Because you probably kept careful track of your diet during pregnancy to avoid exposing your fetus to anything that could cause harm, you might wonder whether you need to maintain the same level of vigilance while you're breastfeeding. Thankfully for fans of coffee and tea, caffeine use during breastfeeding doesn't appear to decrease milk supply, although drinking too much caffeine can have an impact on some babies.
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The distinguishing, unifying feature of mammals -- a category of animals that includes humans -- is that they all produce milk to feed their babies. Like all mammals, your breasts begin to produce milk after you give birth, and your milk is affected by the quality of your diet. Some medications and chemicals that you consume -- including caffeine -- can pass to your baby as you breastfeed.
Caffeine and Supply
There's a common misconception that caffeine decreases milk supply, but according to KellyMom.com -- a website run by a nurse and lactation consultant -- there's no evidence to support this notion. In fact, one study by Dr. A. Nehlig and colleagues in a 1994 edition of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" found that caffeine may even stimulate milk production.
If you choose to consume caffeine while you're breastfeeding, however, you should be aware that it passes into your milk to a small degree, and some babies are very sensitive to caffeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers caffeine a substance that is compatible with breastfeeding, but cautions that in excess -- more than two or three cups of coffee per day -- caffeine can lead to poor sleep patterns in your baby. This is particularly true of younger infants.
Generally speaking, it's safe for you to use caffeine in moderation while you're breastfeeding, and being a coffee drinker isn't a reason to wean your baby early. The World Health Organization urges mothers to breastfeed as the sole source of infant nutrition until 6 months of age.