New mothers deserve a lot of commendation. They have to give full attention to their needy newborn babies. They have to take care of their postpartum bodies. They need to watch over their homes and balance their careers. They need a boost of energy! Most mothers understandably look to coffee to help them survive these chaotic yet fulfilling times.
Does drinking coffee during breastfeeding affect mothers and babies? Is the baby going to remain awake at night and become irritable during the day, because they took in some caffeine while breastfeeding? This is what you need to know.
How Much Caffeine is Found in Breastmilk
The good news is that only small amounts of caffeine pass through the breastmilk. If you take a moderate amount of coffee (2-3cups in a day), then about 1% of the caffeine passes through to the baby. The levels of caffeine in breastmilk reach their peak after 2 hours. So it is safe to say drinking a cup of coffee right after you have breastfed the baby may not affect the baby. This is because newborns can have a feeding interval of up to 3 hours.
This is also true if you decide to pump breastmilk for the baby. Since the levels of caffeine would still be present in pumped breastmilk, pump the milk at least 3 hours after you have drunk a cup of coffee.
This however is different in mothers who take too much coffee in a day.
Too Much Coffee
Drinking too much coffee while breastfeeding can have a significant effect on babies. Newborn babies can be sensitive to caffeine because it takes them very long to process it. Their fresh little organs like the liver and kidneys are not accustomed to metabolize caffeine, as compared to older babies (6 months old).
Caffeine in large amounts can cause the baby to be jittery, fussy, colicky, and difficulty sleeping. High amounts of caffeine can also affect the mother. She may experience high anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia. This will affect her general wellbeing and ability to look after her baby.
Solution for Coffee Addiction
If you find that you have to heavily rely on coffee while breastfeeding, include other healthier habits in your daily routine to spike your energy levels. For example;
- Increase your water intake.
Water helps to flush out toxins in your body and helps you to remain hydrated especially while breastfeeding. A hormone known as oxytocin is normally released during breastfeeding. It is responsible for that sudden thirsty feeling experienced during breastfeeding. Reach out for a warm glass of water instead of a cup of coffee. This helps to reduce the number of cups of coffee you take throughout the day.
- Remain physically active.
Many breastfeeding mothers rely on coffee to feel alert and active to get through their swamped days. But moderate exercises can be more beneficial. Exercises can help alleviate low/ stressful moods, leaving you relaxed and alert. Improved emotional well-being may increase milk supply.
Remember to rinse your breasts after exercising so that the baby cannot be put off by the sweaty taste as they feed. Also, be sure to get a go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising.
The caffeine effect is different for every mother and baby. This is highly dependent on how much coffee the mother used to take while pregnant. Observe keenly how your little one behaves upon coffee intake and make the necessary adjustments.
Caffeine in other drinks
It is important to note that caffeine is not only found in coffee. Hot chocolate, black tea, energy drinks, sodas all contain considerable amounts of caffeine. If you are thinking of adding or substituting your coffee intake, be aware that you could be increasing caffeine levels in your breastmilk.
Other non-caffeinated alternatives can be of great benefit to you and your baby. They may include;
- Bone broth
This is a great addition or alternative to your hot drinks. It helps to increase bone density that is mostly lost during pregnancy. It supports the healing of your body from the birthing process and may increase your milk supply.
- Herbal teas
There are many different types of herbal teas. Some have even been specifically blended for lactation mothers. Some of the common herbs found therein are; Fenugreek, Fennel, Stinging nettle, Moringa, and Milk thistle. You can choose from this variety of herbal teas according to your liking. They have amazing benefits including hydration, relaxation, antioxidation, and increased milk supply.
Drinking moderate amounts of coffee while breastfeeding may not harm your baby. About 2-3 cups of coffee in a day are generally safe while breastfeeding.
Look out for any change in behavior in your baby to determine how much coffee you can include in your diet.
If you take too much coffee in a day (more than 3 cups), include other great alternatives like exercise and water to increase your energy. Explore other non-caffeinated drinks such as bone broth, herbal teas and get more health benefits while breastfeeding.