While 62 percent of the population consumes coffee on a regular basis, far more consume some sort of caffeine without even realizing it. Caffeine is a natural plant derivative found in a wide variety of products from pick-me-up favorites such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks to sweet-tooth delights such as chocolate. Its caffeine’s way of sneaking into some consumables mothers may not think about that makes understanding the effects of caffeine while breastfeeding important.
Caffeine does pass through breast milk to your baby. Current research suggests about 1 percent of the caffeine in your system passes to your baby while breastfeeding. When tested, breast milk showed the highest concentrations of caffeine one hour after consumption. This means unlike alcohol, it may not be effective to simply drink or consume caffeine and wait to breast feed unless the wait time was significantly longer. Caffeine enters the blood stream quickly, peaks at the one hour mark, and begins to dissipate after 3 to 7 hours, but remains in your body for 6 to 14 hours depending on the individual and amount consumed.
How much is too much caffeine while breastfeeding?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding mothers should not exceed 300 mg of caffeine a day. To give you a rough idea that’s around three 8 oz. cups of regular coffee or two 8 oz. milk chocolate bars. Exceeding this amount can affect your baby’s health negatively. Some studies have also found that caffeine in excess of 300 mg a day can alter the composition of breast milk reducing iron content by as much as one third.
What effects can caffeine while breastfeeding have on my baby?
Infants process caffeine far slower than adults, so with continued regular consumption via cross over from breast milk, levels can build in the body causing negative health effects such as:
-Gastrointestinal upset including constipation or diarrhea
These affects are said to subside over time when caffeine levels dissipate. It takes the average newborn 160 hours to metabolize what an adult can in 14 hours. While the long-term effects of caffeine while breastfeeding have yet to be positively proven, some researchers have suggested high caffeine intake may also affect cardiovascular and neurological development.
Is it safe then, to consume caffeine while breast feeding?
It is safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding in moderate amounts not exceeding 300 mg a day. If in excess, you should wait at least 3 to 6 hours so caffeine levels have lowered in your blood stream.
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