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Caffeine and Breast Feeding

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To caffeinate or not to caffeinate, that is the question…
Here’s a mom’s dilemna for you. You need to take your baby on a long car ride. You’re the one driving. And you are tired. I’m not talking, regular old, need to get a little more sleep tired. I’m talking bone tired, afraid you’re going to drive your car off the road tired. Tired like…all of a sudden you realize you’re at a certain stretch of the highway and you don’t remember the previous ten miles. Tired like…you’re sitting in a really boring class room lecture and you feel yourself doing the head bob.
This was my challenge recently. The “Titty Bear” (for those of you just joining this blog, that’s our six month old) has stopped sleeping through the night. He was a rock star sleeper from 11 weeks through 4.5 months. He would sleep uninterrupted from 6 pm to 6 am. In fact, he was such a good sleeper I often put a hand on his chest to make sure he was still breathing. Well, those days are over. In fact, they’ve been over for the past month and a half. For some reason, he is back to waking up during the night at least once. Of course, I jump up right away to stop the crying for fear that he’ll wake up “The Bortski” (a/k/a our two year old). And the only thing that will calm him down is some boob. A ten minute snack and he’s snoozing peacefully again. Happy as can be. I, on the other hand, am a zombie. The pediatrician is encouraging me to do a little sleep training for the baby. We’re getting ready to do something. Anything, just so I can sleep for six hours, at least, uninterrupted. We just haven’t done it yet. But that’s another story for another time.
Meanwhile, I still have to function. And last weekend that meant driving 200 miles to visit family. So here’s the dilemna: Do I try to tough it out without a turbo charge and cross my fingers that I won’t have to pull over to rest? Or do I down a cup of coffee in the morning, a coke mid-ride, and an then an extra large, dark chocolate, Hershey’s bar along the route?
So what’s the big deal? Well, if I have caffeine, the Titty Bear may get his own turbo charged snack next time I breastfeed him, and who knows what in the world THAT will do to his sleeping schedule. Plus, all that coffee and coke will make me have to pee. And not just once. Of course that means pulling over at a rest stop, waking two sleeping babies, wrangling one into the stroller, strapping the other into the Baby Bjorn, dragging the three of us into the bathroom and finding a stall big enough to hold the stroller while I perch over the seat with the baby dangling off my chest.
Here’s what eventually happened. “Dada” (a/k/a my husband) was able to join us for the ride. So that elimated the bathroom dilemna. But I did have to drive (for a variety of reasons that I can’t go into right now), so I went the caffeine route. As for the Titty Bear, his sleep is still messed up.
So what do the experts say about caffeine and breastfeeding? Most say that one cup of coffee isn’t a problem. But beware…caffeine can make some babies irritable and it can accumulate in their system over time. Here’s an answer from La Leche League. Here’s another answer from the breastfeeding site KellyMom.
What do you do? Caffeinate or not? Share your stories.

8 Responses to “Caffeine and Breast Feeding”

ok, as far as stopping to pee – yeah, that is gonna suck and is a total hassle, but I’d do it if that was the result of drinking coffee. I didn’t abstain from caffeine while breastfeeding. Granted I did not down 4 cups of coffee every morning, but I did have one BIIIIIIG one. I also had the occasional diet coke during the day. It didn’t seem to affect my son and it was a LIFESAVOR for me. I hear ya on the interrupted sleep. My little munchkin did not sleep through the night until he was ELEVEN MONTHS OLD….and that only lasted for a little while. I know what tired is. :) Anyway, here is a great link for info on caffeine and breastfeeding:

I find that with caffeine there’s a bit of a “boomerang” effect – he sleeps real well on the day that I drink caffeine, then is a light sleeper the *next* day.
I try not to drink tea more often than every other day, so it will not build up in his system. I’ve gone several days without any, though, so I’m not exactly sure why, but I think the wakey-boy thing is just a developmental stage.
Me on the other hand…why am I still awake at 4 am?

Depends on the child I think. My eldest never slept for my then two hours until she was 13 months old and is still terrible at 10 years. My second daughter slept 12 hours from 6 weeks and still loves to have this at 8 years.
I hadn’t touched coffee for about 8 years pre my second pregnancy where it was was my craving and I drank it most days, as much as I needed.
I fed both on demand for 10 months when they naturally weaned.
I think it’s just one of those things you have to follow your gut feeling on.

I abstained from all caffeine during pregnancy & for months after, introducing it gradually & using it sporadically to date; I lived in Stockholm during my second trimester, where it is completely acceptable & mainstream to drink coffee pregnant & postpartum. My onkle-in-law, KG, a world renown fertility doctor, offered me a cup of coffee at brunch one afternoon. I was surprised & he informed me that Swedish mums are advised to limit coffee intake to two cups a day! I often watched my dear Swedish friend & momtor, Annika, have a couple of lattes as she cradled & breastfed little Linus. They were both surprised that in N. America it is taboo. I have to say, I observed Swedish children in public transportation, ferries, at parks, cocktail parties, & they were some of the best behaved, calmest children that I have ever seen. It took months for me to dare experiment with my baby because like every new mom, I did not want to compromise his sleep or behavior. I have never noticed a difference in him wether I have a latte (double shot), green tea, chai, or nothing at all. My 16 month old son, Raven, still takes his two hour daily nap & is now sleeping eight hours solid & I am more relaxed about having a latte! I have observed sugar is an immediately noticeable stimulant that I avoid like anthrax!

Just a reply to the previous post: I am from Europe and coffee/ tea/ alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding are a no no there as well. I am not sure about the Stockholm story, but everywhere else in Europe this is not the case! Only in America have I seen young children and adults drink coke as much as they do, not in Europe. Hand held soups are a great hot alternative and try Perrier instead of coke, you can add juice or anything else to give it flavor. NEVER drink diet drinks, aspartame is nasty stuff.

I live in the USA and I drank a cup of coffee every day during pregnancy, ordering it half decaf, half regular. I just couldn’t go without my Dunkin Donuts coffee. I breastfeed and my baby is almost 9 months. I still drink the coffee, now I drink that same small iced coffee full caffeine, and my baby is fine. She sleeps well, and thru the night. Many sites limit tell you how many milligrams per day. You will know if your baby is getting too much. As long as you stay under the recommended amount, it should be fine.

I have to admit I am a coffee holic :) meaning I drink more coffe than most. I try to limit to at least 4 cups (8 oz) per day but most of the time I end up with a whole pot in me. I did this all through pregnancy and still do even though I am exclusively breastfeeding. my son has slept all through the night since he was 6 weeks old (8 hours). He is on a very good sleep schedule and is doing great. He was born at 9lbs 9oz and at 3 mnths is now over 15 lbs. I truely believe that it is based on the child :) my sisters youngest the moment she touched coffee would be up for hours on end, she had to abstain from it the whole time. Use your own judgement and figure out what your child can and cannot have.

I’m worried that no one has commented on the direct question — whether to drive bone-tired or drink caffeine and risk a fretful baby. I used to live in a remote part of Utah, 200 miles from the nearest airport. Long drives in a tired state were routine, and they are NOT a good idea. I knew one person who died when he drove off the road while driving tired late at night. I had enough near misses myself that I alway make sure to drink coffee if I’m at all tired (I never drink caffeine at other times). It’s easy to tell yourself, “oh, I’ll push through,” but it’s one of the most dangerous things you’ll ever do — it’s easy to nod off and not realize until you’re nearly off the road. Do whatever you have to to keep yourself awake, or stop and sleep even if that’s inconvenient!

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