Is coffee allowed for breastfeeding moms looking for a pick-me-up? Let’s hear what experts say about the safety of caffeine.


A common confusion many pregnant or new moms is about caffeine consumption while breastfeeding. Many soon-to-be mamas or new moms have the misconception that they can’t drink caffeine while breastfeeding. After all, the amount of caffeine you can ingest while pregnant is restricted – shouldn’t it be even more so when nursing?

From chocolate to coffee, what’s the deal?

In short – you can have caffeine while breastfeeding. Here are a few reasons why:

Respiratory stimulant for premature babies

Although caffeine is considered a stimulant, it is actually sometimes given as a medication to premature babies to help with breathing problems.  In those cases, it is given in much higher amounts than what is even found in the mother’s milk.

Safety Approved by Experts

The American Academy of Pediatrics classifies caffeine as a “Maternal Medication Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding”. Dr. Thomas Hale, author of the best-selling resource on medications in breastfeeding mothers, “Medications & Mother’s Milk, indicates that caffeine is classified as Lactation Risk 2 during pregnancy and lactation classifies caffeine as an L2, or Lactation Risk 2 (Safer). The amount of caffeine in your breast milk is only about 0.06-1.15% of what the mother consumes, and is at its peak 1-2 hours after the mother drinks.

Up to 3 cups may be tolerated

As with everything relating to parenting and babies, your baby is unique and has his or her own set of needs and sensitivities. Many sources will recommend anywhere between 500-750 mg daily (which is about three 8 oz cups of black coffee) as an upper limit for the amount of caffeine you can ingest while lactating.

However, your baby may tolerate more or less, especially depending on the timing of when you’re consuming caffeine and how soon after you’re breastfeeding. If your baby is excessively awake, wide-eyed, may be particularly fussy, and you consume a large amount of caffeine, you may want to consider cutting back – and know it can take 2-3 weeks to start seeing a difference.

With that said, as with all things, caffeine should still be consumed in moderation. Some babies can be more sensitive to caffeine than others, particularly if your baby is under six months old and younger babies have a harder time metabolizing caffeine. If you did not consume any caffeine during pregnancy, your baby may likely be more sensitive to caffeine.

Simply put, go ahead and enjoy responsibly if a cup of joe will help you get through your day.  

You definitely deserve it!

Adapted from the original article.

Lindsey Janeiro RDN, CLC is a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Counselor based in Sarasota, FL focused on helping busy moms live stress-free in the kitchen. She inspires moms with the confidence and encouragement they need to create simple, affordable family meals that nourishes everyone’s health and happiness. Learn more about Lindsey at Nutrition to Fit.