Picture this: the alarm goes off after yet another sleepless night and you head to the kitchen, intent on skipping the mug and drinking that coffee straight out of the pot….but you are forced to stop short because you’ve heard that nursing moms aren’t supposed to have caffeine. What the what?
Try to keep it under 400 mg
The Long Version: On our caffeine research quest, we found that different sources suggest different exact limits on how much caffeine a breastfeeding woman should drink. They do agree, however, that you should keep your caffeine intake moderate to help keep you and your baby healthy, happy, and sleeping well (or as well as possible).
Side Note: During pregnancy, experts have advised moderation in caffeine intake to avoid dehydration, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate in the mother as well as changes in the sleep and movement patterns of the baby. However, there is some disagreement in what qualifies as “moderate,” with some sources saying as high as 300mg per day is safe, while other sources recommend a limit of 150 mg per day. If you want to stay on the safe side, stick to 1.5 cups of regular brewed coffee during pregnancy (150 mg of caffeine). In this post, we focus mostly on caffeine intake for breastfeeding mamas, but read up here for more information on caffeine during pregnancy.
Let us help you bust some common caffeine myths and find some truths. Here’s what you should know about caffeine and how it affects you, your milk, and your baby:
Truth: Everything in moderation.
Just as with accessories, perfume, and eye makeup, we recommend a “less is more” approach to refilling your coffee mug. We advise not exceeding the recommended limit for an adult which is around 300-400mg. If this is not exact enough for you, you can calculate your individual recommended caffeine limit (to the exact milligram!) here based on your weight.
Myth: Caffeine can seriously harm your baby’s health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has classified caffeine as a “maternal medication usually compatible with breastfeeding.” In addition, Medications and Mothers’ Milk, a comprehensive reference used by health professionals, categorizes caffeine as a level 2 (safer) substance. While there might not be severe health detriments to caffeine intake, too much caffeine can affect babies the same way it affects grown people: making them irritable or not able to sleep well. For more info on caffeine intake during breastfeeding look at these sources.
Myth: Caffeine can decrease milk supply.
Despite the word on the street, no correlation has been found between caffeine intake and decreased milk supply. One study even suggests that caffeine in moderation may even stimulate milk production. You heard us right, tell your other nursing friends the facts (maybe over a moderately sized cup of coffee).
Truth: Caffeine affects different babies differently.
“Different kids, different rules.” This mom-ism holds true for caffeine as well. There is no one answer on how caffeine will affect your baby specifically, so a little trial and error might be necessary. If your caffeine intake is fairly high and you notice that your baby seems to be fussy or jittery, try cutting out or decreasing caffeine and see if you see an improvement.
Your baby’s caffeine sensitivity can fluctuate with age. This means that just because your baby didn’t react well to caffeine when she was a newborn doesn’t necessarily mean that she will react the same way at six months. If you had to cut caffeine out of your diet when your baby was very young, you can try reintroducing it as your baby gets older and is able to metabolize caffeine more easily. You might find that now your baby is totally fine with the occasional mild breast milk cafe latte.
Wait, how much can I have?
We guess that most of you usually don’t measure your caffeine intake milligram by milligram, so we’ve put together this helpful guide:
For more breakdowns of how much caffeine is in your favorite drinks and snacks go here.