UCB Parents Advice about Breastfeeding
Caffeine & Breastfeeding
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Does anyone know how long it takes for caffeine to leave your system?
How bad is it to drink coffee while breastfeeding?
I don't know the answers to your questions, but I can tell you that I
restarted drinking caffeine when my son (now six months) was about 2
months old. We live near a Peet's and we created a morning routine of
going for a walk every morning to the coffee shop when he was about a
week old. My baby does not mind caffeine, but some babies do. I drink
one cup (or less) a day. I suggest you see how your baby handles it
before you make any decisions about whether or not you need to schedule
feedings around your caffeine intake (or vice versa). However, if you go
to the La Leche League webpage: http://www.lalecheleague.org, you can
probably find out the answers to your questions.
Any idea when I can sneak in a Diet Coke without
feeding my 11 month old a shot of caffeine? How long
does it take for caffeine to make it into and out of
breast milk? Thanks.
I don't know the exact stats for how long it takes for Caffeine to be
processed, or even, for that matter, whether it actually makes it into the
breast milk. But the rule of thumb that I always used if I had any
question about it, was to ingest the caffeine (or alcohol, whatever you're
concerned about), immediately AFTER breastfeeding the baby. This means
that your child will get untainted milk, and there will be the longest
possible time for it to be processed through your body before the next
nursing session. This will work OK for kids who are nursing at least 2
hours apart. I suspect you are out of luck if they are one of those
As I recall, the thing to be concerned about with caffeine, though, is not
necessarily the effect it would have on the baby, but rather the effect it
might have on your milk supply--I think it might decrease the
supply. Check the nursing books on this one ("The Motherly Art of
Breasfeeding", for instance).
From what I know, the ability to metabolize caffeine develops by three- or
four-and-a-half months of age. (Before that age, caffeine may accumulate
and potentially result in toxicity.) After drinking, say, a cup of coffee,
the caffeine level in breast milk is low, only about 1% of the level in
the mother's plasma -- I'm almost certain that coke contains less caffeine
I think, actually, I'd be far more concerned with giving the kid a
shot of aspartame -- or the components it breaks down into, including
methanol, which further breaks down into formaldehyde. Even a casual web
search will turn up all sorts of alarming medical references to the
problems caused by it. Although it is one of the most studied food
additives in use, it's one I've always steered clear of.
I don't have any idea about the caffeine levels of post-diet coke breast
milk, but I was told by my pediatrician to be much more concerned about the
Nutrasweet in diet sodas than about the caffeine in my coffee...
Your best bet (as I understand it) is to drink it either while or just
before you nurse. I drank even fairly strong coffee while nursing and never
noticed any effect on my baby. (Not large quantities, just a cup here or
there). It's nowhere near like the effect substances have on a developing
fetus. You can also have a drink (alcohol) the same way. (Admittedly
doesn't look that great to be swigging down a beer while the baby is
nursing, but it hurts no one.)
I did not see the original post on this topic, but, from the context
assume that you are wondering about using caffeine while nursing. My
advice would be absolutely no.
Caffeine is a very strong stimulant, totally underestimated in
American culture because of its pervasive influence. It's
pervasiveness is due to its addictive qualities. If you are talking
about the occasional green tea, it can be beneficial, but frequent or
regular cups of coffee (or soda) have no place in a healthy diet. It
depletes the adrenal glands by overstimulation; it is oily; taxes the
liver, the stomach, and the bowels; is linked to chronic muscle and
joint pain as well as migraine headaches. In children, I believe it
would definitely increase hyperactivity.
Dont mean to rant, but have had to detox several times from coffee
use. I am studying herbal medicine as well, and in 50% of diagnosis,
eliminating coffee use is the first recommendation.
There is a great book that every nursing mom should have (or have access
to) called Medications and Mother's Milk by Dr. Thomas Hale. (You can
purchase it on line through Amazon.) It uses knowledge about how
medications are used by the body, and how the body makes milk to determine
how much (if any) of the medicine gets into the breastmilk and determine
it's effects on the nursling. Here is an exerpt of what it says for caffine:
Approved by AAP for use in bf mothers.
Only limited amounts are secreted into breast milk. Caffeine levels
secreted into breast milk average approx 1-2 mg per day.
Peak levels of caffeine are found in breast milk 60 minutes after
ingestion. The ave daily dose received by infants is estimated to be
less than 3mg/kg/day in light to moderate users and generally averages
0.06 to 0.15% of the caffeine found in breast milk. These
concentrations are well below the doses used in neonatal units for
treating neonatal apnea. Irritability and insomnia may occur and have
been reported. Occasional use of caffeine is not contraindicated, but
persistent, chronic use may lead to high plasma levels in an infant
during the neonatal period.
Pediatric Half Life PHL=80 hours (newborn), 97.5 hours (neonate), 2.6 hours
(6 month old).
Pediatric Concerns: Rarely, irritability and insomnia. Adult Half
Life=4.9 hours, Peak 60 min.
So, basically you can safely drink caffine while nursing, especially an 11
month old. If you are concerned or if your child seems to react to it when
you nurse right after imbibing a caffinated beverage, try waiting first
until after the 60 min peak, if that doesn't work for your baby, wait until
5 hrs have passed before nursing.
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