A new mother has to meet so many demands of the newborn that she hardly gets enough time to sleep. As a result, she feels tired and fatigued all the time. At this point of time, she desperately feels the need of having a cup of coffee to refresh herself. Coffee is one such beverage that we all love because it has excellent stimulant properties. It makes us mentally alert and physically active almost instantly. Lactating mothers have several apprehensions about drinking a cup of coffee while breastfeeding as their friends and well wishers have told them several times that it is bad for the little baby.
Is it Safe to Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, any food or drink that the nursing mother is taking is passed on to the baby through breast milk. After you take a cup of coffee, the caffeine present in it first enters your bloodstream and then it becomes a part of the breast milk. The caffeine level in the breast milk is the highest after about an hour of consumption and slowly its level decreases with passage of time. However, traces of caffeine can be found in the breast milk for several days after drinking coffee.
The caffeine content in coffee is quite high. One cup of coffee contains approximately 90-135 mg of caffeine. When the breastfeeding mother is drinking 6-8 cups of coffee a day, then about 0.6-0.8 mg enters the baby's body. Now, the real problem lies with the fact that the liver of the newborn is not developed enough and it does not have suitable enzymes that can properly detoxify the caffeine as soon as it enters their body system. They need about 100 hours to process the caffeine present in the body, which the adults can do in a matter of 6-8 hours. As a result, if the nursing mother is taking several cups of coffee on a daily basis, then a significant amount of coffee gets accumulated in the infant's body. This brings about a lot of changes in the baby's behavior.
Now, the negative effects of coffee are quite different for every baby. Some of them are more sensitive than others. In general, under the influence of caffeine, babies remain overly active. Many of them show irregular sleeping patterns and they stay awake for a longer period of time. Inadequate amount of sleep makes them unusually edgy and unsettled. They show a lot of irritability. Some of them may develop digestive problems such as constipation and turn collicky quite often.
Breastfeeding mothers who consume more than three cups of coffee in a day have been found to have low iron content in their breast milk. This is because too much of caffeine in their body tends to interfere with their iron absorption capacity. This leads to iron deficiency in the mother which is then passed on to the child. If it continues for a long time, then both the mother and the baby may develop iron deficiency anemia in the long run.
Therefore, you do not have to completely stop drinking coffee while breastfeeding but you have to be careful. You should take it in moderate amounts which is 2 cups per day and not more than that. Once you start taking coffee, keep a close watch on your baby's behavior. At any point of time, if you feel that your baby's getting agitated after you started having coffee regularly, then you can assume that he or she must be highly sensitive towards caffeine.