Caffeine and Breastfeeding: Is it Safe?

Page content

Can I have caffeine while breastfeeding? Will it affect my baby? How much caffeine can I have? These are some very common questions asked by new mothers. The need for strong coffee and caffeine is high after a sleepless night of tending to a newborn. However, many mothers question and worry if it is safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding.

Is Caffeine Safe During Breastfeeding?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has approved breastfeeding caffeine consumption in moderation, although it is important to note that decreased iron in breastmilk has been associated with caffeine. While breastfeeding, you should reduce your consumption of caffeine every day and limit it to 700 mg or less per day.

Only about one percent of the caffeine in the bloodstream mixes with the breastmilk, but as more caffeine is consumed, the percentage that mixes with the breastmilk increases. A baby’s body isn’t used to caffeine, so it can be very hard for it to break it down and excrete it. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also build up in the system of a baby over time which can cause adverse health affects. A mother may be used to excess amounts of caffeine, but a baby isn’t.

Some babies may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If a baby is under six months and was not exposed to caffeine during pregnancy, then the baby will be more likely to react. If you consume over 300 mg per day, your baby may show signs of caffeine sensitivity. Symptoms of a baby effected by caffeine is small but painstaking.

  • Active: A baby will appear more active and awake.
  • Restlessness: The baby will not be easy to put to sleep. This symptom can be especially hard to deal with because it will cause more sleep depravation for the mother.
  • Wide-eyes: Eyes will be wide, open and alert.
  • Fussiness: A common symptom of caffeine sensitivity is fussiness. The baby will cry more than usual. This fussiness may not be easily soothed with milk or interaction.

Keep in mind that a baby will become desensitized to caffeine as he or she gets older. So, if your baby is sensitive to caffeine at one point, he or she may be more tolerant a few months later. Newborns are especially sensitive to caffeine. The right balance for caffeine is different for each woman and baby. If your baby shows symptoms of sensitivity to caffeine then lower down your caffeine intake for a few weeks. However, do not harm your body by cutting off caffeine abruptly. Slowly wean yourself off caffeine so headaches and irritability is avoided.

Sources of Caffeine

The most common sources of caffeine is coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and ice cream. Amounts of caffeine in the product depends on the serving size and the brand. Always look at the nutritional label to inform yourself of caffeine content. For example, a basic coffee will typically have 102 to 200 mg of caffeine. Caffeine is in products that you would never suspect. Headache and cold medicines can contain caffeine, and even herbal products have been known to have some. Experts say that about 300 mg per day is safe, but it is commonly said that 300 to 750 mg is the safe limit. Finding the safe balance for you and your baby is important.