Coffee is such a crutch for many new parents who want to avoid feeling like a zombie after a restless night. As a doula, one of the main reasons I’m called in to rescue my postpartum clients is because of good old sleep deprivation. But when you don’t have a postpartum doula on speed-dial, a cup of joe is naturally the first thing you reach for in order to feel somewhat alive in the morning.
All that caffeine content might not be the best way to recover from your night feeds, and in fact, can cause even more hormonal craziness than what you’re already facing in the postpartum period.
Coffee can actually cause your adrenals to produce more stress hormones, which can make you feel anxious, and actually more groggy after all those jitters set aside. Caffeine can also infiltrate your milk supply while breastfeeding, causing the same effects in your little one if they have caffeine sensitivities.
While nursing, it's recommended to consume less than 300mg of caffeine a day, which gives you a bit of wiggle room if you find it challenging to eliminate entirely. For your reference, here’s how much caffeine is in all of your favorites:
So while guidelines suggest less than 300mg, if you can cut back to 100mg, your adrenals will thank you for it. Try to spread out that 100mg dose in meaningful ways rather than in one hit — if you like to sip something warm throughout the day, you could have 2-4 cups of black tea, 4 cups of green tea, or just ¾ of a cup of coffee. Makes more sense to drink the tea, right? Can’t quit cold turkey? It can be hard to change a habit, so I recommended a friendly wean! Currently nursing multiple cups a day? Try weaning yourself to one small cuppa joe in the morning, or substituting to black tea or dark chocolate (sign me up!).
This post isn’t to make you feel even more mom shame, because coffee is a staple for so many mommas out here. Instead, I’ve gathered this list of nutritious alternatives to get your morning energy back, because we can’t always get a full night of zzzs with a little one in the house. As you wean, try to boost your energy elsewhere with these nutritious alternatives:
While breastfeeding, try to keep your water bottle with you at all times and finish your glass during the session. I’m a huge fan of water infusions like with mint & lemon. Or, if you can’t get on the water train, getting a SodaStream might be a good investment as you transition to drinking flat water.
On that note, eat within the first 2 hours of “waking up.” While your night’s sleep will likely be interrupted, try to eat your breakfast within the first two hours of waking up and starting your day. This whole intermittent fasting trend sounds like a nice idea, but it can actually stop proper hormonal production, which is not at all what we want in a postpartum body.
A balanced meal can also help boost your energy levels by balancing your blood sugars and boosting your protein. My fave breakfasts for new mamas? An egg with turkey bacon, or a veg-friendly option: protein smoothies or overnight chia seed puddings (prepped by a partner, preferably). Get your friends and family to help you meal prep but cutting up fresh fruit so you can snack throughout the day — and trust me, it's way easier to be opening a Tupperware than it is to peel an orange one-handed while nursing a crying infant.
Rhiannon Langford is a full-spectrum doula & fertility coach based in Toronto, Canada. As the founder of Birth Boss Maternity Care, she guides families to feel empowered as they transition to parenthood. Beginning her studies in bioethics and birth justice at Columbia University, she is now a certified Maternal Support Practitioner and has trained in many complementary practices, including aromatherapy, crystal healing & nutrition. Follow her on her socials!Instagram: www.instagram.com/birthbossco