The biggest (and most vital) luxury for a new mom is sleep, which is closely followed by coffee — the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world — to function until she can sleep again. But despite the desperate and constant need for caffeine, there's always the eternal tug-of-war between that and how safe it is for your baby if you're nursing. No mother wants to expose her child to stimulating drugs, and unfortunately, the caffeine in coffee is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. So, is coffee the forbidden fruit when you're breastfeeding?
According to experts, not necessarily. When you drink coffee, a small amount (usually less than one percent) goes to your breast milk. The amount that shows up in your breast milk will usually peak within a few hours of consumption. However, if your child is less than 3 months old, you need to be extra careful, because newborn metabolisms can't break down and get rid of the caffeine in their bodies, so there is a good possibility that the caffeine will accumulate and cause irritability or sleeplessness. So when dealing with nursing newborns and coffee, practice mindful moderation. "Caffeine can affect different babies in different ways," Molly Petersen, certified lactation counselor at Lansinoh, told POPSUGAR. "It is important to monitor how your caffeine intake affects your baby and watch for signs like increased fussiness or wakefulness."
Once your baby gets older, you can start to drink 16 to 24 ounces of coffee a day as long as your child isn't showing signs of difficulty when trying to fall asleep. It's also important to note that different types of coffee beans can have different amounts of caffeine. For example, a Starbucks 16-ounce cup of coffee will have 330 mg of caffeine, whereas a Dunkin' Donuts 16-ounce cup will have 211 mg. As long as nursing mothers maintain a coffee habit that doesn't exceed more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, there should be no problem. "It's best to have caffeine moderation," Petersen continued. "A general guideline is that moms can have one to two caffeinated drinks a day." Just remember that every child is different, and if your little one is showing effects of coffee consumption (such as wakefulness or jittery-ness), consider eliminating the coffee from your diet for a few days to see if it makes any difference.