Caffeine and Breastfeeding: Hot Topic Tuesday Blog Hop

The Hot Topic Tuesday question of the week is “Should breastfeeding mothers abstain from all caffeine?”

Roasted Coffee BeansFor me, the question of avoiding caffeine while I am breastfeeding my daughter is easy. I avoid as much caffeine as possible. However, my decision has less to do with my daughter and more to do with me. I have an intolerance to caffeine. Although I can have a little a feel fine, consuming too much caffeine at once gives me an upset stomach and makes me very shaky. If I have caffeine too slow to bedtime, I also have trouble falling asleep. Therefore, although I will have a regular Coke with caffeine every now and then, I usually avoid caffeinated drinks. I prefer to drink decaf coffee, tea, and soda whenever possible.

If, however, I did not personally have a problem with caffeine, I would still avoid caffeinated drinks as much as possible while I was breastfeeding my daughter. Although most women can safely consume caffeine while breastfeeding, some babies are more sensitive to the drug than others. I personally would not want to risk the chance that my daughter had a caffeine sensitivity when avoiding caffeine in the first place is so easy.

Babies who are sensitive to caffeine are often fussier than usual. Furthermore, caffeine can cause excessive gas in some babies. I know that when my daughter was a newborn, she tended to get gas that caused her a lot of tummy pain. Although I generally avoid caffeinated drinks anyway, I also completely cut out regular Coke from diet just in case the little bit of caffeine in the soda was affecting my daughter negatively.

Avoiding or reducing the amount of caffeine in your diet is fairly easy. All you need to do is cut out those foods that contain the most caffeine and limit your intake of foods with lower levels of caffeine. For example, an eight ounce cup of regular coffee from Starbucks contains 250 milligrams of caffeine. A twelve ounce can of regular Coke contains only 36 milligrams of caffeine. Eight ounces of black tea contains 48 milligrams of caffeine. A bar of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate contains about 10 milligrams of caffeine. Most sodas have the caffeine content printed somewhere on the packaging, so you can easily figure out how much caffeine you are consuming. Also, keep in mind that decaffeinated tea and coffee still contain a tiny bit of caffeine. However, by replacing regular drinks with decaf versions and by eliminating foods with large amounts of caffeine from your diet, you can pretty much reduce the amount of caffeine that your breastfed baby receives from your milk.

Personally, I avoid caffeine as much as possible while I am breastfeeding and in my life in general. Do I think that all nursing mothers need to abstain from caffeine? Absolutely not. Some mothers and babies do just fine with small amounts of caffeine. Should a breastfeeding mother drink cup after cup of caffeinated soda, tea, and coffee? Probably not. But a once-size-fits-all rule against consuming caffeine while breastfeeding is not the answer.

What do you think about consuming caffeine while breastfeeding? Share a link to your post. Please also share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ after you share your link. Although not required, for some good comment karma, visit the three links in front of your posting.

Hot Topic Tuesday

Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: Should babies not be nursed to sleep?

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Breastfeeding and caffeine:
Does caffeine cause gas in a breast-fed baby?:

Image Credits

Roasted Coffee Beans:

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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