If you’re a new mother – congratulations! That early time with your precious new arrival is magical, but can often also be a time when mums can feel exhausted and sleep deprived. There is plenty to keep you busy – from deciding between reusable and disposable nappies to getting your head around breastfeeding. So - is it ok to rely on your usual caffeine fix to keep you going or should it be off the menu?
How much is safe?
The good news is that it’s perfectly safe to enjoy coffee in moderation when breastfeeding. Additionally, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that drinking coffee impacts negatively on milk production.
Though the caffeine mothers consume does end up in breast milk, most research indicates that the amount is less than 1% of what you ingest. It’s generally believed that if you have up to about 200mg of caffeine per day, there are unlikely to be any adverse effects on your baby.
In practical terms, though, how many cups of coffee are okay? Of course, it very much depends on the strength of your coffee, but as a rough guide: The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting intake to three cups daily whereas La Leche League says that up to five cups a day is absolutely fine.
Best not to overdo it, though
In general, a mother can have up to three caffeinated drinks per day without affecting her breastfed baby. Drinking more than that, however, can lead to unsettled behaviour, colic, and constipation in babies. The younger the baby, the longer it takes for caffeine to clear his or her system. Some very young babies can be sensitive to their mother’s caffeine intake, particularly if she avoided coffee during her pregnancy. In this instance, it may be wise to ease up or opt for decaffeinated coffee for a while.
The amount of caffeine in a mother’s milk supply peaks about 1-2 hours after it has been consumed. If you drink more than one cup a day, it’s a good idea to minimize the amount in your breast milk at any one time by spreading your coffee intake over the course of the day. Another good tip is to knock up a delicious creamer at home that you can add to your coffee to dilute the caffeine.
Many powerful health benefits to drinking coffee
Don’t forget that coffee actually has a lot going for it on the health front. The list of positives is a very long one! In terms of physical benefits, coffee contains antioxidants, can relieve headaches, raise good cholesterol (HDL), reduce inflammation, prevent dental decay, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s disease, protect against MRSA, reduce the risk of various types of cancer and even prolong your life. It can reduce the risk of depression & stress and improve concentration. There are exercise benefits too; coffee can help boost metabolism, provide energy before a workout and promote weight loss.
So the good news is that there is no need to abandon your coffee habit while you are breastfeeding as your baby is unlikely to be affected by your daily pick-me-up. Feel free to relish your cup of coffee as you enjoy picking out adorable outfits for your new arrival without a worry.