• Fri, Dec 27 - 10:00 am ET

I Like To Think Of My Caffeinated Breast Milk As An Extra Nutritious Latte

200523405-001As a new mom, it seems there is no end to the many things you can feel guilty about. It’s even worse if you’re a guilty personality type like myself—if something goes wrong, it must have been my fault. Right?

I drank coffee and wine moderately through both of my pregnancies. I seriously could not make it through the day without a cup of coffee or two, especially while working. And once there was a new baby in the house, I was totally screwed again—sleepless nights, interrupted sleep, and very few naps meant that a full pot of coffee must be ready at all times.

But wait—as a breast-feeding mom, my body still wasn’t my own. With my first kid, I tried to stick to stringent rules about when and where to enjoy caffeine and alcohol while breast-feeding. If you consult Dr. Google, most sources say it’s A-Okay to have caffeine while breast-feeding with an important qualification: in moderation.

With my first son, I was extra careful about when and how much coffee I had, enjoyed at strategic times throughout the day when I knew I wasn’t going to breast-feed or pump for a few hours. Yay, me. But by the time I had my second son with a crazy toddler running around the house, I forgot all about considerations for moderation.

I didn’t necessarily throw caution to the wind and hook myself up to a caffeine drip (though I was tempted), but I did forget about monitoring how close to breast-feeding I drank my morning, midmorning, and lunchtime cuppa. The funny thing is that my second son is an even better sleeper than my first son was, which may be a total coincidence. But clearly, my disregard for caffeine regulation with baby #2 didn’t noticeably disrupt his sleep habits.

There have been a few times where I caught myself chugging coffee before I was going to pump, and I thought—Crap, I’m supposed to be moderating my caffeine intake, aren’t I?

Now that my son has passed the important six month mark (where a baby becomes less sensitive to caffeine, according to KellyMom), and I’m pumping less during the day, caffeine in my breast milk is a non-issue. There were occasions where I felt guilty and second-guessed myself about ODing my infant on caffeine, but thankfully, that ship has sailed. I still haven’t figured out how new breast-feeding moms are supposed to survive on “moderate caffeine” and zero sleep—but I’d love to know their secret.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Andrea

    The way my (awesomely Cuban) gyno explained it to me was that caffeine wasn’t going to harm the baby, but if it keeps you awake, for sure it will keep the baby awake too. I tried very hard to limit myself to one cup a day, not because I was some kind of super mom but because I was gonna be DAMNED if anything interfered with baby’s sleep.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I’m obsessed with baby sleep too, which is why sometimes I’ll freak about possibly drinking too much coffee. But normally sleep problems have been teething or growth spurts…. Ugh.

  • LadyClodia

    I was fortunate when I was pregnant with our first son that I had the luxury to nap whenever I wanted to since I didn’t work, and I consumed no caffeine while I was pregnant with him, and I don’t think I had much when I was breastfeeding him either. I was paranoid about it, especially during pregnancy because I’d read that caffeine can cause miscarriages, and after having 2 already I wasn’t going to take any chances. Now I’m pretty sure that the moderate amounts of caffeine that I consumed daily before we had our first son had not caused the miscarriages, but it was hard to be rational at the time.
    I mostly definitely consumed caffeine when I was pregnant and breastfeeding our second son because, yeah, there was no way I was going to get through the day without it. And like yours, my youngest is a much better sleeper than my first was, and the caffeine never seemed to bother him much.

  • Abby Ferri

    with my first and only pregnancy I did not consume caffeine. After she was born, I was careful until about the 6 month mark with the same advice from the Doc as many have already noted. My little just turned one, I’m still breastfeeding multiple times each day and in the night – I drink about a pot of coffee per day if I can! Lots of Coffeemate flavored creamer too. I work from home, up at 4:30am after a night of being my daughter’s all-night diner. She naps once during the day and sacks out at 9 or 10pm until about 3am – so I think I’m good. If I feel super jittery, I pound some water and I keep up my water intake all day to normalize the coffee.
    I think we’re all doing a good job :)

  • Carinn Jade

    I don’t drink coffee or soda, but I still totally relate. No matter what “it” is, there’s always something to worry about. I was so much more lax about all of it the second time around — and it saved my sanity!

  • Kay_Sue

    I am an unapologetic soda addict. I’m not even human without at least one. I did restrict it during my pregnancies and while nursing, and my kids slept like rocks.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    I drink so much coffee and my kid sleeps like a champ. I totally restricted it with my first child and he woke up every 3 hours. So my own personal science says coffee=good. Yay, science!

    • Bethany Ramos

      HAH, we must have read the same “study!”

  • SusannahJoy

    I asked the nurse about caffeine in the hospital. She just sorta rolled her eyes and said that “very little” caffeine goes to the baby. So I took that to mean I can continue having my morning cup, which is usually all I need anyway. Sometimes another one at lunch. I think people are way too paranoid these days, and I just don’t have the energy to be that nervous about everything.

  • Jordana

    It’s nice to hear a fresh, honest take on things like caffeine and alcohol! It seems pointless to listen to older traditional ideas about this stuff and ignore the loads of new research that say we don’t have to live in total deprivation. Great article :-)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you!!