If you put your coffee habit on pause whilst you were pregnant, the sleepless nights of a newborn might have you dreaming of an oat latte or an espresso shot again - but is it ok to start drinking coffee if you are breastfeeding? As a postnatal nutritionist, it was high on my agenda and it's something I get asked A LOT!
The answer is yes! Hooray! But there are a few things to consider before jumping straight back into a venti latte.
1 - Coffee contains caffeine, which is a diuretic, meaning it most likely will make you need to go the toilet more frequently. This in turn can make you more thirsty. Listen to your body and drink plenty of fluids, like water and juice, as well as a cup of coffee.
2 - There is very limited evidence on the effect of caffeine on your baby, so it’s not possible to know how much or how quickly caffeine may pass through your milk. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it is thought that excessive amounts could make your baby restless, unsettled and disturb their sleep - exactly what you DON’T want to happen.
3 - As with adults, babies will process caffeine at different speeds. Keep an eye on your baby and tune into your own body after drinking a cup of coffee to see if there is any changes. You might find it best to drink your coffee directly after a feed, so that there is a good amount of time until your baby needs to feed again.
4 - Most guidance suggests that it is sensible to limit the amount of caffeine you have each day whilst breastfeeding. In the UK, the NHS recommends limiting this to 200mg / day. You may see 300mg referred to in US sources of information - you know your body and your baby best, I can only give you advice as a postnatal nutritionist.
5 - Remember that coffee isn’t the only place you will find caffeine. You’ll also find it in many teas, chocolate, energy drinks and some medications, so keep an eye on all of these sources if you are considering drinking coffee again. Decaf coffee is not completely caffeine free, so you can’t drink litres of it!
Now you know that you can slowly introduce your daily coffee habit again, why not make it extra special and really savour the coffee that you do have? Even as a postnatal nutritionist, I indulge myself with coffee - I have an oat milk latte in the morning whilst my son is napping - it’s a proper ‘me’ moment that I can really enjoy. Until he wakes up again!
If you need an extra hand from a postnatal nutritionist in looking at your diet now that you’re breastfeeding, why not send me an email and we can look together at finding balance and joy in the food you’re eating. You can get in touch here.