Coffee is the typical beverage that epitomizes transition into motherhood. It’s the primary rite of passage when a woman realizes she can no longer survive her newfound responsibilities without it. Unfortunately, most first time mom’s have no idea how coffee can mess with breastfeeding, amongst other things. But first, let’s talk breastfeeding.
With my first, no one ever warned me. I found out the hard way, with my then two month old daughter, who had suddenly started getting horrible colic and reflux from what seemed out of nowhere. A sweet friend had given me the gift of energy: some of her precious homemade roasted coffee beans. I’ve always liked the aroma of coffee, but until that moment I had never been a coffee drinker myself. She was quick to convert me, as she opened her hand to expose beautiful pre-roasted green glory before handing me a cup of smooth black goodness. I reminisced my college years, studying inside Starbucks on cold rainy days. I guess a part of me wanted that back. I wanted to feel a little like myself again.
She meant well. But I wish someone had given me some insight on how to drink coffee without the heartache. I learned so much through the process that I’d thought I’d share it in hopes of giving mom’s an easier transition than my own.
- Acidity: Some babies are very sensitive to the acidity in coffee, especially if it’s a green and roasted bean. The flavor is more “burnt” like, which is exactly why I loved my friends’ cup of coffee. Supposedly, this is also way that Starbucks chooses their beans too. An avid coffee drinker told me she read a study that said the acidity of the coffee has a lot to do with the maturity of the bean and it’s roasting process. Drinking this type of coffee can potentially give babies reflux and/or gas pains. This may mess with nursing because some babies will learn to associate breastfeeding with pain. The may learn to drink less. They less they drink, the less likely you are to produce enough milk. The less they eat, the crankier they get. The crankier they get, the worse they sleep. The worse they sleep, the less they eat. The less they eat, the more stressed out you get. The more stressed out you get, the less milk you may produce. As you can see, once you get on this vicious cycle the breastfeeding relationship becomes strained.
- Possible Solution: Choose Cold Brew Coffee’s or a watered down Americano. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, try the French Roast Low Acid Coffee. Did you know that blonde brews are more acidic and may have more caffeine!?
- Hydration: Some people say coffee doesn’t dehydrate you, while others claim that it does. However, because it’s a natural diuretic it will make you pee more. When you pee more, you lose more fluids. If you’re already dehydrated, your body might have a harder time producing enough milk. I’m not a professional, but it I believe our bodies need fluids to make fluids. Isn’t that why they tell you to increase your water intake if you want to produce more milk? I think yes.
- Possible Solution: Drink at least 2 cups of water before or immediately after drinking coffee. (* I’ve also noticed that being hydrated helps keep a consistent caffeine buzz.)
- Lactose: Most women I know prefer their coffee with some type of dairy & sweetener. Some babies are very sensitive to lactose found in diary products, such as milk, half and half, or creamer. Babies that can’t pass gas yet will end up with trapped gas. I honestly don’t know what’s worse because both reflux and gas pains are horribly painful for babies. Mix that with the high acid and you’re in for a horrible day once you get on that vicious cycle.
- Possible Solution: Drink it black. Or use Almond Milk, Coconut milk, or if you still like a thicker creamer I recommend the Califia Almond Creamer.
- Hunger: I personally believe that when, how, and the speed in which you drink coffee makes all the difference. Sometimes caffeine can help suppress your hunger. This is a great tool if you want to lose body fat. Sometimes though, if you drink too much coffee, too quickly, on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning it’ll make you very hungry. This might not affect your supply, but it might be the reason you’re not seeing the scale budge, which is a completely different subject. However, if you’re a bit more aware you’ll find that the slower you drink it, the less likely you are to eat. Then around 3 pm your baby may be fussier than usual . What’s happening? It’s possible your body needed more food to make milk that morning and because you didn’t eat it couldn’t make enough. If you’re eating at an extreme deficit, which means that you’re eating significantly less than you’re supposed to, this can put your body in panic mode and send out anti-stress hormones (cortisol) to balance out the internal chaos your body thinks it’s undergoing. In this panic mode, your body cannot make enough milk for your baby because it’s “stressed out” and so the crazy cycle begins.
- Possible Solution: Drink your coffee slowly, during specific hours (when cortisol is lower), well hydrated, and after a satisfying breakfast. Also, limit your caffeine intake to 1 cup daily, 2 at the most.
- Sleep: When you sleep, your body restores & fixes itself. It balances & repairs whatever needs attention, including regulating your hormones. It’s one of the reasons sleep is one of my highest priorities. If you’re not getting enough and think you can compensate with mugs of coffee, you may be making matters worse. Not only are you increasing your tolerance to caffeine, you may also be adding to the list of problems above which will continuously keep your cortisol levels high all the time. If you don’t give your body a chance to recover it will wreck havoc. You’ll notice that coffee will make you wired, but not energized. The best way to describe the way it makes me feel is like a feeling of strong hunger like anxiety. You’ll notice that no matter how healthy you eat, you’re not losing weight. You’ll notice too, that you’re just tosing & turning at night, waking up a groggy mess. In fact, drinking more coffee may be the primary reason you’re not feeling rested after sleeping at night.
- Possible Solution: Do a de-load week to decrease tolerance. This will vary from person to person, but if you drink 2 cups per day, drink 1/8 cup less every day until the following week. Then that week start at 1 cup instead and try to keep it that way for as long as possible. If you feel it too quickly, you probably haven’t eaten enough protein/fats or you drank it too quickly. Do what feels best for you. Only you know your body the best.
Currently, I’m enjoying an iced caramel latte made at home using:
- 1.5 cups Califia Salted Caramel Coffee
- 1/2 tsp of Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee
- 1 tsp of Kirkland Maple Syrup.
- I cup ice
I start drinking it around 10 and finish it about 1.5 hours later.