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What’s the Deal with Caffeine and Breastfeeding?

You got through nine months of eliminating your favorite things (alcohol, sushi, coffee, the list goes on and on…) and now that your tiny human is finally here, you can’t wait to start enjoying them again. Except your friend from book club told you that the secret to getting your baby to sleep through the night is to stay clear of chocolate, soda, tea and coffee. And your colleague swears that her coffee habit messed with her supply. Are they right? Here are the guidelines for caffeine and breastfeeding, once and for all. 

The good news: Moderate caffeine consumption (about two cups of coffee per day) is perfectly safe while nursing, just as it was while pregnant. That’s per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which says, “Drinking caffeine in moderate amounts (200 mg a day) most likely will not affect your baby.” (Phew.) The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes this sentiment and has classed caffeine as a “maternal medication usually compatible with breastfeeding.”

While it’s true that traces of caffeine can be found in breast milk, the amount that’s actually passed along to your baby is typically too small to have any negative effects.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should start your day with a triple espresso. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to caffeine and nursing. 

According to the ACOG, “newborns and preterm infants are more sensitive to caffeine’s effects.” Therefore, nursing moms may want to consume lower amounts of caffeine in the first few days after their baby is born or if their infant is preterm. 

As for caffeine affecting your milk supply, the answer is that it won’t (hurrah). But again, there’s a caveat. Molly Petersen, a certified lactation counselor at Lansinoh, explains: “The caffeine from coffee will be absorbed into your breastmilk. Some babies are more sensitive to caffeine, and it can cause fussiness and refusal to nurse. This decrease in breastfeeding can then lead to a decreased supply.” 

If you notice that your baby seems particularly fussy or restless after you consume caffeine, you might want to cut back for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. You can also try timing your intake so that it won’t interfere with nursing (caffeine usually peaks in breast milk one to two hours after ingestion).

So there you have it. Enjoy your morning cup of joe without fear. (Hey, after all those middle-of-the-night wake-ups, you deserve it.)