Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding? Here’s What to Know

Tired mother drinking coffee while she holds her baby

Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding? Here’s What to Know

Motherhood can be one of the most rewarding challenges of life, but with it comes natural exhaustion. New moms are expected to tend to their baby’s needs at any moment of the day, which can make it difficult to get proper rest and a good night’s sleep. Because of this, most mothers turn to coffee or other caffeinated beverages to keep energy levels up and maintain momentum to get through each day.

While caffeine can certainly be a lifesaver for tired moms, it can also pose a concern for baby’s wellness if you’re breastfeeding. There’s a possibility that the caffeine passes through the breastmilk and negatively affects your baby, causing restlessness and other similar issues. 

Understanding how much caffeine is acceptable when you’re drinking coffee while breastfeeding can help you avoid irritability in your baby and give you peace of mind as well. Let’s take a closer look at how drinking caffeine while breastfeeding can impact your little one, plus natural energy-boosting tips and tricks to consider instead.

The Role of Coffee and Caffeine in Breastfeeding

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases brain and nervous system activity while circulating hormones like cortisol and adrenaline throughout the body. It enters the body through the stomach and ends up in the bloodstream within a few hours. 

In most, caffeine can help boost energy and alertness. In others, it may cause feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Caffeine intake impacts everyone differently.

If there’s caffeine in your bloodstream, it may end up in your breast milk as well and transfer to the baby while breastfeeding. And since caffeine impacts everyone differently, the same can be said about your baby.

How Can Caffeine Impact My Baby?

Up until three months of age, infants cannot metabolize caffeine. This means they’ll have a difficult time breaking it down in their bodies, making it accumulate over time. With high levels of caffeine in the body, babies can react poorly. Some of the signs that your baby may be impacted by caffeine consumption include:

  • Restlessness
  • Fussiness
  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble staying asleep

How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Breastfeeding?

Because of the reasons listed above, it’s important to monitor your caffeine intake until you’re done breastfeeding. Drinking caffeinated beverages while breastfeeding is generally safe, just as long as you limit your intake. 

Experts recommend that nursing mothers consume no greater than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day while nursing, as breast milk can contain trace elements of caffeine. For reference, a typical cup of coffee contains around 96 milligrams of caffeine. So if you’re wondering how much coffee you can drink while breastfeeding, you should stick to a few cups a day. 

Here’s what to expect in terms of caffeine content in other common caffeinated beverages: 

  • Shot of espresso: 64 mg of caffeine
  • Green tea: 28 mg of caffeine
  • Bottled tea: 19 mg of caffeine
  • Soda: 22 mg of caffeine
  • Energy drinks: 71.9 mg of caffeine
Mom reading in bed with a cup of coffee and fruits while baby naps besides her

Natural Ways to Boost Your Energy

If you’re interested in limiting your caffeine intake to moderate amounts, or you’re interested in cutting it out completely, here are some natural methods for boosting energy to consider instead.

  • Prioritize good sleep and rest. This can be a hard task to achieve as a mother, but do your best to aim for quality sleep when you can get it.
  • Hydrate. Dehydration can take a toll on your energy levels, and it can also have an impact on your breast milk supply! Stay hydrated to boost your energy levels and keep baby well fed.
  • Keep stress levels at bay. Stress can take a significant toll on your energy levels, especially as a mother. Prioritize time for yourself spent doing the things you enjoy and getting yourself to a healthy mental space. This will be beneficial for both you and your baby! 

Other Helpful Tips and Tricks

Limiting your caffeine intake is the best way to reduce the chance of caffeine entering your baby via your breastmilk. If you’re having trouble cutting caffeine out of your diet altogether, consider the following tips:

  • Be mindful of how long caffeine stays in the body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, caffeine peaks in your blood about an hour after consumption, and can remain at this level for hours; even six hours later, half of the amount of caffeine in your coffee or other caffeinated beverage may still be in your bloodstream. Better understanding how long caffeine stays in your system can help you determine when and if you should drink a cup of coffee before a breastfeeding session.
  • Monitor your baby’s reaction to caffeine. Not all babies react the same way to caffeine. Better tuning into your baby’s reaction after you’ve consumed a caffeinated beverage and continued breastfeeding can give you an idea of whether it’s smart to abstain.
  • Talk to your doctor or pediatrician about your caffeine intake. Babies aren’t the only ones who react differently to caffeine — adults do, too! Talk to your doctor or pediatrician about your caffeine intake concerns to get a better idea if you’re on the right track or need to cut back. 

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