Can Coffee Be Your Secret Weapon While Breastfeeding?
By the time your baby is born, if you are anything like I was, you are looking forward to bringing back in those food and drinks that you had to give up or reduce while pregnant. I was ready to have a glass of wine, some brie cheese, sushi and an ice coffee! I did still have a bit of coffee when I was pregnant, but I am not an everyday coffee drinker to begin with, so it was more limited. Last week I discussed how much coffee is safe in pregnancy if you missed it, click here.
Back to breastfeeding. Although I wasn’t an everyday coffee drinker before getting pregnant, I did start to enjoy my morning coffee in bed, with my vanilla coconut creamer while feeding Harvey. It was a nice way to relax, after a night of not really sleeping, and quickly became part of our routine. It is easy for coffee to become a crutch for new moms. You are bone tired, and have a foggy head, and that morning hit of caffeine can really help you get through the day. There is a reason that coffee is so synonymous with “mom culture”
Coffee and Breastfeeding, Is It Safe?
The short answer is yes. Some caffeine does end up in the breastmilk, but your body metabolizes most of it before it gets there, so your breastmilk will only contain about 1% of the amount of caffeine that you drank. The suggested amount of caffeine for breastfeeding moms is 300 mg or less, which correlates to 2-3 8 oz cups of coffee. Keep in mind that babies under 6 months of age take longer to metabolize caffeine, so it is likely better to keep it to 2 cups and under until that time.
Coffee and Colic, Reflux, and Fussiness
The evidence isn’t very strong either for or against coffee and reflux, colic and fussiness but countless moms in my practice have noticed that there is a correlation with their coffee consumption and their babies comfort levels. The best way to assess this is via trial and error. Try eliminating coffee from your diet for 1 week see if you notice any significant changes to your baby’s behavior.
Coffee and Eczema
Eczema is near and dear to my heart, following our battle with extreme eczema with my son (blog posts on this to follow). Eczema can definitely be exacerbated by coffee. Again, trial and error is the way to figure this out. Coffee was one of the many things I eliminated during my 12-week total elimination diet. I found that I really missed it for the first week, and then became rather indifferent. I have since reintroduced coffee and have not found it to be a factor in his eczema.
It’s Not All About Baby…What Coffee Does to Moms
Coffee can be a great tool to help moms increase alertness, think more clearly, have a relaxing ritual or summon the energy to kick start the day. It’s all about getting coffee to work for you and not against you. How can it work against you? Plenty of ways!
- Tired but Wired- This is one of the most common descriptions I hear from moms in my practice. By the end of the day they are exhausted, but too wired to go to sleep. One thing that can contribute to this is drinking coffee too late in the day. Coffee has an average half life of 5-6 hours in the body. Some people though are slow metabolizers, so it takes their bodies longer to eliminate coffee, even up to 12 hours. For this reason, I always suggest finishing your last cup of coffee by noon.
- Sleep Disruption- If you are drinking coffee later in the day, especially if you are a slow metabolizer, you will not be getting into a deep state of sleep. With children likely already waking you up all night, you don’t need another thing compromising your sleep.
- Taxing to Adrenal Glands- Your adrenal glands are like the batteries for your body. Too much coffee drains your batteries. You are stealing tomorrow’s energy for today and you can only do that for so long before your bank account runs out of money! I covered extensively how to best support your adrenal glands in this blog post
- Reduces Your Iron Stores- Iron is a critical nutrient for energy levels. Iron stores are depleted during pregnancy to provide for the baby and can be further reduced from blood loss during birth. When you are breastfeeding, iron is also supplied to your baby via your milk. For all of these reasons, I always suggest breast feeding moms continue taking their prenatal vitamins for the duration of breastfeeding to help support iron levels. Iron and coffee don’t mix. If you take your prenatal at the same time as you have your morning coffee, which I know so many moms do, tannins in the coffee bind to the iron and make it less available to be absorbed. How can you get around this? Take your prenatal at least 1-2 hours away from having a cup of coffee. Same goes for tea, as tannins are present in teas as well.
So, there you have it. When it comes to coffee and breastfeeding it is not all about the baby, we need to be concerned for mom’s well being as well. If you apply the info from above, you will be well on your way to being able to enjoy your morning cup of joe without experiencing any of the downfalls.
Do you drink coffee while breastfeeding? How many cups? Post in the comments below
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out
Dr Alexis practices via telemedicine and is currently accepting new patients. Click here to schedule your appointment.