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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Can I Drink Caffeine While Breastfeeding?

Can I Drink Caffeine While Breastfeeding?    l   #caffeine #breastfeeding“Can I really drink caffeine while breastfeeding?” Here, hold on—let me put down my coffee while I answer this.

The short and easy answer is yes, you can.

The long answer gets a little more involved, and requires you pay attention to your intake and your baby’s behavior. Only you will know your and your baby’s limits.

Many mommies can’t imagine starting their morning without a beloved cup of tea or coffee. Perhaps you drink a soda in the afternoon for a quick pick-me-up. Whatever your reason, it’s important to know how caffeine may affect your child through you.

Factors that affect how your baby handles caffeine while breastfeeding:

  • The age of your baby: Newborns have a more difficult time metabolizing caffeine than older babies. If you try your morning coffee and feel that you see physical symptoms in your young baby (hyper-alertness, wide eyes, difficulty sleeping, agitation), you may choose to wait a month or two before trying again. Premature and sick babies may also seem more easily affected.
  • The amount of caffeine: The commonly accepted amount of caffeine while breastfeeding is touted as “less than 5 cups of coffee.” If you look closely at this amount, it is actually 300-500mg of caffeine per day. That is approximately 12 cans of coke. Under those guidelines, a very typical morning coffee or afternoon soda is safe. However, just because you can have a dozen cokes doesn’t mean you should.
  • The time of day:  If not drinking caffeine is not an option for you, try limiting your intake to early in the morning (so as not to negatively affect night time sleep.) The half-life of caffeine is around 6 hours, so if you drink your coffee at 8am, half of the effective caffeine volume is still in your blood at 2pm. This can become a problem if you decide on a 4pm espresso shot.
  • Other factors: Chocolate, cigarettes, teas, and some medications behave like caffeine in the infant bloodstream, or may contain caffeine outright. Be sure to factor in any of these items when evaluating your caffeine consumption.

If you feel like your baby may be sensitive or is having issues with caffeine, you can try lowering your caffeine intake significantly and monitor how things change. It is important to keep in mind that most people will experience a caffeine withdrawal headache if cutting back too abruptly, so it may be beneficial to wean down slowly rather than cutting all caffeine out completely. In my personal experience, I found it easiest to start out with a very small amount of coffee (a 1/2 cup a day) and slowly increase my consumption as my babies grew older.

There is no doubt that you can drink caffeine while breastfeeding, but just keep in mind that every baby and every mother is different—the amount you find acceptable will be entirely specific to you and your nursling. And, while we’re discussing drinking: ever wondered if you can drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

Do you drink caffeine while breastfeeding?

Mandy is the mother to four year old Ronan, two year old Ruby and ten month old Ryder in the Carolinas.  She is passionate about birth, breastfeeding and gentle parenting.  She believes strongly in the power of honesty, and supporting all mothers.  She also blogs at Honest Mothering and can be followed on Twitter or Instagram.

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