Thanks to its proclaimed health benefits, sales and consumption of kombucha drinks have skyrocketed in the last few years, so much so that almost all supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide stock at least one or two kombucha brands.
But if you are nursing, should you think twice before cracking opening a bottle or can?
Kombucha contains caffeine, alcohol and is typically unpasteurized, and for these reasons you may wish to consume only a limited amount while breastfeeding, or even to avoid it completely.
Let’s explore the subject in more detail, so you can make the best decision for you and your baby.
Drinking Kombucha While Breastfeeding – Safe or Not?
When it comes to what you can safely consume while breastfeeding, some food and drink categories are easier to classify and decide upon than others.
Honey for example is something that causes confusion because you shouldn’t give it to an infant under one, but it is however something nursing moms can safely consume.
Kombucha is a grey area because it contains caffeine, alcohol and live bacteria, so you may be most comfortable avoiding this tea altogether while breastfeeding, or at least speaking with your doctor before drinking any while nursing.
Kombucha Contains Caffeine
Many people ask does kombucha have caffeine, and the short answer is yes.
The exact amount of caffeine varies between brands and serving size, but typically an 8oz serving of kombucha contains around 14mg of caffeine.
To put this into perspective, a 12oz can of a caffeinated soft drink typically contains up to 40 milligrams of caffeine, an 8oz cup of green or black tea 30 to 50 milligrams, and an 8oz cup of coffee closer to 80 to 100 milligrams.
So while the 14mg of caffeine in kombucha is lower than other popular drinks, it’s still at a high enough level to warrant your attention.
Generally most women can safely continue drinking caffeine while while breastfeeding, but experts recommend limiting your intake to 300 milligrams per day while nursing.
So the typical 14 grams of caffeine found in a serving of kombucha isn’t particularly high, but it should be taken into consideration when calculating your total daily caffeine intake.
Kombucha’s caffeine content is also worth knowing about if you are someone who likes to stop taking in caffeine after a certain time of day – for example if you only drink caffeine in the morning because consumption later in the day affects your sleep.
Kombucha Contains Alcohol
A less common but equally important question is does kombucha contain alcohol, and again the short answer is yes.
Most brands that you’ll find in store or on a restaurant menu are classified as non-alcoholic, meaning they contain 0.5% alcohol or less.
Home-made, non-commercial kombucha on the other hand may contain much higher amounts – perhaps as much as 6 times more alcohol – placing them closer in ABV to a beer or hard seltzer.
If you are nursing then it’s important to remember that there is no level of alcohol in breast milk that is considered safe for a baby to drink.
If you do choose to drink alcohol while nursing, you may want to avoid breastfeeding until the alcohol is no longer in your breast milk, which for reference typically takes 2 to 3 hours for a 120z beer with a 5% ABV.
If you have to pump soon after consuming a beverage that contains alcohol, for example to keep your milk supply high, then you might want to throw the pumped milk away (pump and dump), or alternatively find another use for it, such as applying it to your sore nipples or using the pumped milk to treat stretch marks.
Related: Your Must Have Baby & Toddler Feeding Guide
Kombucha Is Often Unpasteurized
The third important thing for nursing mums to be aware of is that kombucha in its purest form is not pasteurized.
Pasteurization is simply a process in which heat is applied to food or drink to kill off harmful bacteria.
If you drink unpasteurized kombucha, you should note that your beverage may contain harmful bacteria – the risks are low if you purchase commercially-made products, but it’s still something nursing moms should be aware of.
Does Kombucha Help With Bloating?
There is mixed advice as to whether drinking kombucha will help with bloating.
Like all fizzy beverages, drinking too much of the stuff, or drinking it too quickly, can cause discomfort and bloating because of the carbon dioxide and added sugar, and it can also be a problem for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Other sources however state that Kombucha can be an effective remedy for bloating because the probiotics found in kombucha include lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, which can aid digestion and reduce inflammation.
Kombucha is a popular beverage rich in probiotics that offers some proclaimed health benefits (although few high-quality studies exist that support many of these claims).
If you are considering drinking commercially-made kombucha while breastfeeding, it’s important to note that the beverage does contain alcohol, caffeine and is typically unpasteurized, so it may be best avoided while breastfeeding, although the final decision will be down to what you are most comfortable with.