My friend and I were carpooling to work this morning and we somehow got on the topic of motherhood. Neither of us are mothers yet, but hope to be in the future. And I jokingly wished for the day that we could ‘just stay at home and breastfeed all day.’
But then, I recalled some breastfeeding horror stories I’d heard and quickly retracted my wish. Besides it being difficult and tiring, I heard you can’t have wine. And more importantly, you can’t have coffee. This last one really rocks my boat as I am a coffee fiend.
However, I found it equally ironic and relieving to come across a new study today that revealed mothers of newborn babies can drink caffeine without having it interfere with the sleep of their babies. Could it be true? Because if that’s the case, bring on motherhood. Maybe.
As reported in an article by NPR, the study was conducted in Brazil in 2004 and followed the sleep patterns of 885 infants, all of whom but one had mothers who drank caffeine. Most of the women drank a moderate amount of caffeine – either in coffee of tea form – both during and after pregnancy. And 20% consumed more than 300 mg a day. And for reference sake, a Starbucks grande contains about 300 mg of caffeine.
The mothers were interviewed at delivery and three months after to obtain information on their caffeine consumption, as well as ‘sociodemographic, reproductive, and behavioral characteristics.’ What they found is that approximately 14% of the infants were waking up more than three times a night, and 41% were waking up at least once. But moms know this is common in the baby’s first year. And researchers found that the difference between the mothers who were consuming more coffee and those drinking less was insignificant, thus suggesting caffeine consumption was not noticeably affecting the sleep of their babies.
The conclusion? Although the researchers approached the study with the hypothesis that heavy maternal caffeine consumption caused higher infant awakenings, they found otherwise, seemingly disproving the previous assumption that caffeine has negative affects on infant sleep habits.
DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian Mary Hartley, RD, speculates as to why the caffeine may not have affected the babies in the study. “When caffeine enters the bloodstream, a small amount ends up in the breast milk. In the first months of life, the baby can’t breakdown caffeine well and so it can accumulate. But 300 mg seems to be tolerated without problems,” said Mary.
But in some cases, Mary suggests it might be wise to go the decaffeinated route. “Still, keep an eye on it, and if the baby is restless and fussy, mom might want to skip the caffeine.”
So with that in mind, new moms with a coffee habit just need to monitor how their caffeine intake is affecting their little one. And if cutting back seems to help with sleep, they should go that route to ensure mom and baby get the rest they both need.