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Is It Safe To Donate Blood While Breastfeeding?

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Have you ever donated blood before you were pregnant? Are you planning to start donating blood again, especially now that your baby is born and you are not pregnant anymore?

If you are breast feeding your baby, you may be worried whether if it is safe to go ahead and donate blood. While blood donation requires you to be fit and healthy yourself, there are certain rules that apply to breastfeeding mothers.

Is It Safe To Donate Blood While Breastfeeding?

Donating blood is a very good initiative, one that should be practiced regularly if you are healthy to do so. However, when you are a breastfeeding mother, there are certain things you need to look into to ensure it does not affect your baby.

Is it ok to donate blood while breastfeeding? This is a topic that doctors and medical experts are divided upon. Another point of contention is to agree what is a good time to start donating, especially if you are breast feeding.

While you are breastfeeding, it is important to ensure that both you and your baby are getting the right nutrients. The best person who can guide you about if you should go ahead and donate blood is your doctor. In addition, your doctor will guide you depending on which country you reside in and your overall health, as well as that of your baby.

According to the American Red Cross, you should not donate blood till at least six weeks after the delivery (1). Post that, your health needs are to be evaluated again by your doctor. Depending on this you can donate blood.

The guidelines of the American Red Cross are different from the guidelines of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. According to their guidelines, you are not eligible to donate blood till the time your baby is mostly weaned off (2). You may be allowed to donate blood once your baby is getting most of the nutrition from other solid foods.

Things To Consider While Donating Blood During Breastfeeding Period:

You may be eligible for donating blood while breastfeeding, but you need to first check with your doctor about the pros and cons. Your doctor will first test you for anemia. You should be absolutely healthy and medically fit before your doctor can give you a go ahead.

When you donate blood, it can make you feel drowsy and lightheaded. In some cases, it can also make you feel severely dehydrated or tired. It is very important that you are well hydrated before you decide to go for the blood donation. Your breast milk is made up of 87 percent water (3). While donating blood, 16 ounces of your blood will be removed from your body. This means that your body will suddenly lose a lot of liquid. Hence it is imperative to eat a big and nutritious meal before you donate blood.

In addition, you should also stay hydrated before and after you have donated blood. As you are still breastfeeding, it is a good idea to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Once you have donated blood, you should not lift any heavy objects, especially with the arm which was used to take out the blood. This is to prevent any possible injury and to avoid any fall, in case you are feeling dizzy. If your baby is a little older or heavy, this could be a tricky situation as you may not be able to avoid picking up your baby.

A Few Points To Remember:

According to the American Red Cross, here are a few things you should remember when you are going to donate blood:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear comfortable clothes where you can roll up your sleeves easily
  • Eat iron rich foods for weeks before you are planning to donate
  • Carry a list of all the medicines you may be taking
  • Carry any two types of ID
  • Take someone along
  • Relax

Donating blood is something very good. But as a breastfeeding mother, you first need to ensure that you and your baby’s health is well taken care of. Speak to your doctor and check with the blood donation agency.

 

In case you are not allowed to donate blood right now, you can always do it once your baby is off breast feeding!

Hope you liked or post on whether is it safe to donate blood while breastfeeding. What are your thoughts on donating blood during pregnancy or otherwise, please share them with us by commenting below. In addition, share this article among your friends and family.

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Baby Breastfeeding

Is It Safe To Take Caffeine While Breastfeeding?

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Giving in to all your food cravings can be an issue when you are breastfeeding because what goes into your diet goes into your breast milk too. Not all foods that you have may end up in the breast milk, but most do. Caffeine is one such food that is craved for by a lot of women. It is a part of many day-to-day foods that is debated upon for its safety and consumption when you are breastfeeding.

As per the guidelines from Medications and Mother’s Milk, caffeine falls under the Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer) category. It was classified as a ‘Maternal Medication Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding’ by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, caffeine has been directly given as treatment for breathing problems in premature babies for years, that too in much higher amounts compared to what is found in the breastmilk! MomJunction helps you understand all about caffeine and breastfeeding, how much to take and when to avoid.

Does Caffeine Affect Breast Milk?

Yes, caffeine gets into breast milk! Once you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is rapidly absorbed into your blood, and diffuses passively across the epithelial layers of the mammary glands. But, very low levels (less than 1% of what is consumed) may end up in the breast milk and clinically significant amount of caffeine is not found. Caffeine appears in the milk within 15 minutes of intake, while the concentration levels would be at its peak after an hour (1).

Dr. SK Gambhir of Paras Bliss hospital in Delhi says that the effect on breast milk stays for a maximum of 120 minutes.

Are Babies Sensitive To Caffeine Intake Of Nursing Mother?

Some babies, especially those under six months of age, may be sensitive to mother’s caffeine intake. More reactions can be observed in nursing infants whose mothers entirely avoided caffeine during pregnancy (2).

