Breastfeeding and caffeine intake

Is caffeine safe for breastfeeding mothers and babies?

You are a new mom; you haven’t slept more than two hours in a row for the last week, and now you have to face the day. As you pour a cup of coffee, a thought crosses your bleary mind. Is caffeine safe for my baby? Is this cup of coffee the reason that my baby only sleeps a few hours at a time? Is this the cause of a reduced milk supply?

In terms of milk supply, Michigan State University Extension says that research suggests that caffeine is not a factor in reduction of supply. A baby who is sensitive to caffeine is often jittery and overstimulated which can lead to poor feedings and may result in lowered milk supply.

The majority of breastfeeding mothers can drink caffeine in moderation. There are some babies that may be more sensitive to their mother’s caffeine intake. This is much more common in babies under the age of six months. Often babies grow out of this sensitivity, becoming less sensitive as they get older.

So how do you tell if your baby is sensitive to caffeine? If you consume a significant amount of caffeine and your baby is fussy, wide-eyed and doesn’t sleep for long, you may have a baby that is sensitive to caffeine. What do you do about that?

You may want to cut back or stop consuming caffeine for two to three weeks to see if you notice a change in your baby’s behavior. If your baby is sensitive, it may take a few days or more to see these changes in behavior. In order to cut back on caffeine you first need to determine where the caffeine is in your diet. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, over the counter and prescription medicines as well as in a variety of foods such as chocolate (although generally in much lower amounts). Most experts recommend limiting caffeine to less than 300 milligrams per day if you find your baby is sensitive. Consult your health care provider or lactation support person if you have additional questions regarding breastfeeding and caffeine.

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