Drinking Coffee and Breast Feeding

The sum total of evidence tells us that coffee has lots of health benefits. These include a reduction of risk of getting type II diabetes, less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, and even a reduced risk of getting several types of cancer. But how about the effects of coffee on babies? We are not talking about bottle feeding coffee to your newborn but rather a mother drinking coffee and breast feeding. Is this safe? Are there limits to how much coffee a nursing mother should drink?

Effects of Coffee on Babies

When adults drink coffee it wakes them up, makes them more alert. Although too much coffee can cause problems adults process coffee rather efficiently and it generally takes a lot of coffee to cause problems. Newborn babies who are nursing do not process caffeine as efficiently as adults do. Thus, relatively lesser amounts can have relatively greater effects. The other part of this is that while you may feel energizes and alert your baby may simply be anxious, jittery or irritable. They may exhibit symptoms of colic. As with adults, side effects of coffee in babies are worse with higher levels of coffee in the body.

Drinking Coffee and Breast Feeding

How Long Does Caffeine Stay in Your Body?

Accumulation of caffeine in babies can be a significant issue because of their relatively immature kidneys and liver. The half-life of caffeine in an adult is between three and seven hours. In other words you drink coffee and there is level caffeine in your system. Half of that is gone between three and seven hours later and half of what remains in another three to seven hours. Thus, the amount of caffeine that remains from one morning cup of coffee is about an eighth to as little as 1/7x7x7 a day later.

How Much Longer Does Caffeine Stay in a Baby’s Body?

The half-life of caffeine in a newborn baby ranges between sixty-five and one hundred thirty hours. So, while an adult will get rid of half of their caffeine in three hours a newborn baby can require as long as five days and ten hours to reduce their caffeine level to half. The point is that if your baby is colicky because they got too much caffeine from breast milk that colic for one dose of caffeine may last for days!

Caffeine in Breast Milk

Because only a small amount of caffeine gets into breast milk, moms can consume as much as 200mg to 300 mg of caffeine (one or two eight ounce cups of coffee a day) and generally not see any adverse effects with their nursing babies. Anyone who drinks coffee in the six to ten cup a day range is likely to see side effects on caffeine in their nursing babies. (Maternal Diet and Breast Feeding – CDC) In the case of a premature baby moms may choose to cut back a bit more on their caffeine until baby is a month old or more. Something important to remember is that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. There are some “energy” drinks that have greater caffeine content that coffee. These can pose a much greater problem to you nursing newborn if they are your drinks of choice while nursing.

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