In honor of National Coffee Day, we are going to tackle this tough question. Lack of sleep is a common occurrence for new moms, especially during the early days. It is easy to reach for a cup of coffee as a pick me up, but many women wonder if caffeine is safe if they are breastfeeding. Read on as we discuss how mother’s coffee affects her breastmilk and breastfeeding caffeine levels.
Is it safe?
The short answer is yes, it is safe for mom to drink coffee while breastfeeding. According to La Leche League, caffeine does pass into breastmilk, but the breastfeeding caffeine level is approximately 1.5% of the amount mom ingested. Breastfeeding caffeine levels peak one to two hours after ingestion, so it is important to time your coffee breaks accordingly. It is also worth noting that it takes approximately 97.5 hours to half the concentration of caffeine in a newborn’s body versus 4.9 hours for adults.
Every baby is different
Studies have shown most moms would need to drink five or more five-ounce cups of coffee (750 mL) before affecting their baby. However, just as adults are affected differently by the same dose of caffeine, babies are each unique in their tolerances. It is impossible to know a baby’s tolerance ahead of time. Some moms can load up on caffeine without any affect to their baby. Other moms will barely have one cup of coffee and their baby is awake for hours. The point is, while you can’t know your baby’s tolerance to caffeine, you may be able to see the effects of breastfeeding caffeine levels on your baby.
If you have a fussy or restless baby and you are drinking caffeine, consider cutting your caffeine intake for two weeks or drinking smaller amounts. Remember, decaf doesn’t mean caffeine free, just that it has much lower caffeine levels. Keep in mind that coffee is not the only source of caffeine that can affect breastfeeding caffeine levels. Colas, pain relievers, cold medicines, and other medications can all contain caffeine so check all labels if you are cutting out caffeine. As a baby’s liver grows, they will be more able to process caffeine and larger amounts may be ingested without effect.