If you cut out caffeine intake while you were pregnant, you may have been looking forward to rekindling that relationship with your morning mug. The problem is that if you’re nursing, you’ll be feeding your baby café au lait every time you indulge in an espresso. Does that mean all caffeine is off-limits while you are breastfeeding? The answer most of us have heard is that coffee, tea, chocolate and soda are OK “in moderation,” but in actuality it depends on a number of factors, including…
…your baby’s age
Newborns can’t easily break down and dispose of caffeine, and it can accumulate in their system, resulting in irritability and sleep problems. By 3 months, though, caffeine in reasonable amounts is less likely to have a negative impact on your baby.
Caffeine usually peaks in your breastmilk supply a few hours after you’ve drank it. So if you were hoping to nurse your baby to sleep in time for her 10 a.m. nap, your morning joe may result in an entirely different agenda.
…your caffeine intake
The total amount of caffeine you’re taking in—and add up the chocolate, the black and green tea, the diet sodas and energy drinks, the coffee and even coffee-infused desserts like coffee ice cream—shouldn’t exceed 300 mg a day. (That’s less caffeine than what’s in a 16 oz. cup of Starbucks.)
…your coffee cup
Even though there’s more caffeine in an espresso per oz. than there is in brewed coffee, if you’re drinking a large cup of coffee, more caffeine-spiked liquid will be entering your breastmilk supply.
Not every baby is sensitive to caffeine. You might be able to get away with more than 300 mg of caffeine a day, with a younger-than-3-months infant, if you don’t notice signs of irritability and sleeplessness. Unlike alcohol and medications, caffeine isn’t going to cause long-term damage…just, possibly, a very cranky baby who won’t nap.
…your own energy levels
It seems cruel, doesn’t it? The time when you need to be most alert coincides with both sleep deprivation and the need to limit caffeine. But, you might find that this is a non-issue and you can skip coffees and teas altogether and energize with natural boosts such as vitamin B and spirulina instead—both are safe for pregnant and nursing women!