When you have a baby, you start paying close attention to what you are consuming. You know that what you eat and drink will affect the quality of your breastmilk, as well as what the milk is made up of. That is why women who are nursing are often told to avoid certain medications—like antibiotics—as well as alcohol and caffeine.
But what about green tea, a beverage with purported health benefits? Although green tea contains far less caffeine than coffee and some caffeinated sodas, is it really safe for you to consume while breastfeeding?
Here is everything you need to know to answer the question, “Is green tea safe to drink during breastfeeding?”
Breastfeeding and Drinking Fluids
Water is known as the best source of hydration for new mothers, which is why it is recommended to drink plenty of it. However, you will eventually grow bored of plain water all the time and crave a little variety. When this happens, you might turn towards green tea, since it’s full of antioxidants and comes in hundreds of flavors. But caffeine, as well as additives in pre-made green tea, such as bottled varieties, can contain unhealthy additives that will pass through your body into the breastmilk and be ingested by your baby.
How Caffeine Affects Breastfeeding
As you may know, doctors and pediatricians are against giving younger children caffeine. The same belief applies to infants, too. Although research has not detected any life-threatening issues brought about by caffeine consumption, caffeine is an addictive stimulant and can have painful side effects when consumed in excess.
Caffeine builds up in the body, especially when it is ingested continuously throughout the day. Generally, one serving of caffeine will remain live in your system for 5-20 hours, depending on your body fat percentage, what medications you use, and if you have other medical issues.
Newborns exposed to caffeine cannot process it quickly, so caffeine stays around in their bodies for even longer than it does in an adult. This means that you could be dealing with the negative side effects for a while.
Is Green Tea Safe To Drink During Nursing?
Yes, green tea in moderation is safe to drink when you are breastfeeding. There is no caffeine in a single serving to affect your baby. Green tea does not have as much caffeine as other drink options, like coffee. One regular 8-ounce serving of green tea has around 24-45 mg of caffeine, whereas brewed coffee contains around 95-200 mg.
How Much Green Tea Is Safe To Drink?
Doctors and pediatricians say that 1-3 servings of green tea is perfectly allowable during nursing. No negative effects should be experienced by your newborn. Do not consume more than 300 mg of caffeine a day when breastfeeding.
That said, even if you are drinking decaffeinated coffee, you might be sipping on hot chocolate, fizzy drinks, and other beverages that could contain some caffeine, which means you may be consuming more than you realize. Keep that in mind when considering what to drink.
You should also check the box of green tea to see if the amount of caffeine per serving is listed on the nutritional panel. This will help you select the best green tea with the lowest amount of caffeine. Optionally, you can choose decaffeinated green teas. Though decaffeinated beverages do contain caffeine, it is usually around 2-5 mg per serving.
What About Bottled Green Teas?
As mentioned earlier, bottled green teas may seem like a convenient drink option—but you should avoid them. These beverages often contain infused water, not actual green tea, and have added sugars, herbal extracts, and other chemicals to give them flavor. Always read the labels of bottled green tea in the store. Stay clear of anything with too much sugar. Also, keep away from anything unsafe, such as ginseng or ginkgo biloba, two herbal extracts that are sometimes added for “energy.” Neither is safe for breastfeeding women.
What Happens If I Drink Too Much Caffeine During Breastfeeding?
Since only 1 percent of the caffeine you consume enters your breastmilk, drinking in moderation will have little to no effect on your milk. There is also no proof that drinking green tea will reduce or stop lactation. However, you should be careful when consuming green tea alongside iron-rich foods. Green tea may hinder iron absorption.
But happens if you accidentally drink way more caffeine than the suggested limit of 300 mg? You may not feel any side effects, but you will notice the following symptoms in your newborn:
- Disturbed sleep
- Frequent urination
- Infantile colic
The instant you notice these symptoms, discontinue your caffeine intake. In the event that you know you consumed too much, “pump and dump” for about 24 hours and use any reserved milk instead.
Green Tea Alternatives That Are Safe To Drink
Worried that you might consume way too much caffeine and want alternatives? There are plenty of options out there to satisfy your craving. Here are some alternatives with little to no caffeine per serving:
- White tea
- Rose hip tea
- Dandelion tea
- Peppermint tea
- Chamomile tea
- Ginger tea
- Decaffeinated black tea
So, can you drink green tea when breastfeeding? Yes! A cup or two throughout the day is not going to harm your newborn or affect your breastmilk. If you are craving some caffeine, then you don’t have to deny yourself. Just remember to limit your intake, and if you think that you may have gone overboard with caffeine, you can simply plan beforehand and refrigerate or freeze some breastmilk.
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