If you are a nursing mother, you might want to know if it is safe to drink green tea when breastfeeding. Green tea has been reported to contain certain amounts of caffeine, antioxidants, and polyphenols. Excess consumption of caffeine by a lactating mother might cause lethargy and other adverse conditions. However, consuming green tea in the right amount can improve digestion and make you feel fresh and energized.
Read on to know about the benefits of green tea and the recommended intake quantity during breastfeeding.
Can You Drink Green Tea While Breastfeeding?
Yes, it is safe to drink green tea when consumed in moderate amounts as it will not have any side effects on the baby. Though there is little scientific evidence backing this claim, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports it (1).
However, you must select green teas that contain only tea and no other ingredients. The effects of the added herbs in herbal green teas are unknown and could be adverse to an infant. Bottled green tea is also safe as long it is only tea without artificial additives. Sticking to plain green tea is the best way to enjoy the beverage when you are breastfeeding. But, it does not mean that you can drink a cup every hour.
How Much Green Tea Is Safe When Breastfeeding?
Only two cups per day, with each cup of about 237ml, is safe. Green tea is rich in several antioxidants, but it also contains caffeine. There is about 29mg of caffeine in a single cup (237ml) while the daily caffeine allowance (from all beverages) during lactation must not be more than 700mg (2). Experts suggest staying way under the upper limit and limiting the consumption of any caffeinated beverage (including green tea) to two cups a day.
Keep in mind that you could be consuming other caffeinated foods such as chocolate, coffee, and soda. Therefore, you will have to adjust your green tea intake in such a way that the total caffeine intake from multiple sources does not exceed the permissible limits.
Exceeding the limits could harm your baby.
What Happens If You Consume Green Tea In Excess?
Drinking too much green tea causes surplus caffeine to transfer into breast milk leading to side effects in the baby:
Less than 1% of the caffeine filters into your breast milk (4) but some babies are more sensitive to caffeine because of lower tolerance. Be watchful for any signs of side effects even when you consume green tea within safe limits.
Also, there is a belief that excess green tea can reduce breastmilk production. That brings us to the next question.
Does Green Tea Reduce Breastmilk?
There is no scientific evidence stating that green tea reduces breastmilk production or dries it up completely. However, a chemical called tannin found naturally in tea may interfere with iron absorption in the body. It occurs when excess green tea is consumed with iron-rich foods (5) such as green leafy vegetables. There is no impact when consumed with animal-based iron foods such as meat (6). But, to be on the safe side avoid drinking green tea with meals, and give a gap of three hours between a meal and green tea.
Can You Drink Decaf Green Tea While Breastfeeding?
Yes, you can drink decaffeinated green tea. Green tea is processed to eliminate a substantial quantity of caffeine. Decaf green tea is not entirely free of caffeine as it contains about 2-5mg of caffeine per cup (237ml). Each decaf green tea maker has different levels of caffeine elimination. Therefore, check the label for precise levels of residual caffeine content, and regulate the number of cups accordingly.
Can you drink matcha tea while breastfeeding?
Yes, matcha tea is safe while breastfeeding. It is a finely grounded green tea that originated in China, and is processed in ways that give it higher caffeine content than regular green tea (7). Different grades of matcha have different levels of caffeine content, but it is usually thrice the standard green tea. A cup (237ml) of matcha green tea can contain about 77mg of caffeine. So, remember to adjust your caffeine consumption from other sources accordingly.
Can You Take Green Tea Pills While Breastfeeding?
It is best to avoid green tea pills and capsulated green tea extracts since you may accidentally consume more caffeine than two cups of green tea. Green tea capsules are available in different strengths (8). A single pill will keep you within safe limits of caffeine consumption, but may still exceed the quantity derived from two cups of green tea. Check the label of green tea pills to know the precise level of caffeine in each capsule.
Does Theanine In Green Tea Affect Breastfeeding?
There is no scientific evidence to substantiate either the negative or the positive effects of theanine on breastfeeding. Theanine is a type of non-essential amino acid found in abundance in green tea leaves (9).
Green tea is a refreshing drink with many health benefits and can be consumed during breastfeeding. Since green tea, while breastfeeding, may pass into the milk, you should consume it within safe limits and watch how it affects your baby. Moreover, it is better to drink only plain green tea because you may not know how the additives might affect your baby. It has also been found that excess green tea may interfere with iron absorption in the body, so do not drink your tea along with meals. If you follow the preventive tips and keep your consumption at moderate levels, you can easily enjoy green tea while breastfeeding.
- Katarzyna Budzynska et al.; (2013); Complementary Holistic and Integrative Medicine: Advice for Clinicians on Herbs and Breastfeeding.
- Iná S. Santos et al.; (2012); Maternal Caffeine Consumption and Infant Nighttime Waking: Prospective Cohort Study.
- A breastfeeding mother’s diet for an infant with colic.
- Alcohol & Breast Milk.
- Frank S. Fan; (2016); Iron deficiency anemia due to excessive green tea drinking.
- P B Disler et al.; (1975); The effect of tea on iron absorption.
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