Having a newborn is exhausting! And the first thing most mums want to do is to pour themselves a large mug of coffee after a night of interrupted sleep.
However, guidelines stipulate that breastfeeding mamas should keep their maximum coffee intake to two cups of coffee a day. Not very helpful when you need cocktail sticks to help prise your eyes open.
But it’s not just the caffeine in coffee nursing mums should be conscious of. Here’s what two experts have to say…
How much caffeine can breastfeeding mums drink?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that when consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system and can help increase energy and alertness, boost the memory and increased concentration. However, too much can cause anxiety and disrupted sleep.
Caffeine does transfer to breast milk but in very low concentrations (0.06%-1.5% of 300mg of caffeine) so will usually not cause any issues but it can accumulate in the infant’s system due to an infant’s limited ability to metabolise it.
Many breastfeeding mothers wonder if they can still enjoy a cup of coffee without affecting their baby’s sleep or health. Good news for coffee lovers – you can opt for decaffeinated coffee as a breastfeeding-friendly alternative! Decaf coffee offers the same comforting aroma and taste, minus the caffeine, making it a suitable choice to savour during your breastfeeding journey.
A baby who is overstimulated with caffeine may appear wide-eyed, active and alert, fussy, be hard to get to sleep and may wake frequently.
“So the best idea is to have your coffee STRAIGHT AFTER breastfeeding, then it ideally is two to three hours away until you are feeding again, so by then, there would be practically no caffeine crossed over by osmosis from your blood-stream to your breastmilk-stream.
“I would tend to limit coffee to two moderate cups a day, or one really decent coffee daily.
“But whatever you do, don’t have it within an hour before feeding – because then you could have quite a hyper baby!”
Watch out for tea, chocolate, soft drinks and ice cream
Caffeine can be found in tea, dark chocolate, energy drinks and coca cola.
“The recommendations are to limit caffeine consumption to 200mg per day while pregnant,” he says.
“The amount of caffeine in coffee will vary, but on average 200mg would be equivalent to two regular cups of coffee a day. A 600ml bottle of coke will contain about 60mg of caffeine.
“A cup of black tea contains less caffeine and can have up to 50mg. Dark chocolate can contain up to 50mg of caffeine per 100mg.”
What’s more, ice creams may contain caffeine and they could have between 10 and 45mg per serving.
Caffeine in energy drinks
Dr Harvey says women often don’t realise they are going over the limit of the amount of caffeine they should be having when it comes to energy drinks.
“The main sources of caffeine in a woman’s diet will come from the usual sources of coffee, tea and chocolate,” he says.
“Energy drinks have typically large amounts of caffeine in them up to 160mg per serve. If a woman is drinking energy drinks she may unknowingly be increasing her caffeine intake above recommended levels.”
Dr Harvey stresses that if you believe you are under the recommended daily intake of 300mg of caffeine, then there is no problem in breastfeeding your baby.
If you like the coffee taste – try The Healthy Mummy coffee flavoured smoothie.
How long does caffeine last in your body?
The half-life of caffeine in your body is about five hours. Meaning in five hours half the caffeine you have consumed will be broken down, reveals Dr Harvey.
“In another 5 hours, half of the remaining caffeine will be further broken down. So as you can see, it can take some time for all caffeine to be out of your body,” he says.
“It really is not feasible for women to try and time caffeine consumption around breastfeeding. As long as you are keeping under the recommended daily intake level, then it is fine to breastfeed and have your cup of coffee.”
Both Dr Harvey and midwife Kathy recommend tired mamas should try boosting their energy levels through consuming complex carbs such as brown rice, wholegrain pasta, bread and starchy vegetables as well as fruit.
“It is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet while pregnant. Apart from this, no specific food groups should be focused on,” adds Dr Harvey.
“It is recommended women who are pregnant or breast feeding take a multivitamin. Fresh fruit are sources of carbohydrates and are important for energy levels.”
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