Saturday, November 15, 2008

Breastfeeding and Caffeine

1:04 PM by Lilian ·
Mothers of newborn babies are often tired women. The demands of meeting their infants' needs night and day can create a bit of sleep deprivation that leaves them fatigued and reaching for the coffee pot. Breastfeeding mothers may have concerns about drinking coffee and whether the caffeine within the stimulating brew will affect their baby through their milk supply. The good news is nursing mothers can drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages in moderation without great risk to their child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared that coffee is safe to drink by a breastfeeding mother and will have little affect on an infant, as long as a nursing mother does not go over three cups a day. Without exceeding three cups of coffee a day, or its equivalent in other beverages, the amount of caffeine passed on to the baby is minimal and in most cases is well tolerated with no adverse reaction. Remember there are many other sources of caffeine in your diet, from colas and tea. Many cold remedies contain caffeine, as does chocolate! These all need to be taken into account when you are totting up your daily quota.

How Does Caffeine Affects Your Nursing Baby?

Obviously, caffeine will have a greater effect on your baby than you, due to the differences in size and the baby’s immature digestive system. Caffeine is a stimulant, and an accumulation of caffeine in your baby’s system could have noticeable effects on their behavior.

Kellymom described the following symptoms of a baby that is affected by caffeine:

  • Wide eyed
  • Overly active
  • Hyper alert
  • Awake more than is normal
  • Will not sleep for long periods of time
  • Unusually fussy
If your baby is affected by the caffeine in your diet, cut down gradually each day until you have given it up altogether. And remember to watch out for all the different sources of caffeine listed above.

How long does the caffeine take to leave the mother’s system?

Caffeine can clear a mother’s system in around eight hours or less, but in a baby it can stay for several days. Knowing this, you can choose to only drink or consume caffeine immediately after you have breast fed. This way it will be virtually out of your system by the time you next breastfeed. Still keep your total quota under the five small cups a day limit, however, including all sources. Drink a few glasses of water after consuming coffee, as this will dilute the caffeine and reduce the effects of its diuretic properties.

I can’t give up coffee. Help!

If you just can’t manage to do without your daily fix of caffeine, try following these tips:

1. Limit the amount of caffeine you do consume as much as you can.
2. Caffeine is at its highest level in breast milk around one hour after you have drunk it. Bear this in mind when drinking your one or two precious cups a day.
3. Smoking will only increase the effect of caffeine on you and your baby, so don’t smoke if you drink caffeine. Of course, you shouldn’t be smoking anywhere around your baby at all. If you were unable to kick the habit while pregnant, talk to your doctor for help.


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