New moms can enjoy coffee or a cocktail in moderation without harming newborns - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

New moms can enjoy coffee or a cocktail in moderation without harming newborns

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Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:53 am | Updated: 7:07 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Nine months may be a long time for some expecting moms to go without a glass of wine or their favorite latte. But the baby’s arrival doesn’t automatically give the all-clear to indulge again.

Mothers considering breast-feeding need to be careful about drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, lactation experts say: The effects can be troublesome to newborns, who run the risk of becoming extremely agitated to extremely drowsy, depending upon how much they are exposed to.


Alcohol can be transmitted through breast milk rapidly, typically getting into the breast milk supply 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, says Merrie Rheingans, clinical manager for lactation services at Banner Children’s Hospital in Mesa. Its effect is relative to the amount the mother took in.

Side effects from too much alcohol in a baby’s system can run the range of intoxication and drowsiness to weakness and weight gain. “If a mother has one drink or less in a day, it probably won’t harm the baby,” says Rheingans, who recommends the mother pump and discard the batch of breast milk right after having the drink if she is unable to wait two to three hours until the next feeding (alcohol will pass freely through the mother’s body in that two- to three-hour window).

And what about that old wives’ tale about drinking beer to produce more breast milk? Not so, says Mary Wisneski, a licensed practical nurse and certified lactation educator in Mesa, who says it’s better to wait until after the feeding to indulge.


Mothers also should limit their intake of caffeinerich products — everything from coffee to soft drinks, chocolate and even some cold medications.

Moms should limit their overall intake to less than 750 milliliters a day, suggests Rheingans. For coffee, that translates to about 25 ounces of java — the brewed kind, that is. Espressos, Rheingans points out, are stronger.

If a mother doesn’t watch her caffeine intake, the child will most likely become hyperalert, overstimulated and fussy, Rheingans says. Those effects, say experts, can last for a while.

“If a baby gets too much caffeine, it will take them seven times longer to clear it from their system than it will take the mother,” says Wisneski, who recommends drinking that morning cup of coffee after a feeding, rather than before.

Learn more

Baby, Mother & More hosts a free breastfeeding class for expectant moms 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. every other Saturday. The next class is scheduled for April 21 at the store, 1235 S. Gilbert Road, Mesa. (480) 964-0987.

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