While 56% of the population consumes coffee on a regular basis 100% consumes some sort of caffeine whether they realize it or not. Caffeine is a natural plant derivative found in a wide variety of products from pick-me-up favorites such as coffee, tea and energy drinks to sweet tooth delights such as chocolate. Its caffeine’s way of sneaking into some consumables mothers may not think about that makes understanding the effects of caffeine while breastfeeding important.
Does caffeine pass through my milk to my baby while breast feeding?
Caffeine does pass through breast milk to your baby. Current research suggests about 1% of the caffeine in your system passes to your baby while breastfeeding. When tested breast milk showed the highest concentrations of caffeine one hour after consumption by the mother. This means unlike alcohol it may not be effective to simply drink or consume caffeine and wait to breast feed unless the wait time was significantly longer. Caffeine enters the blood stream quickly, peaks at the one hour mark, and begins to dissipate after 3 to 7 hours, but remains in the human body for 6-14 hours depending on the individual and amount consumed.
How much is too much caffeine while breast feeding?
According to AAP breast feeding mothers should not exceed 300 mg of caffeine a day. To give you a rough idea that’s around three 8 oz cups of regular coffee or two 8 oz milk chocolate bars. Exceeding this amount can affect your baby’s health negatively. Some studies have also found that caffeine in excess of 300 mg a day can alter the composition of breast milk reducing iron content by as much as one third.
What effects can caffeine have on my baby while breastfeeding?
Infants process caffeine far slower than adults so with continued regular consumption via cross over from breast milk it can build in the body causing negative health effects such as:
-Gastrointestinal upset including constipation or diarrhea
These affects are said to subside overtime when caffeine levels dissipate. It takes the average newborn 160 hours to metabolize what an adult can in 14 hours. While long term effects have yet to be positively proven some researchers have suggested high caffeine intake may also affect cardiovascular and neurological development.
Is it safe then, to consume caffeine while breast feeding?
It is safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding in moderate amounts not exceeding 300 mg a day. If in excess mothers should wait at least 3-6 hours so caffeine levels have lowered in the blood stream.
You may also find relevant:
Alcohol and Breast Feeding: Is it safe?
Marijuana and Breast Feeding: Is it safe?
Is Formula Feeding Safe: Health Risks of Formula Feeding
What percentage of the population drinks coffee?
How long does caffeine stay in the body?
Caffeine alters the composition of breast milk
Effects of caffeine on breastfeeding infants