Energy Drinks And Breastfeeding
There are days when coffee is not enough. We have those times when we just need a quick and cold energy boost; as breastfeeding can (literally) drain our energy. Some moms breezed through the day while taking a few sips of coffee here and there.
What about energy drinks? Is it safe to take a can of energy drink while breastfeeding your baby? Is it the same as the usual cup of coffee?
Energy Drinks: Health Hazard To Mom And Baby
Moderate coffee intake for breastfeeding moms is alright in most cases. But energy drinks are in an entirely different ballgame. That seemingly harmless can of energy drink sitting on the refrigerator shelf is a significant health hazard.
It can give you a heart attack by just sipping a handful of cans. That quick fix you can get with just a can of energy drink can also lead you to a quick death. What is in a can of Red Bull or Monster and how can it affect your body?
1. Caffeine overdose
Energy drinks have a higher dose of caffeine than the usual cup of coffee. It will give you more energy jolt than coffee, making you hyperactive and jittery in no time. But energy drinks make you crash and burn when the effect of excess caffeine wears out.
If you check the label of your fizzy energy drink, you might notice that its caffeine level is clearly printed somewhere. The caffeine content in energy drinks is regulated and can easily be measured because they are synthetic in origin.
This is not the case for most brewed and instant coffees which have natural plant-based caffeine. The caffeine contents of teas and coffee vary according to the source, weather, and coffee bean variety. In the case of energy drinks, the synthetic caffeine that they contain is more potent as compared to natural caffeine.
Excessive caffeine is more or less the culprit on a host of health issues such as irritability, palpitations, dizziness, migraines, dehydration and withdrawal. It can elevate your body temperature, increase your blood pressure and make your heart rate racing in no time.
Caffeine intake, especially energy drinks, has a potential to make you hooked and dependent. You’ll likely get headaches after crashing, and you’ll eventually crave for more caffeine as a quick fix.
It’s a vicious cycle; something that is not entirely different to some types of addiction. Now if you are breastfeeding, you have someone depending on you 24/7. Of course, you don’t want this to happen to you, isn’t it?
2. Sugar and artificial sweeteners
We all know that sugar can add to your calorie intake, making you fat unless you burn it through exercise. What about artificial sugar? Most energy drinks nowadays contain artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame.
This artificial sweetener is cheaper and offers a viable alternative for those on a diet. As another concerned mother, I advise you against taking any beverage or drink with Aspartame in it.
If sugar can make you fat, Aspartame is said to keep your figure, while slowly making you sick. The side effects as tallied by the FDA just by taking food or beverage sweetened with this toxic Aspartame is horrifying.
Blurred vision, headaches, confusion, drowsiness, an increase in depression episodes and exacerbation of other diseases: the list goes on and on. Taking an energy drink laced with Aspartame can make you alert but not as sharp, it also exacerbates the conditions that are lying idle at your body.
3. Excessive amounts of B Vitamins
Too much of a good thing is harmful. Energy drinks pride themselves on the ability to keep you awake while supplying you with “nutrients and vitamins.” Upon closer look, they contain synthetic types of B Vitamins such as B6 and B3 (Niacin).
Exposure to excessive doses of B Vitamins can lead to liver toxicity, gastrointestinal upset, irregular heartbeat, increased uric acid and blurred vision. One can of energy drink is enough to give you around 100%-200% of your B Vitamins RDA, take it twice, and you are overdosing yourself.
4. Ginseng, Guarana, Ginkgo Biloba
There are a lot of herbs that you must not take while breastfeeding. Ginseng, Guarana, and Ginkgo Biloba are all stimulants. We have yet to hear any scientific studies that advise against taking them. These herbs are beneficial on their own, but we have yet to see if they are safe when they are taken with caffeine and artificial sugar.
These stimulants might be natural, but they can contribute to palpitations, headaches, insomnia, dehydration and high blood pressure when added to the cocktail of chemicals in an energy drink.
You don’t want to overstimulate baby as this can lead to a lack of quality sleep, fussiness, incessant crying episodes, susceptibility to illnesses and low body weight.
Infant’s Caffeine Sensitivity
Each baby is unique. What might seem normal and acceptable to your child might be overwhelming for another. Some kids have increased susceptibility to the effects of caffeine, especially the artificial one.
Do not ever attempt to take a sip of energy drink if your child is suffering from a congenital heart disease, asthma, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), irregular heartbeat and low birth weight. It will take days to excrete caffeine in a newborn's body entirely.
If your child is a light sleeper, you will make him fussier if you drink any beverage with caffeine in it.
Alternatives To Caffeine
If you find yourself being sleepy and foggy brained at daytime, chances are you haven’t got quality sleep the night before. Your baby’s cries might have made you spend most nights awake. It’s about time for you to train your child to sleep independently.
Before drinking coffee or energy drinks, try to have some quick naps. Drink some organic green tea, chicory or loose leaf tea as another alternative to coffee.
Listen to soothing music while napping in the afternoon. During a midday slump, take a quick walk around the house or park. Exercise a bit and rest a lot. Cut yourself some slack. You are breastfeeding and caring for your baby so need all the rest that you can get.
If you are unusually sleepy most of the day, talk to your doctor. You might have a condition that makes you tired quickly. Your doctor can also give you advice on how to keep your energy and be healthy while exclusively breastfeeding your baby.
Tiredness is your own body’s way of saying that you must slow down and rest a bit. Weariness means you have not given yourself some time to recover. Sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle, you have to replenish your body, or you’ll run the risk of always running on empty.
Gulping an energy drink might seem like a quick fix, but it will make you more sleepy and tired after the crash sets in. Your child gets his nourishment from your body; hence you must keep yourself healthy. Don’t play around with some quick fixes; what you need is sustained energy for the long haul. Don’t push yourself beyond your natural capability.
Take a rest!