Caffeine may get accumulated in breastfeeding babies if their mothers consume high amounts and can cause irritability, insomnia, and constipation. The accumulation is due to the inability of the baby’s body to break down and eliminate caffeine.

Newborns take more time to metabolize caffeine compared to older infants because of their immature liver and kidneys. Preterm or sick infants may also have problems because of their inability to metabolize caffeine.

Age Group Half Life (Hours)
Premature neonates (3-32 days) 102.9
Term neonates (0-4 days) 80.0
Young Infants
1-2 1/2 Months 26.3
3-4 1/2 Months 14.2
5-6 Months 2.6
Adults
Non Smokers 6.0
Smokers 3.5

 

*Half-Life is the time taken for a substance to become half inside a human body.

Even though babies show sensitivity to caffeine, it may disappear as they grow older. Babies will begin to process caffeine more efficiently at about three months of age (3), and it would become much easier over time. By the time the baby is nine months old, he would develop the ability to eliminate caffeine at the same rate as you do!

How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Breastfeeding?

According to Dr. SK Gambhir, a breastfeeding mother needs to limit her caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day.

An acceptable amount of caffeine while breastfeeding varies based on factors like baby’s health, age, and tolerance levels. Moreover, caffeine is diuretic and causes dehydration, and it is important to be hydrated particularly while nursing. Thus, it is advisable to limit caffeine consumption while breastfeeding with not more than two or three cups of tea, coffee, or caffeine beverage each day (4).

In the US, not more than 200mg caffeine a day is recommended for breastfeeding mothers. It comes to about two mugs of tea or one mug of filter coffee or two mugs of instant coffee, a day. NHS recommends that you have caffeine drinks occasionally, rather than every day, if your baby is young.

As per the Breastfeeding Answer Book, caffeine consumption of over 750 mg per day by nursing mothers may result in babies showing signs of caffeine stimulation, such as:

  • wakefulness
  • fussiness
  • activeness
  • alertness
  • wide-eyed
  • less sleep hours
  • colic

Ways To Decrease Caffeine Stimulation

If you observe signs of caffeine stimulation in your baby, avoid caffeine for two to three weeks and check the difference. Reintroduce to observe if the baby shows irritability.

Few ways to decrease caffeine stimulation are:

  • Limiting the consumption of caffeine while nursing
  • Spreading the coffee intake over the course of the day
  • Breastfeeding before or after an hour of caffeine ingestion or pumping breast milk
  • Monitoring the baby’s reaction when exposed or withdrawn from caffeine consumption
  • Taking few glasses of water after caffeine consumption to dilute its effect in the body

**If you consider caffeine withdrawal as a way to soothe your fussy baby, make it happen gradually. Abrupt withdrawal may give you a headache, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Does Caffeine Decrease Breast Milk Supply?

No research or evidence supports the myth that caffeine decreases milk supply in nursing mothers. In fact, a study indicated that caffeine does not change breast milk composition, and rather, stimulates milk production (5). Even if the decreased milk supply is observed in few cases, it could be due to the decreased nursing of fussy babies, rather than the caffeine intake.

However, few studies suggests that the chronic caffeine ingestion could lessen the iron content in milk, which may lead to mild iron deficiency or anemia in some breastfed infants.

When Should Nursing Mothers Completely Avoid Caffeine?

If you are a nursing mother having a Raynaud’s phenomenon, a circulatory disorder, avoid caffeine. The condition is due to the constriction of blood vessels, which leads to lesser blood flow. It even affects your nipples and the constriction worsens with caffeine, ending up in painful breastfeeding.

Caffeine consumption may affect a nursing mother’s let-down reflex (the milk ejection reflex from the breasts), in case of nipple vasospasm.

What Are Different Caffeine Sources?

Caffeine can be found in:

  • coffee
  • soft drinks
  • tea
  • sports, energy drinks
  • chocolate
  • few prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medications for cold, headache, and allergy remedies
  • coffee ice cream
  • herbal products containing kola nut/cola nitida, guarana/paullinea cupana, yerba mate, or green tea

Caffeine Content In Common Drinks

Drinks Caffeine Level (mg)
Coffee, Brewed(8 oz) >80-135
Coffee, Instant(8 oz) >65-100
Tea, iced(8 oz) 47
Tea, brewed, imported brands (avg.)(8 oz) 60
Tea, green(8 oz) 15
Hot cocoa(8 oz) >14
Dark chocolate (1 oz) >20 mg
Diet Coke(12 oz) 45.6
Red Bull (8.2 oz) >80.0

Source:

A nursing mother can enjoy caffeinated drinks and foods without any concern, as long as it is within a limit. In case the baby shows discomfort, it is better to seek a doctor’s advice and chalk out the caffeine consumption plans.

