Most breastfeeding mums can drink a moderate amount of caffeine (eg a few cups of coffee or tea each day) without it affecting their babies.
The amount of caffeine that gets into your breastmilk is about 1% of what you take in. The caffeine level in your breastmilk usually reaches a peak about 60 minutes after you have consumed it.
Effects of too much caffeine
If you drink too much caffeine, you may find that your baby becomes unhappy, jittery, colicky and/or sleeps poorly. Too much caffeine is different for every mum and depends on various things such as how well your body processes caffeine. The only way to know if you are taking in too much caffeine is to observe your baby.
Newborn babies can be particularly sensitive to caffeine. This is because it can take a newborn baby a much longer time to process caffeine than a baby who is 3 or 4 months older.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommend that daily caffeine consumption of up to 200mg is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. If you smoke, this can increase the adverse effect of caffeine on your baby, so you should limit your caffeine intake further.
If you are breastfeeding and you have nipple vasospasm, you may find that caffeine intake makes it worse.
Espresso: 145 mg/50 mL shot
Takeaway coffee: 51-332 mg/serve
Instant (1tsp/cup): 60-80 mg /250 mL cup
10–50 mg/220 mL cup
20 mg/100 g bar
Formulated caffeinated drinks / ‘Energy’ Drinks
up to 80 mg/250 mL can
up to 54 mg/375 mL can
Note that the Food Standards Code in Australia requires that energy drinks be labelled as unsuitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Cola drinks must also be labelled 'contains caffeine'.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022
Brodribb, W. (ed). (2019). Nutrition for the breastfeeding woman. In Brodribb, W. (ed.) Breastfeeding Management in Australia (5th ed., pp. 193-209). Australian Breastfeeding Association.
Crozier, T. W., Stalmach, A., Lean, M. E., & Crozier, A. (2012). Espresso coffees, caffeine and chlorogenic acid intake: Potential health implications. Food & Function, 3(1), 30–33. https://doi.org/10.1039/c1fo10240k
Food Standards Australia New Zealand. (2021). Caffeine. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.a…;
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2012). Infant Feeding Guidelines: Information for Health Workers (2015 update). https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/infant-feeding-guideline…