You likely reduced your caffeine intake while you were pregnant, but you may be wondering if you need to continue this habit as long as you are nursing your infant. While you may not need to restrict your caffeine intake as much as when you were pregnant, you do need to watch how much you consume. Caffeine can have negative effects on your nursing little one, and knowing what they are can help you decide whether this substance deserves a place in your breastfeeding diet.
When you nurse your baby, she gets all of the vitamins and minerals she needs from your breast milk. If you choose to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy foods, you supply your little one with exactly what she needs, and you also support healthy production of your milk. The drinks you choose should be nutritious as well. Drink plenty of water to help keep yourself hydrated and producing sufficient amounts of breast milk. Caffeinated beverages can have a small place in your diet, as long as your baby does not appear to be sensitive to them.
Large doses of caffeine can impact your health by causing insomnia, jittery nerves and irritability. These effects can also impact your nursing baby, particularly if you drink large amounts of caffeine. Five cups of coffee or less per day seem to have little or no effect on nursing infants over the age of 3 weeks. This holds true for full-term infants. Pre-term infants may be more sensitive to smaller amounts of caffeine. When you consume more than this, your baby may have difficulty sleeping and may also be more irritable and difficult to soothe.
A cup of home-brewed coffee contains between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine, and restaurant blends have between 50 and 200 milligrams. Black tea contains between 40 and 120 milligrams of caffeine. Iced tea contains less caffeine than brewed tea. The average soda contains between 30 and 45 milligrams of caffeine, but energy drinks can have as much as 500 milligrams per serving. Chocolate and certain brands of gum also contain small doses of caffeine.
Keep your daily caffeine intake at 300 milligrams or less each day to help prevent the negative effects the substance can have on your little one. Opt for decaffeinated coffee and tea if you enjoy the taste of these beverages too much to give them up. Soda should have only an occasional place in your breastfeeding diet, but when you do splurge, opt for clear or lemon-lime versions, because most of them are caffeine free.