Can You Drink Decaf Coffee While Breastfeeding?

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Decaf coffee is a popular alternative to regular coffee that contains less caffeine but has the same aroma and flavor. As experts advise nursing mothers to limit their caffeine intake, you would want to know if drinking decaf coffee while breastfeeding is a safe option. Knowing this is essential as regardless of the content in your coffee, it still has some caffeine that may affect sensitive babies (1).

Read on as we tell you more about the safety of decaf coffee during lactation, its nutritional value, and its effects on you and your baby. But before we understand how caffeine affects breastfeeding moms and their babies, let’s first understand the difference between decaf coffee and 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.

Product
Serving Size
(unless otherwise
stated)
Milligrams of
Caffeine
(approximate values)
oz
ml
Coffee
Brewed
8
237(1cup)
135
Roasted and ground, percolated
8
237
118
Roasted and ground, filter drip
8
237
179
Roasted and ground, decaffeinated
8
237
3
Instant
8
237
76 – 106
Instant decaffeinated
8
237
5

Source: www.hc-sc.gc.ca

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.
  • 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 limiting your caffeine consumption is important. ther Are you asking us, “Why take a risk, I might as well avoid coffee completely”? We can assure 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 don’t need to avoid it completely. Drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day or 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.

Decaf coffee while breastfeeding is a better alternative to regular coffee. Decaf coffee can be a treat to your taste buds since it has a similar aroma and flavor of regular coffee with less caffeine content. There won’t be any harmful effects on breastfed babies if they have low caffeine levels. Diarrhea, irritability, insomnia, and constipation in babies can be after-effects of excess caffeine intake by nursing mothers. You may limit or reduce caffeine intake while breastfeeding since it reaches through breast milk in babies, and they cannot eliminate it from the body.

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Rebecca Koyf

(IBCLC, CLC)
Rebecca Koyf is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC),Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and a LaLeche League volunteer. She has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and worked as an Auditor for the NYC Comptroller’s Office for 8 years. Her own breastfeeding struggles made her change her career and pursue the field in lactation. She has her... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more