Okay this is probably the most common nutrition question I get asked by families. Here’s the breakdown with caffeine and alcohol, starting with caffeine.
What we know:
The amount of caffeine that makes it into your milk is low – around 0.06% to 1.5% of the amount you drink. However, you don’t want to drink a crazy amount, because it still gets into your breastmilk. The current recommendation at the time of writing this post is no more than 750 mg per day.
Some studies have shown that more than 750 mg per day can cause irritability, fussiness, and trouble sleeping in babies.
So bottom line on caffeine while breastfeeding – you can have it, but don’t go crazy with it. Also, keep in mind that babies under six months can be more sensitive to caffeine than older babies. So, if you do feel your baby is becoming irritable due to caffeine intake, you can try cutting back and seeing if it makes a difference in your baby.
Alcohol and Breastfeeding
You do not have to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding. However, let’s be clear at what is an appropriate amount of alcohol to have.
When I say that alcohol while breastfeeding is okay, I mean an occasional drink in small amounts (1-2 glasses at most).
Daily consumption of alcohol, especially when parents consume 3 or more drinks in one day, can lead to issues with weight gain in baby. It can also decrease gross motor development in baby, and it can inhibit your milk let down. Not good.
Not to mention the dangers of caring for your baby when you are not feeling sober after having three or more drinks. NEVER try to care for your baby if you feel neurologically impaired.
With small to moderate drinking, the amount of alcohol that passes into your milk is less than 2% of what the parent drinks. So again, the milk does not become dangerous when the parent drinks a small amount alcohol – it’s the neurological state of the parent that can be an issue.
Many families use the rule – “If you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed.”
No need to pump and dump if you have alcohol either. The alcohol typically leaves your milk after 1.5-2 hours, and pumping and dumping does nothing to speed that process along.
What happens if you drink too much? Make sure someone responsible is available to care for your baby safely. Do not try to breastfeed until you are feeling sober again. Pump to maintain supply in the meantime, if you can.