Can You Drink Decaf Coffee While Breastfeeding?

Image: Shutterstock

What is a luxury? Luxury is relaxing in the morning watching the sunrise and sipping a hot cup of coffee. How to relieve stress? Have a cup of coffee. How to fight sleepiness at work? Gulp down some coffee.

Coffee is so omnipotent that most of us can’t close our day without drinking at least one cuppa. But when you are breastfeeding, you have several sacrifices to make, and coffee is definitely one of them.

Isn’t it difficult to cut your lifeline, coffee, because you are breastfeeding? It is difficult, but you have to. However, the good news is you have an alternative which is as good as coffee.

MomJunction tells you why decaf is the alternative (1), what nutritional values it has and then also explain why caffeine can be bad for you and the baby when breastfeeding.

But first, let’s see why you can drink decaf coffee but not the regular coffee.

Caffeine Levels In Regular Coffee And Decaf Coffee

The average caffeine content in an 8oz brewed cup of coffee is 95mg, while average caffeine content in decaf coffee is about 3mg. It means, decaf coffee is not caffeine-free but contains a lesser amount of caffeine than coffee.

The reason is, decaf coffee is produced after processing the coffee beans to remove at least 97% caffeine. Caffeine from the beans is removed with the help of solvents like water, carbon dioxide or organic solvents. The beans are then roasted and ground.

Also, the level of caffeine depends on the type, cup size, and the preparation method.

According to a study, a cup of decaf (180ml or 6oz) has 0 to 7mg caffeine, while a cup of regular coffee has 70 to 140mg (2).

This Table Shows The Caffeine Levels In Various Coffee Types

The following is provided to assist consumers in understanding the contribution of various foods to caffeine intakes.

Serving Size
(unless otherwise
Milligrams of
(approximate values)
Roasted and ground, percolated
Roasted and ground, filter drip
Roasted and ground, decaffeinated
76 – 106
Instant decaffeinated


Nutritional Value Of Decaf Coffee

The nutritional value of decaf is the same as that of coffee.

Just like the regular coffee, decaf contains antioxidants, but some percentage (15%) may be lost during the decaffeination process. The primary antioxidants in decaffeinated coffee are hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. Other minor elements in decaf include 4.8% of potassium, 2.4% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 2.5% of niacin, or vitamin B3.

When the nutritional values are almost the same, then why should you shift to decaf coffee, at all? You might want to enjoy your regular cup, right?

Not right, because the higher content of caffeine (that is present in the regular coffee) can have some adverse effects on you and your baby.

Effects Of Caffeine On Breastfeeding

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, moderate caffeine consumption during breastfeeding, which is two to three cups or 300mg a day, should have no effect on a nursing baby (3).

  • Caffeine may get accumulated in nursing babies if their mothers consume it at high levels, i.e., 750mg or more a day. But some babies who are highly sensitive to caffeine may show crankiness or turn colic even at lower levels.
  • Babies cannot eliminate caffeine from the body, resulting in irritability, jitteriness, insomnia, and constipation.
  • Caffeine is diuretic in nature and causes dehydration in nursing mothers.
  • Chronic caffeine ingestion by the nursing mother could lessen the iron content in her milk.
  • Caffeine consumption may affect the let-down reflex (the milk ejection from the breasts) of a nursing mother with nipple vasospasm.

Now you know why decaf is better than coffee. The low caffeine levels in decaf coffee should not pose any harm to breastfed babies as less than 1% of caffeine ingested by the mother ends up in the breast milk. However, this depends on the infant’s tolerance levels.

Are you asking us, “Why take a risk, I might as well avoid coffee completely.”? Then, let’s tell you that’s not required.

Nursing Moms Can Have Caffeine

The American Academy of Pediatrics has categorized caffeine to be usually compatible with lactation. As a nursing mother, you need not avoid it completely. Drinking decaf coffee during breastfeeding is perfectly acceptable.

Mothers also need to remember that caffeine is found in many other food sources like soda, chocolate, tea, and more. If decaf coffee is consumed along with caffeine- containing foods, then caffeine levels in breast milk could rise.

For further assurance, talk to your doctor and take her advice.

Have you tried decaf while breastfeeding? How is the taste? Share your experience with us.

Recommended Articles:

Was this information helpful?