Is It Safe To Eat Chocolate While Breastfeeding?

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Chocolate is a delicious treat that many people love to relish. Therefore, craving for chocolate while breastfeeding isn’t uncommon for nursing women. But since chocolates contain caffeine, nursing mothers would contemplate if they can eat some chocolate or avoid it entirely.

Caffeine is a psychostimulant, which can pass through breast milk to your baby when consumed in excess. Since babies have sensitive bodies, even small amounts of caffeine can make them irritable, fussy, and sleepless.

Keep reading as we give you an insight into different components of chocolate, how caffeine affects babies, and should you avoid chocolate-mixed foods when lactating.

Components Of Chocolate

  • Chocolate hardly needs an introduction! It is typically a sweet, usually brown-flavored, food prepared from roasted and grounded Theobroma cacao seeds.
  • The main ingredients of chocolate are chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and added sugar.
  • It contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, water, caffeine, cholesterol, and theobromine.
Nutritional fact
Dark chocolates are a source of iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus (5).

Can You Eat Chocolate While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can eat chocolate when breastfeeding. But limit it to moderate amounts as it is high in fats and sugars and has little nutritive value. A breastfeeding mother needs to eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit. You may consume sugar and processed foods in small amounts as occasional ‘treats’. This will keep you healthy and energetic enough to take care of your baby.

If the nursing baby shows side effects such as the below, avoid chocolate.

  • Restlessness
  • Rashes (due to an allergy of dairy products)
Avoid chocolate while breastfeeding if the baby shows side effects such as rashes

Image: Shutterstock

If your baby shows any of these side effects, stop chocolate consumption temporarily and see if your baby recovers; else see a pediatrician.

Caffeine In Chocolate And Breastfeeding

  • Chocolate may affect a nursing baby for many reasons but caffeine in it is believed to be the primary one.
  • Less than 1% of caffeine that enters the mother’s bloodstream ends up in breast milk and would be at peak after an hour of consumption.
  • A baby’s system takes longer time to clear caffeine and high intake by the mother could make babies irritable.
  • Moreover, a breastfeeding mother may find caffeine affecting her let-down reflex or making nipple vasospasm worse, in case she has it (1).
DessertsAmountCaffeine
Dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa solids)1oz23mg
Milk chocolate1.55oz9mg
Coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt8oz2mg
Hot cocoa8oz8-12mg
Chocolate chips, semisweet4oz53mg
Chocolate milk8oz5-8mg

Why High Caffeine Intake Irritates Breastfeeding Baby?

The high half life of caffeine in infants makes sleeping difficult

Image: Shutterstock

Half-life is the time required for the concentration of a substance in the body to become half. The half-life of caffeine is high in infants, and makes it difficult for them to fall asleep (2).

Theobromine In Chocolate And Breastfeeding

Theobromine is not a cause of worry for the nursing baby if the mother eats normal amounts of chocolate. A study has found that if a mother ate a 4-ounce chocolate bar every six hours and the baby is breastfed when the theobromine concentration in milk was at its peak, the baby could ingest about 10mg of theobromine a day (3).

Is Dark Chocolate Or White Chocolate Good During Breastfeeding?

Small amounts of dark chocolate is better than white chocolate. Dark chocolate has lesser sugar than white chocolate and contains flavonoids, which is good for your heart (4). White chocolate is highly processed and contains high levels of sugar.

Nutritional fact
Dark chocolate contains around two to three times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate (5).

Should Chocolate-Mixed Foods Be Avoided When Breastfeeding?

Take nutriitous diet if you are taking chocolate mixed foods occasionally

Image: Shutterstock

  • Chocolate-mixed foods like chocolate cookies, chocolate ice creams, chocolate cakes, or chocolate almond milk can be taken occasionally. But remember that you need to take nutritious food to maintain your health as well as provide the essential nutrients to your baby.
  • A few babies may be intolerant to cow’s milk or show up egg allergies. In such cases you need to avoid dairy and egg products, including chocolate.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much caffeine can I consume while breastfeeding?

Every baby’s caffeine tolerance is different, and so you should adjust your intake based on your baby’s acceptance. Watch your baby for signs of irritability or inability to fall asleep.

2. Can I take chocolate laxative while breastfeeding?

A few medications like chocolate laxative pass into breastmilk. Consult your doctor before using them.

3. Can I drink hot chocolate during breastfeeding?

You may limit it to one cup a day or take it in moderate amount to limit the caffeine intake.

Breastfeeding can leave one hungry and craving some chocolates. Nursing mothers maybe want to be sure before consuming chocolates while breastfeeding because of their caffeine content. However, moderation is the key, as too much chocolate may lead to caffeine passing through the breastmilk. Moreover, chocolate is rich in sugar and fats, and therefore it is good to indulge in just occasional bites. Dark chocolate may be a better choice as compared to white chocolate.

Infographic: Side Effects Of Eating Excess Chocolate While Breastfeeding

Now that your pregnancy is over, do not go berserk about eating chocolate excessively. This is because whatever you eat while breastfeeding, including the chocolates, affects the baby. So, look through the infographic below to learn about various side effects your baby may face if you eat excess chocolate.

potential hazards of eating excess chocolate when nursing [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Breastfeeding and maternal caffeine consumption.
    https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/breastfeeding-and-maternal-caffeine-consumption
  2. A Nehlig and G Debry; (1994); Consequences on the newborn of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during gestation and lactation: a review.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8157856/
  3. B H Resman et al.; (1977); Breast milk distribution of theobromine from chocolate.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/894424/
  4. CHOCOLATE.
    https://mat.miracosta.edu/MAT125_Faulk_online/4DOWNLOAD/imagesFor4/Choc.html
  5. Dark Chocolate.
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

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