For a sleep deprived mother coffee becomes life...
The caffeine helps to get through the sleep deprived days. So the question often gets asked how much coffee is too much for the breastfeeding mum.
Statistics show that nearly half (46%) of Australian’s drink coffee and that having children increased the weekly coffee consumption by 2.4 cups (7.2 v 9.6 cups per week).
Most breastfeeding mothers can consume a moderate amount of caffeine (eg a few cups of coffee or tea each day) without it affecting their babies. Caffeine does transfer to breast milk but in very low concentrations (0.06%-1.5% of 300mg of caffeine) Newborn babies however can be particularly sensitive to caffeine. This is because it can take a newborn baby a long time (ie half-life of 50–100 hours) to process caffeine. By 3–4 months, however, it takes a baby only about 3–7 hours. (According to ASN)
Caffeine content in common drinks and food1,2
Caffeine level (mg)
145 mg/50 mL shot
Formulated caffeinated drinks / ‘Energy’ Drinks
up to 80 mg/250 mL can
Instant coffee (1 teaspoon/cup)
60–80 mg/250mL cup
10–50 mg/250mL cup
up to 54 mg/375 mL cup
20 mg/100 g bar
Tips to combine breastfeeding and coffee:
- Pre term or ill infants may experience larger issues with metabolizing caffeine, you may want to limit caffeine intake during these times.
- Studies have shown that ingesting less than 300mg/day of caffeine should not cause issues for infants. Be wary of what products contain caffeine, so you can track how much you have consumed.
- If caffeine affects your sleep, try not drinking any coffee after 2pm. Sleep is essential for health and wellbeing.
- If you find caffeine intake effects your little one, but still need one, try having a coffee as soon as you breastfeed. This gives you the largest amount of time to process the caffeine before feeding again as peak levels occur about 60-120 mins after consumption.
- If caffeine does have an effect on your child, try giving it a few weeks/months and trying again. The half life (time it takes for the body to get rid of half the dose) reduces significantly with age ( eg 97.5 hours for infants- 2.6 hours at 6 + months).
So the take away is you can still enjoy a cuppa but just be mindful of how much you are ingesting.
So you are off to the Hospital to deliver you baby… what are the essential items to pack into the bag?
Packing your pregnancy bag is a job you will either do too early or too late. It's never too early to gather together all the essentials you'll need during labour and birth, and for after your baby is born. Even if you're not planning to have your baby in a hospital or birth centre, you may need to go in unexpectedly, so try to have a bag packed by the time you're about 36 weeks pregnant.
Create a checklist and get ticking :)
What Mum needs for her hospital pregnancy bag:
- Maternity bras
- Nighties including an old one or a large t-shirt to wear in labour. It will probably get a bit messy, so don't buy anything special or tight to wear in hospital.
- Dressing gown. This will be useful if you end up pacing hospital corridors in early labour. You'll probably also want one on the postnatal ward. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better. A dark colour or busy pattern will help hide any stains.
- Casual day clothes: include a pair of leggings that have supportive belly band with non intrusive seams. It helps with the repair of this area.
- Slippers/shoes: Backless slippers that are easy to get on and off. Thongs work well, too.
- Breast pads
- Maternity pads plus lots and lots of undies
- Heat packs. Many hospitals have a limited number of heat packs but are happy for you to bring your own. Check first, though, that your hospital allows microwaved heat packs (some have banned them), and has a microwave available so you can heat the packs.
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Makeup, Hairbrush, Deodorant, Shampoo, Conditioner plus Hairbands, clips or a headband. If you have long hair, you may want it tied up or clipped back. And if your hair is shorter, you can keep it off your face with a soft headband especially during labour.
- Lip balm: your lips can dry out quickly on a warm labour ward and from the air conditioner on the ward.
- Any medications you have been taking (please bring the medication to the hospital to show your admitting doctor and arrange for this medication to be returned home)
- Your Medicare card, details of your health insurance (if you have private insurance) and any hospital paperwork you need. Your birth plan (if you have one) and antenatal card, if you were given one.
- Storage containers for glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, or dentures. Note that your glasses may fog up when you're in the throes of labour, and you won’t be able to wear contacts if you're having a caesarean.
- Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, games, knitting or a tablet. You may also want to download some fun and distracting apps on your phone to keep you occupied during early labour.
- Music device, Phone and charger
- Snacks and drinks for during and after the birth. Most women are able to eat and drink during labour and those early few days of breastfeeding when you can eat anything in sight. The hospital will have food and drink available, but you may prefer to pack a few things that you know you like. Great ideas are: Fruit, unsalted nuts, chips, muesli bars, honey sandwiches or and popcorn are all good options.
