Caffeine And Breastfeeding

Is It OK To Have Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and Soda?

Is it OK to have caffeine if you're breastfeeding? Can you have coffee, tea, chocolate, or soda when you're breastfeeding?
Can you drink coffee if you're breastfeeding?. Grant Symon/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring product found in certain plants, including those used to make coffee and chocolate. It's also an ingredient in soft drinks and some medications.

Caffeine is considered a drug that stimulates the body: it can help wake you up, make you more alert, and energize you. In large doses, caffeine can cause side effects such as nervousness, shaking, anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Is It Safe To Have Caffeine If You're Breastfeeding?

A common question that nursing mothers often ask is whether or not they can have coffee, tea, soda or chocolate if they are breastfeeding. The answer is: yes, you can have caffeine if you're breastfeeding, as long as you don't overdo it.

Can Caffeine Get Into Your Breast Milk And Pass To Your Baby?

Caffeine does enter your breast milk, and it will get passed to your baby. If you have one or two cups of coffee (or tea, or soda) each day, the amount of caffeine that your child will receive is minimal, and most infants won't be bothered by this small amount. Some babies, however, may be more sensitive to caffeine, and even one cup of a caffeinated beverage can cause irritability or other problems. Premature infants and newborns have a more difficult time processing and removing the caffeine from their bodies than older children, so they're more likely to have a reaction to caffeine.​​

Infants of mothers who take in more than 5 cups of coffee or other caffeine-containing items per day, such as tea, or soda, are more likely to develop problems from caffeine.

Caffeine-related problems that can appear in babies include hyperactivity, tremors, fussiness, symptoms of colic, restless sleep, or sleeplessness. However, once the caffeine is stopped, these symptoms will usually disappear in a few days. 

What You Can Do If You Enjoy Your Caffeine

  • Have one or two cups of coffee or tea in the morning, and then switch to decaffeinated beverage choices for the remainder of the day.
  • Drink your caffeinated beverage after you breastfeed your baby, not before.
  • Some infants are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you notice your baby is jittery, irritable, or having trouble sleeping, try reducing or eliminating the caffeine from your diet.
  • If your baby is colicky, you may want to try to decrease your caffeine consumption to see if it helps to relieve some of the pain and symptoms associated with colic.

Warnings and Side Effects Of Caffeine Use

  • Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system: it increases your heart beat, blood pressure, and the rate of your breathing.
  • Drinking large amounts of caffeine can dehydrate your body. Excessive caffeine consumption could also decrease your breast milk supply.
  • Some over-the-counter pain relievers and cold medications include caffeine as an ingredient, especially those designed for headaches. Weight loss pills and energy drinks also contain caffeine, and even decaffeinated coffee can have a small amount of caffeine.
  • Caffeine is associated with vasospasms of the nipples. If you experience sore, painful nipples as a result of vasospasm, it may help to avoid caffeine.
  • If you have a large amount of caffeine daily and want to stop, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal can cause headaches, fatigue, irritability, nausea, and feelings of depression.


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. Caffeine Chemistry: What Is Caffeine and How Does It Work?. Chemistry. Accessed November 9, 2012:

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.


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