When you’re breast-feeding, you’ll need to pay close attention to your diet.

The things you eat and drink can be transferred to your baby through your milk. Women who are breast-feeding are advised to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and certain medications.

You’ve probably heard that tea has less caffeine than coffee, and green tea is considered healthy because of its antioxidants. So is it safe to drink green tea while you’re breast-feeding?

Read on to learn more about the caffeine content of green tea and what doctors recommend for women during breast-feeding.

Breast-Feeding and Caffeine

Doctors don’t recommend giving young children caffeine, and the same goes for babies. While research hasn’t shown any permanent or life-threatening side effects from drinking caffeine during breast-feeding, it certainly can cause issues. Babies exposed to caffeine through breast milk may be more irritable or have trouble sleeping. And nobody wants a fussy baby if it can be avoided.

Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says, “Caffeine can stay in your system for five to 20 hours. If you are taking medications, have higher body fat, or other medical problems, it may stick around longer.”

Caffeine can stay in a newborn’s system much longer than an adult’s system, so you could be dealing with fussiness and sleep problems for quite some time.

Green Tea and Caffeine

Green tea certainly doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee, and you can even get caffeine-free varieties. An 8-ounce serving of regular green tea has about 24 to 45 mg, compared with 95 to 200 mg in brewed coffee.

What’s Considered Safe?

“In general, you can drink one to three cups of green tea a day and not have any harmful effects on your newborn,” explains Dr. Ross. “It’s recommended not to consume more than 300 mg of caffeine a day if you’re breast-feeding.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breast milk contains less than 1 percent of the caffeine taken in by the mom. If you’re not drinking more than three cups, you should be OK.

AAP also notes that after five or more caffeinated drinks is when you may start to notice the baby getting fussy. However, people’s metabolisms process caffeine differently. Some people have a higher tolerance for it than others, and this can hold true for babies as well. It’s a good idea to pay attention to how much you drink and see if you notice any changes in your baby’s behavior based on your caffeine intake.

You should keep in mind that chocolate and soda also contain caffeine. Combining these items with your tea drinking will up your overall caffeine intake.

Alternatives

If you’re worried about getting too much caffeine through your tea, there are caffeine-free options for green tea. Some black teas also naturally contain less caffeine than green teas. Although even caffeine-free products still have small amounts of caffeine, it’ll be significantly less.

Some other low- to caffeine-free teas that are safe to drink while breast-feeding are:

  • white tea
  • chamomile tea
  • ginger tea
  • peppermint tea
  • dandelion
  • rose hips

Takeaway

One or two cups of tea aren’t likely to cause issues. For moms who really need a serious caffeine fix every now and again, it is doable. With a little planning, it’s OK to have that larger serving or extra cup. Pump enough milk to store in the refrigerator or freezer for your baby’s next feedings.

“If you feel as though you have consumed something unsafe for your baby, it’s best to ‘pump and dump’ for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can safely resume breast-feeding,” says Dr. Ross.

Pump and dump refers to pumping your milk supply and getting rid of it without feeding your baby. This way, you work through the milk that might have too much caffeine.

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