Some optional extras depending on the type of birth and/or what you have put into your birthing plan:
- Massage oil or lotion if you'd like to be massaged during labour. You may also like to borrow or invest in a massage roller or similar aid, so your birth partner can massage you for longer.
- Birth ball. This can help you find different positions of labour, and may also help you manage the pain of contractions. Check whether the hospital has the right size for you. If not, take your own. Remember to bring a pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you.
- Oil burner, if you'd like to use aromatherapy oils. Check with your hospital because most have won't allow open flames, but you may be able to use an electric burner.
What baby needs:
- Baby clothes and a blanket to take your baby home in
- Newborn nappies and extra wipes (especially if you like a certain variety)
- Dummy or pacifier if you choose to use one
- Formula, bottles, teats and sterilising equipment, if you plan to formula feed
- Olive, apricot, almond oil for coating baby's bottom before the first nappy goes to make cleaning easier
The sense of smell is very important. Did you know that this sense often gets affected due to depression? Many observe during pregnancy that their sense of smell heightens often making nausea worse so why is it that many suffer a loss of smell in the postanatal stage due to postnatal depression or other mental illness post baby?
"Personally, my husband did not believe me that my sense of smell had gotten so bad due to my postnatal depression and anxiety. Unfortunately now many smells go unnoticed or the degree of the smell needs to be greater in order to sense it..."
So here is why?
Depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder all suppress the sense of smell. The olfactory bulbs is the part of the brain that gives us our sense of smell. Researchers have found that the more severely depressed a person was, the smaller their olfactory bulb. Therefore this suggests that depression may cloud, but not damage, a person's sense of smell. The reduced brain response to odours found in depressed persons may be tied to problems in two closely connected parts of the brain that play an important role in processing emotional information and smell, known as the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.
The effects were present whether or not an individual was taking antidepressant drugs.
It has also been noted that once the depression has been successfully treated the sense of smell/response to smells returned back to their normal levels.
Right now the role of exercise has taken an even higher priority. Not only are people stuck at home, so they have more time to spare. Secondly, mental health has taken a hit and many are struggling with a range of heightened emotions. Research keeps demonstrating that exercise can help to level out the emotional state and is imperative to copying at this time.
An area parents struggle with is finding the time to exercise - but there are ways to do exercise at home and no matter what age the kids are they can be a party to the activity. Not only is it a great bonding exercise but you are also being a role model in showing that exercise is important for mind and body….
Exercise also helps to increase the rate of postnatal recovery, improves muscle tone, circulation, digestion, mood, sleep patterns and so much more. (The list is endless)
As a result of CO-VID19 gyms and recreational centres have closed resulting in all needing to exercise at home or in their local park. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you need fancy equipment to get in a resistance workout. By creating a HIIT style workout you can get a whole body, sweat producing workout that can be changed daily to keep motivation high. Ours normally consists of 6-8 exercises. We do 40-45 sec of work and 15 sec rest- with 30 sec recovery at the end of each circuit.
For example a leg focused workout might look like this:
7 exercises: Knee up, Plank, glute bridge, donkey kick, fire extinguisher, grapevine and sumo squat pulse. 45 sec work, 15 sec rest=7:30 one circuit. (2 circuits =15 min, 4 circuits=30 min etc)
People are also struggling to get equipment because demand is high. The other day we saw a kettlebell advertised for $260…Just because you don’t have equipment or can’t buy at this time doesn’t mean you can’t do resistance workouts. Here are some ideas for creative ways to make your own equipment:
- An upside down saucepan can act as a mini step- use it to do toe taps, travelling pushups, around the world, knee up etc
- Filling an old cushion cover with triple bagged sand/potting mix can be a medicine ball substitute- lift above head, slams, press ups- chest, squats with hugging weight, sit up with weight, lunges etc
- Fill a backpack with those extra cans that you now have stockpiled- all sorts of weighted exercises can be done- walking lunges, squats, bicep curls, press, farmers walk, tricep extensions, jump over burpees
- A chair- tricep dips, step ups, mountain climbers
- A bucket filled with water- 1 L = about 1 kg
- Use chalk to draw an agility ladder - great for cardio speed work , jumping, quick feet
Including your children in your workout is also a possibility.
