Caffeine and Breastfeeding
The good news is most breastfeeding mothers can drink caffeine in moderation, yay!!
Some babies, particularly those under 6 months, may be more sensitive to mum’s coffee drinking. This can be more obvious if you avoided coffee during pregnancy.
Excessive caffeine consumption can result in a baby who shows signs of caffeine stimulation. This is usually in mums who drink more than approx. 300mg a day (2/3 cups of coffee). Your baby may seem irritable, fussy, and doesn’t sleep for long periods. The only way to know if your baby is having too much is to observe their behaviour. This can certainly be tricky in the newborn period when you feel they are often unsettled.
If your baby seems particularly wakeful or fussy and there is a significant amount of caffeine in your diet, maybe try and cut back or stop the caffeine for 2-3 weeks to see if it makes a difference. Just a reminder it can take up to a week for the caffeine to get out of your system and for you to notice a change.
Interesting Fact - the amount of caffeine that gets into a mother’s breastmilk is about 1% of what she takes in and the caffeine level in her breastmilk usually reaches a peak about 60 minutes after she has consumed it. Hopefully that helps so you can try and time your coffee fix around the nap schedule.
Half life of Caffeine
Newborn – up to 97.5 hours
3-5 months – approx. 14 hours
6+ months – approx. 2.6 hours
Adult – 4.9 hours
Reference Hale 2017
Ref American Academy of Paediatrics.
Something you may not know is there is no evidence that caffeine decreases milk supply.
Interestingly mums who suffer from Raynauds may find that too much caffeine aggravates their symptoms.
Don’t forget caffeine is present in other food and drink too, alongside coffee of course. Black and green tea and chocolate are two of the common ones. Have a sweet tooth, try white chocolate ;)
Caffeine content in common drinks and food
Drink/food Caffeine level (mg)
Espresso coffee 145 mg/50 mL shot
Formulated caffeinated drinks / ‘Energy’ Drinks up to 80 mg/250 mL can
Instant coffee (1 teaspoon/cup) 60–80 mg/250mL cup
Tea 10–50 mg/250mL cup
Coca Cola up to 54 mg/375 mL cup
Milk chocolate 20 mg/100 g bar
Takeaway coffee 51–332 mg/serving3
A few cups of coffee a day is approx. 300mg (depending on the size and type of coffee of course). You do not need to drink extra fluids if you drink coffee. Drinking to satisfy thirst is sufficient for most mums to stay hydrated. And guess what? Drinking more fluids is not associated with greater milk production (so the research tells us). Our body is also super clever and can utilize water from many sources, including vegetables, fruit, soup, water, fruit & vegetable
juices, milk, tea and other beverages. The foods that you eat accounts for about one-fifth of total fluid intake.
Quick Wrap up: A Statement from the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA).
"Most breastfeeding mothers can consume a moderate amount of caffeine (eg a few cups of coffee each day) without it affecting their babies. Newborn babies however can be particularly sensitive to caffeine... because it can take a newborn baby a long time to process it."