5 Signs to Cut Back Caffeine While Breastfeeding

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While it is generally considered safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding, there are a few things to look out for. There is no doubt that caffeine can give you a much needed “boost” when you have a new baby. However, it’s important to be aware of how caffeine can affect both mom and baby.

While there are many lactation drinks that can help with producing more breast milk. One area many breastfeeding moms struggle with is keeping energy levels up. So it’s natural to turn to caffeine filled beverages like coffee, or energy drinks as a way to get more energy to power through a day of mom life.

But how do you know when you are over doing it with caffeine? We’ll discuss the signs to look for in yourself and signs to look for in baby so that you can safely consume caffeine while breastfeeding.

Plus we’ll share some alternatives to caffeinated drinks as well.

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How Much Caffeine when Breastfeeding is Too Much?

For a healthy, non-pregnant or non-breastfeeding adult, it is recommended not to consume any more than 400mg of caffeine daily. This is equivalent to 4 – 5 cups of coffee. For a breastfeeding mother, according to La Leche League, it is recommended to stay within 200mg – 300mg of caffeine consumption daily.

This is equivalent to 3-4 cups of coffee, or about 2 grande Mocha Frappuccinos.

Caffeine and the Body

“Caffeine is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and the body”, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

It gives an energetic boost to the central nervous system and muscles, and is also known to increase the metabolic rate. Caffeine can help boost one’s mood along with mental and physical performance.

Caffeine Tolerance

Everyone’s body has different tolerance when it comes to most things. Some people are highly sensitive to caffeine, while others are not.

It is important for breastfeeding moms to keep a close eye on baby’s body behaviors as well as her own to determine your own caffeine tolerance.

5 Signs to Cut Back Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Here are the things your want to look out for that may be signals you need to cut back on caffeine while nursing

1 – Increased Anxiety

  • Caffeine, a stimulant drug, is proven to increase blood pressure.
  • Consequently, you may begin to experience anxiety, nervousness, or the jitters.

2 – Trouble Sleeping

  • The central nervous system is primarily impacted when consuming caffeine.
  • This can cause trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or reaching a deep state of REM sleep.

3 – Stomach Aches

  • Because it is so acidic, coffee additionally affects your gut. Laxative properties are an outcome of the acidic properties.
  • This can cause heartburn, cramping, indigestion, and diarrhea.

4 – Frequent Urination

  • Caffeine can act as a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration.
  • This happens through frequent urination and can be minimized with snacking while consuming caffeine.

5 – Headaches

  • Moderate caffeine is often utilized to relieve a minor headache.
  • Additionally, it can create longer lasting headaches throughout the day.
  • Often these are withdrawal symptoms which are a result of too much caffeine consumption followed up by lack of caffeine consumption.
Mom holding baby and drinking coffee while working on laptop.

Some breastfeeding mothers also notice a decrease in milk supply when over consuming caffeine.

These are important signs and symptoms that your body will begin to experience when overloaded with caffeine.

Experiencing 2 or more of these symptoms is a good sign that you may need to cut back or eliminate caffeine for awhile.

Though you should not necessarily wait to show these symptoms before cutting back caffeine while breastfeeding.

Caffeine while Breastfeeding and Baby

Very little caffeine actually passes to baby through breastmilk.

In fact, only 1% of caffeine is passed to your baby through breast milk. Almost no caffeine will be detected in baby’s urine once breastfed.

If you choose to consume caffeinated beverages, it’s a good practice to breastfeed at least 2-3 hours after ingesting caffeine so as to avoid any affects on baby.

And if you pump, mark stored breastmilk as caffeinated so as to not feed it to baby at night.

Observe Your Baby

While the amount of caffeine your baby receives is minimal, it is important to observe your baby.

Caffeine consumption while breastfeeding can affect your baby’s behavior. Monitor your baby for signs to cut back caffeine while breastfeeding.

Remember, just like in adults, some babies can tolerate caffeine well, while others will demonstrate problems with even very small amounts.

Each baby is unique, even within families, so watch your baby for signs.

This breastfeeding tracking log is a good way to keep track of baby’s feedings and any symptoms.

5 Signs in Baby to Cut Back Caffeine While Breastfeeding

These are common symptoms in babies who do not tolerate caffeine well:

  1. Irritability
  2. Fussiness
  3. Wakefulness
  4. Jitteriness
  5. Poor sleep patterns

If you see any of these symptoms in your breastfed baby and consume caffeine like coffee, or energy drinks, consider eliminating it for awhile and see if baby’s symptoms are reduced.

Many babies also get acid reflux as a result of too much caffeine. Learn more about foods to avoid when breastfeeding baby with acid reflux.

Ways to Cut Back Caffeine when Breastfeeding

It can become difficult to eliminate drinking caffeine daily using the “cold turkey” method. Rather cut back slowly over a few day period.

Simply cutting back to 1 cup of coffee a day may be enough for some moms and babies. Or even switching from coffee to green tea while breastfeeding, for less caffeine.

For others, eliminating caffeine completely may be the best solution to alleviated symptoms.

Then once you’ve eliminated caffeine, give a warm cup of caffeine-free lactation tea or decaf coffee a try instead of regular coffee.

Protein shakes while breastfeeding are another good option for boosting energy without caffeine. This one is super helpful for milk supply, weight loss and having more energy.

Read labels and make sure you are informed of your caffeine intake; the rest will follow.

More caffeine free drinks for breastfeeding moms

Check out our full list of drinks that increase milk supply here.

The Bottom Line

Ingesting caffeine while breastfeeding can make an impact on your baby. However, caffeine and breastfeeding are safe in moderation and with considerations.

For some there will be side effects even when drinking with the recommended limit. So be sure to pay attention to both signs in you and your baby to help ensure an easier breastfeeding experience.

What’s your experience with caffeine and breastfeeding? Did you give it up or drink in moderation? Have you notice any affects on your baby after drinking caffeine? Share with in the comments below!

More on Breastfeeding Diet

Breastfeeding Diet Tips (Wish I’d Known the 1st Time)

Menu for Breastfeeding Mothers (One Week – Every Meal + Snacks)

What to Eat When Breastfeeding

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