FAQs

Q. What Can I Have Instead Of Caffeine Drinks?

A. A great option would be to have decaffeinated products like coffee free from caffeine, decaffeinated green tea, or herbal tea. You could also have flavored water with a slice of lime or lemon, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, no-added-sugar squashes. Instead of cocoa or hot chocolate rich in caffeine, go for a hot malt drink.

Q. How Many Cups Of Coffee Are Okay Each Day?

A. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not more than three cups daily, while La Leche League considers five cups of coffee while breastfeeding each day to be safe.

Q. How To Limit Caffeine Intake Through Coffee Or Tea?

A. Opting for espresso drinks like lattes or instant coffee, which have less caffeine than the regular brewed coffee would be better. Take a tea that is brewed for less time or tea bag steeped in water for a lesser time.

Q. Are Energy Drinks Containing Caffeine, Safer During Breastfeeding?

A. It is advisable to cut down on energy drinks altogether as they are loaded with caffeine.

Q. Is Coffee Bean Extract Safe For Nursing Mothers?

A. Green coffee bean extract is a herbal, homeopathic product helpful in lowering the blood pressure and body weight. Even though no study talks about the safety of the product for a breastfeeding mother, it is important to note few points before going ahead.

Green coffee bean extract contains caffeine if it comes in dosages of 43 mg, 93 mg, or 185 mg.  The higher the dosage, the more the caffeine. Opt for low dosage product or avoid caffeine if your baby shows reactions against it.

Moms share your experiences about consuming caffeine during breastfeeding here. How addicted or not were you?

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Baby Breastfeeding

4 Amazingly Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek During Your Lactation Period

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Mommies, who are concerned about how to increase breast milk, need not worry, as Fenugreek can rescue you. Fenugreek has been used popularly as a spice of an herb for ages. It is known to induce labor and also assist in childbirth.

Fenugreek seeds can be a safe answer for you as well as your baby for increasing breast milk. How?

Fenugreek For Breast Milk Production:

When it comes to increasing your milk supply, it is always better to try the non-pharmaceutical measures first. The herbal medicines will have lesser side effects compared to the prescribed medicines to increase breast milk supply. Here we shall explore the link between fenugreek and breast milk production:

  • Mothers should have noted that they find increase in milk production after 24-72 hours of taking fenugreek.
    • You need to take around 3,500 mg of fenugreek in the form of pills, seeds or herb to see the effect. With regular intake, you can slowly find increase in your milk production. After some time, you can see your urine and sweat beginning to smell like maple syrup. You must try alternative methods, if in case you face any discomforts.
  • Per Kathleen Huggins says, “Most mothers have found that the herb can be discontinued once milk production is stimulated to an appropriate level. Adequate production is usually maintained as long as sufficient breast stimulation and emptying continues.”

Different Ways You Can Use Fenugreek For Increasing Breast Milk:

Fenugreek can be taken in different ways during your lactation period. Here are some possibilities:

1. Tea: You can add around 3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water and bring it to boil to make the tea. You can have this around three times a day.

2. Capsules: The seeds are available in the form of capsules as well. You need to consult your lactating doctor about the doses. You can begin with three capsules a day, and then increase it slowly till your urine smells like maple syrup.

3. Sprout The Seeds: This is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to take fenugreeks. Soak the seeds in a clean glass of water and do not disturb them for around 5 days. You can see the sprouts after few days. You can add them to your salad.

4. Fenugreek Powder: Fenugreek can be taken in the form of powder. You can mix a teaspoon of it with fruit juice and take them daily. Discontinue its use if you experience muscle cramps.

Be Careful Of The Side Effects:

You must consult with your herbal specialist or lactation doctor to know if your baby is exposed to any sorts of dangers when you take fenugreek daily. Here is a list of side effects that you should be careful while taking fenugreek for breast milk supply:

  • Fenugreek seeds induce labor, and thus it is suggested that you avoid them in pregnancy.
  • If you notice any allergic reactions, inform it to the doctor. You may be allergic to fenugreek if you have allergies from peanuts or soy.
  • If you begin with heavy doses of fenugreek, it might lead to diarrhea. The herb also passes through your breast milk and your baby might develop diarrhea as well. Thus, it is important that you start with the small dose and then increase the intake slowly.
  • See if your urine, sweat and breast milk smells like maple syrup. You must inform your baby’s doctor about your fenugreek intake.

Remember:

  • You must consult your doctor in case you feel you are not producing enough milk, despite trying different measures.
  • Your lactating consultant may suggest you to take fenugreek to augment your milk supply.
  • Make sure you are starting with a small dose to keep away the side effects.
  • You must follow the advice of your doctor at every step. This will free your mind from all concerns like if you are harming your baby in any way.

Let us know if fenugreek helped you to augment your breast milk production in the comment section below.

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