Breastfeeding and maternal caffeine consumption

Most breastfeeding mothers can consume a moderate amount of caffeine (eg a few cups of coffee each day) without it affecting their babies. Newborn babies however can be particularly sensitive to caffeine. This is because it can take a newborn baby a long time (ie half life of 80 hours) to process caffeine. By 6 months, however, it may take a baby only 2–3 hours to process caffeine.1

 Caffeine content in common drinks and food 2

Food

Caffeine level (mg)

Percolated coffee

60–120 mg/250 mL cup

Formulated caffeinated drinks / ‘Energy’ Drinks  

80 mg/250 mL can

Instant coffee (1 teaspoon/cup)

60–80 mg/250mL cup

Tea

10–50 mg/250mL cup

Coca Cola

48.75 mg/375 mL cup

Milk chocolate20 mg/100 g bar
Green tea35-70 mg/250mL cup

Take-away coffee

51-332 mg/serving3

 

The amount of caffeine that gets into a mother’s breastmilk is about 1% of what she takes in and the caffeine level in her breastmilk usually reaches a peak about 60 minutes after she has consumed it.4

Some mothers find that their baby becomes unhappy, jittery, colicky and/or sleeps poorly if she consumes too much caffeine.5 Too much caffeine is different for every mother and depends on various things such as how well a mother’s body processes caffeine. The only way to know if you are taking in too much caffeine is to observe your baby.

A breastfeeding mother may find that caffeine affects her let-down reflex or, if she has nipple vasospasm, makes it worse.

Further information

For further current and accurate information about the use of caffeine while breastfeeding, contact the Medicines Information Centres in your state or the NPS Medicines Line. The numbers are listed below.

Most centres operate during normal business hours. If a call is urgent and outside these hours, ring the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (all states & territories).

 

Mothers Location

Service

Telephone (BH)

ACT

Medicines Information Centre

Canberra Hospital

02 6244 333

NSW

Mother Safe, Royal Hospital for Women

Randwick

02 9382 6539

1800 647 848

(NSW country)

QLD

NPS Medicines Line

1300 633 424

SA

Medicines Information Centre

Women’s and Children’s Hospital

08 8161 7222

TAS

Medicines Information Centre

Royal Hobart Hospital(Mon–Thu)

NPS Medicines Line (Fri)

03 6222 8737

1300 633 424

VIC

Medicines Information Centre

Monash Medical Centre

03 8345 3190

WA

Women & Newborn Health Services (KEMH)

08 9340 2723

All states & territories

NPS Medicines Line (9 am-5 pm AEST)

1300 633 424

 

Poisons Information is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 13 11 26 (all states & territories)

References

  1. Aranda JV, Collinge JM, Zinman R, Watters G, 1979, Maturation of caffeine elimination in infancy, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 54: 946–949.
  2. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, 2011, URL: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.aspx accessed 8/3/12
  3. Crozier TWM, Stalmach A, Lean MEJ, Crozier A 2011, Espresso coffees, caffeine and chlorogenic acid intake: potential health implications, Food and Funciton DOI: 10.1039/c1fo10240k
  4. Berlin CM, Denson HM, Daniel CH, Ward RM 1984, Disposition of dietary caffeine in milk, saliva, and plasma of lactating women, Pediatrics, 73(1):59-63.
  5. Liston J, 1998, Breastfeeding and the use of recreational drugs – alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and marijuana, Breastfeeding Review, 6(2): 27–30.

 The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

 © Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2017

Last reviewed: 
Apr 2017