Caffeine and the Nursing Mom
Recently a mother told me she chose formula feeding over breastfeeding because she “just can’t help having coffee, tea, and chocolate.”
That is one of those myths that many mothers believe are true—unless the mother eat healthy, her breast milk is no better than infant formula, or if the mother drink coffee or tea, her milk does more harm to the babies than formula.
The truth is, however, it is safe to have caffeine while breastfeeding as long as the mother doesn’t over do it. When caffeine enters the mother’s bloodstream, a small amount of it, usually less than 1 percent, ends up in her breast milk. The caffeine amount in her milk peaks a couple of hours after she consume it.
Since a newborn’s body can’t easily break down and get rid of the caffeine, it may accumulate in his system. At about three months, the baby will begin to process caffeine more efficiently, and over time it ill become easier easier for hime to excrete it.
Experts say that a moderate amount of caffeine, which means no more than 300 milligrams per day, or the amount in about 16 ounces of brewed coffee, is fine for nursing moms and should cause no changes in most babies’ behavior. Only when mother drinking more than two or three cups of coffee a day could cause the baby to become irritable, jittery, or agitated.
Many foods contain caffeine, coffee is one, obviously. The amount of caffeine in a serving of coffee varies widely, depending on the type of bean, how it’s roasted, how it’s brewed, and, of course, on the size of the coffee cup. For example, although espresso contains more caffeine per ounce, it’s served in a tint cup, so a full cup of brewed coffee will deliver more caffeine.
To manage the caffeine intake, a mother need to be aware of other sources, like tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and coffee ice cream. Caffeine also shows up in herbal products and over-the-counter drugs, including some headache, cold, and allergy remedies. So read the label carefully.
Below is a chart of amount of caffeine in common beverages, courtesy babycenter.com.
Every baby is different, though. Some babies seem to be bothered when the mother have even a small amount of caffeine. My little one was one of those babies, so I cut caffeine out of my diet for two years. It’s not I love coffee less, but I love my baby more.
TO-WEN TSENG 曾多聞