How Long Does Caffeine Stay in Breast Milk
Take a quick look around. We are surrounded with beverages that contain a decent amount of caffeine in them.
If there is anyone who needs a little caffeine every now and then, then it is a new mom.
The first few days after delivering your bundle of joy are typically characterized with sleepless nights and tedious days, and for most of us, caffeinated drinks (particularly a latte) seem to be our closest ally.
This, of course, raises the concern of whether or not this kind of habitual caffeine consumption is good for the child. But even more importantly, how long does caffeine stay in breast milk in the first place?
Let's take a quick look at that.
The Postnatal Effects of Frequent Intake of Caffeine
To analyze the effects of habitual caffeine intake in new moms, then we have to first-of-all find out just how much caffeine ends up in breast milk after that afternoon latte.
For starters, immediately after a visit to Starbucks Coffee, the caffeine is absorbed rapidly into your bloodstream before diffusing passively across a couple of epithelial layers in the mammary gland.
As a consequence, caffeine will appear in the milk approximately 15 minutes after your daily dose of coffee. Otherwise, the caffeine levels will peak in the breast milk within an hour or so. If you drank several cups of coffee or a caffeinated drink, then the resultant concentration of caffeine in the milk will end up being about 80% to 90% of that found your blood plasma.
Nonetheless, these facts aside, it has been proven that the baby doesn't receive any more than 10% of the daily dose of caffeine from the mom just by taking into account how much breast milk is consumed per day.
Are These Levels of Caffeine Safe for the Baby?
Simply because the amount of caffeine in your breast milk is considerably low in comparison to what we are used to as adults. But, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are safe for your growing child. And this is mostly because infants process and metabolize caffeine very differently compared to teenagers or adults.
For instance, you baby’s metabolism rates are pretty slow and it is even slower if they have a growth syndrome. Just to give you a rough picture; the half-life of caffeine in a normal adult is typically 2 to 6 hours. In newborn babies, this could be as long as 3 to 4 days or longer.
In other words, the caffeine in an afternoon latte for mom will easily clear from her bloodstream by bedtime, but it could still linger in her newborn for several days later after breastfeeding him.
The good news is that the body has a way of ramping up metabolism gradually with each passing month that the child gets older. By the 8th weeks, for example, the baby should be in a position to assimilate and metabolize caffeine from the breast milk in less than 10 hours. But once again that is just a rough estimation.
The figure is subject to a lot of baby-to-baby variation as far as caffeine metabolism goes.The above analysis can lead us to conclude a number of things as far as this goes.
- For most children, a moderate caffeine consumption (that is about 300mg per 24 hours) is not likely to hurt your breastfeeding infant. This implies that you are limited to about 2 to 3 cups of coffee only especially if your child is less 3 months old.
- Regardless of what the above-generalized studies show, the most important data point is your own child. It wouldn't be surprising if your newborn infant could one of those with a very slow caffeine breakdown rate and thus more sensitive to your daily coffee intake. After all, metabolism capabilities vary from one person to the other.
The Bottom Line
That said, the best and the most practical indicator of how your baby handles caffeine is depicted in their behavior. If she is irritable and overly jittery after breastfeeding then it might be worth considering refraining from caffeine-containing beverages for a while and see whether it helps.
Given that your baby's metabolism will improve with age, you can try reintroducing back the caffeine after a month or two and observe the difference.
Lastly, thank you for reading our article, and we hope that you will have the wisest choice to protect your child’s health and growth. Goodbye, and see you in the next articles.
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