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I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, but after having a baby I welcomed the occasional pick-me-up after a sleepless night. A morning cup of coffee soon became a daily ritual and I knew deep down that it wasn’t serving me. Instead of making me an energized supermom, coffee was leaving me anxious, jittery, and much less patient. Caffeine causes your adrenal glands to produce stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. This can leave you less capable of managing stress, and we all know that motherhood can be a little stressful at times. Excessive caffeine has also been shown to leach calcium and reduce iron absorption, two nutrients that are essential during the postpartum period.
Your coffee consumption may affect you baby as well. Some breastfed babies may be sensitive to caffeine present in mother’s breast milk. Signs of caffeine stimulation in a baby can include being unusually fussy, wide-eyed, overly alert or active, and not staying asleep for long.
How much is too much?
Aiming for 0-150mg is ideal, but it’s best to consume less than 300mg of caffeine a day.
- Coffee (100-200mg, per cup)
- Black tea (60mg, per cup)
- Green tea (30mg, per cup)
- Caffeinated soda (40-80mg per can)
- Some headache medicine (65-130mg per pill)
- Dark chocolate (5-35mg per 1 oz)
Coffee can be especially addictive and giving it up might seem daunting, but these alternatives can provide more consistent energy throughout the day, without the crashes that caffeine can cause.
Matcha still contains caffeine, but a more modest amount. Drinkers of matcha also find it energizing, but without inducing nervousness or crashes. It has impressive antioxidant properties and contains L-theanine, which promotes concentration and clarity.
Try adding ½ tsp of matcha powder to smoothies or wisk into a cup of water, steamed almond milk or milk alternative. Sweeten as desired with stevia or another natural sweetener.
Maca’s health benefits rank high on every new mother’s wish list. This Peruvian root balances hormones, boosts libido, improves mental function, and increases energy.
Try adding 1 tsp of gelatinized powdered maca to smoothies or wisk into a cup of steamed almond milk or milk alternative with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cardamom. Sweeten as desired with stevia or another natural sweetener.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth the reminder as dehydration can lead to fatigue. Increasing water consumption is especially important for breastfeeding mothers and they should aim to drink a big glass of water during every nursing session.
Try brewing a big batch of herbal tea, let it cool, and then drink it throughout the day. Also try infusing your water to encourage you to drink more. Use grapefruit, strawberry, lemon, cucumber, mint, basil or rosemary.
A Balanced Breakfast
It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s true. Typical breakfast foods are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, which can cause energy crashes and lead to increased cravings for sugar. Convenience foods in the morning may seem appealing for busy mothers, but there are ways to keep breakfast fast, easy and still nutrient dense. A mindful, well-balanced meal in the morning can help balance blood sugar, energy, moods and even hormones.
Try including sufficient protein and fat with your morning meal to provide lasting energy. Avoid processed cereals, pastries, muffins and most commercial granola bars.