
In fact, pumping is only used to help preserve your supply if you don’t wish to feed your infant at a given time. This method doesn’t remove substances out of your milk. Instead, you’ll have to wait for the caffeine to naturally metabolize out of your breastmilk.
If you’re concerned about your baby consuming caffeine from your breast milk, remember that caffeine levels in breast milk peak about one to two hours after you’ve had your coffee.
To reduce the risk for passing on caffeine to your baby, have a cup of coffee right before feeding your baby, or, if your baby goes more than 2 hours between feedings, wait to have your coffee until right after you’ve finished feeding baby.
Caffeine amounts can vary dramatically between brands and according to brewing times or other preparation factors. What you might consider a cup of coffee can range in size greatly.
As a result, the caffeine content for “one cup” may range from 30 to 700 mg, depending on how big your cup of coffee is and what type of coffee you’re drinking.
Experts who set the recommendations for caffeine define a cup of coffee as 8 ounces of brewed coffee or 1 ounce of stronger drinks, such as espresso.
What about light, medium, and dark brews?
There may not be as much difference in caffeine between roasts as you might think. It all comes down to how the coffee is measured: light roast beans are denser; dark roast beans have less mass.
If light roasts and dark roasts are measured by volume alone, light roast brews may contain considerably more caffeine. When they’re measured by weight, the caffeine content might be relatively the same.
It can be difficult for new moms to get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night. But masking tiredness with coffee may sometimes worsen the issue.
Here are some other ways you can get a burst of energy in your day without the caffeine.
Drink more water
Increasing your water intake can help keep your body hydrated. It may even make you feel more energetic. After all, one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired.
Breastfeeding women should aim for 13 cups of fluids a day.
Move your body
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling tired, but taking a walk around the block or doing a quick workout video can boost endorphins and lower your stress levels. It may also improve the quality of your sleep.
Once you’re cleared for activity after birth, try getting around 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
Fueling your body with a balanced diet is especially important while breastfeeding.
While recommendations vary based on your weight and activity level, you should aim for an additional 500 calories a day, or a total of between 2,300 to 2,500 calories per day while breastfeeding. Eating enough can help with your energy levels and your milk supply.
Pare down the to-do list
Try to prioritize your to-do list and focus energy on yourself and bonding with your baby. The first year of your baby’s life is an excellent time to take up your friends and family on their offers to help lighten your mental and physical load.
Connect with others
It can be easy to isolate yourself in the early days, especially if your infant is always feeding and you’re tired. Getting out of the house and seeing friends and family can help boost your spirits and energize you.
Grabbing a cup of coffee is a convenient and comforting ritual that you don’t need to give up just because you’re breastfeeding. Keep your intake moderate, around 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine each day.
Most babies will not show adverse side effects with this level of consumption but watch for signs like fussiness, irritability, or poor sleep in your baby and young infants. Adjust your intake accordingly and consider speaking with your doctor or a lactation consultant for additional advice.