The World Health Organisations are continuing to learn about the deadly CON-VID19 virus. Like many we are trying to stay abreast of the changing developments to help us to make informed decisions about our health and the families health. Due to this being so new we have a lot to learn and the effect on some/implications is unknown.
One of those areas of the flow on effect is with breastfeeding mothers. What we do know from previous studies is that breastmilk is like liquid gold and helps with the babies immunity- like almost putting a protective bubble around them.
The Centre for Disease Control and Protection outlined the following:
Transmission of COVID-19 through breast milk
Much is unknown about how CONVID-19 is spread. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza (flu) and other respiratory pathogens spread. In limited studies on women with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.
CDC breastfeeding guidance for other infectious illnesses
Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. CDC has no specific guidance for breastfeeding during infection with similar viruses like SARS-CoV or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).
Outside of the immediate postpartum setting, CDC recommends that a mother with flu continue breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk to her infant while taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant.
Guidance on breastfeeding for mothers with confirmed COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, much is unknown about COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendation for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.
So in a time like this it is probably more advantageous then ever to keep breastfeeding babies to give them some immunity to this pandemic.
After the oxytocin wears off….
Let’s be real for a second. Let’s stop and reflect on what you’ve done. YOU GREW A HUMAN! So to me, you are in fact a Superhero! Whether you home or hospital birthed, whether your baby came out through the sunroof or not, whether you breast or bottle feed, your baby is here and earthside because of you. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for that?
From the shitty nappies and vomiting, to PND and sleep schools, to bizarre mothers groups and unsolicited parenting advice, mothering is a right of passage that stretches not just your belly but your soul to grow.
The oxytocin wears off, the delivery of home made meals and new baby gifts stop. You’re neck deep in forever washing and sleepless nights and right there perhaps some doubt about your life direction comes up. You stare in the mirror potentially at this new body you judge and loathe, resenting the biological privilege that just railroaded life as you knew it. And that’s the moment, right there where you can catch yourself, and the negative self talk. Where you connect and redirect with you again (just like you will with your toddler in the years to come, thanks Dr Dan Siegel!) because this is where it gets better.
Yes your pelvic floor will recover, yes they will in fact one day sleep through the night. Yes you will enjoy sex again, wear white, and even another babe if you choose to do so. You’ll be stronger, fitter, wiser and more full of love than ever before.
As a Mother you are the embodiment of grace under pressure. Alongside congratulating yourself for carrying and delivering your babe, celebrate the fact that you are keeping your babe alive! You’ve acquired new skills like being able to pick things up off the floor with the big toe hook and flick method and you now have this quiet understanding of women in a new way that you may not have experienced before.
This babe of yours took time to grow and it takes time for the body to recover and that’s ok. Thank your body. Be kind to her. Love her and celebrate her. The older, wiser me would go back to tell the young new Mum me exactly this today.
CATCH YOURSELF in the now. Be present to the sweetness and stillness of every moment, chaotic, wild and wonderful. Simply feel your feet on ground beneath you and become the witness to the sensations and flow of your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
Affirm and say…
I AM AMAZING.
I AM LOVED, HELD AND SUPPORTED.
I AM AN INCREDIBLE MOTHER.
I AM ENOUGH JUST AS I AM.
And remember the great mothering Mantra, this too shall pass.
Laura is a Mother, Lover, Seeker and Yogini. She wears lycra as part her living! She is SAMA Studio’s Founder and Principal teacher, facilitating Yoga classes, retreats, workshops and Yoga Teacher Training. Find and follow her on the below links or catch her teaching at Ekam Yoga Festival this year:
First introduced to Yoga around 10 years of age and has fond childhood memories of chanting the Gayatri Mantra, meditating, gazing at paintings of Hindu deities and playfully hanging upside down.
By 2007 Laura was a regular student of Yoga. In 2008 her interest in Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness practices led her to taking vows with HH 14th Dalai Lama. Teaching Yoga has been her full-time profession since 2013. She is a Yoga Australia Level 2 registered teacher.
Laura’s motivation to share the gifts the practice brings with others is in service to cultivating and strengthening a greater sense of Kula –Community of Heart. Having experienced first-hand the support a Yoga practice offers in times of trauma, illness and injury, Laura hopes to inspire and connect students to the wisdom and intelligence of their own bodies moving. To feel and know the resiliency and courage of one’s own Spirit.
Known for helping students connect to the intelligence of alignment, she progressively builds students to meet their edges – be it in a flow, alignment or restoration class. She shares in a fun and light-hearted fashion, without skipping the particulars, weaving mythological storytelling and philosophy throughout.