Could you go 9 months without wine AND coffee? Sometimes being pregnant can feel like deprivation central but we all just want what’s best for our babes while keeping us functional as adults!
As a Holistic Nutritionist I struggled with what to eat and drink while pregnant and nursing, however I know from my research and schooling that caffeine is actually extremely irritating to the walls of the stomach and bowels and causes the stomach to release its undigested contents into the intestines prematurely which can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Knowing this, I went cold turkey on coffee while I was trying to conceive as caffeine can have some not so fun affects on even a non-pregnant body. I had the odd decaf every now and then but I would reach to herbal teas and coffee replacers or antioxidant rich matcha tea lattes in its place. After the first few weeks of headaches and mild shaking (who says caffeine isn’t addictive?) I felt better, looked more refreshed in the mornings and had a much better quality of sleep at night!
That being said, you don’t have to go cold turkey or give up your cup of coffee in the morning. Just consider it a downsize instead of a deprivation and consider it a chance to try new drinks you wouldn’t have before! Here is some basic information on caffeine and pregnancy that most of the research tends to agree on.
Caffeine crosses the placenta. This means that your baby is also affected by the stimulatory effects of your drink and is why limits are set to between 150-200mg per day – a small Tim’s coffee has 140mg while a medium has 208mg (you can find Starbucks caffeine contents here – beware the blondes and the refreshers!).
Caffeine isn’t just in coffee. It’s in many teas in varying amounts although typically way less than coffee, chocolate, energy drinks and also some over the counter and prescription headache medications.
Caffeine is dehydrating and raises blood pressure. Caffeine is a diuretic which means that it causes the body to release water and dehydrates our cells. In doing this, as well as being a stimulant, it sets our heart racing and increases our blood pressure which we want to stay well away from during pregnancy since high blood pressure can have some serious impacts on prenatal health.
Scary caffeine related research. There has been varying research relating to caffeine being a cause of pre-term labour and miscarriages. These studies have been inconclusive with research showing both that there is a correlation and that there is none so take these with a large grain of salt.
Better Safe Than Sorry. If you are planning on becoming or are already pregnant, I definitely recommend scaling back on the caffeine intake and slowly switching to decaf where possible. Especially if you like more than one cup per day.
Increasing your water intake is a must! Try to have two cups of water for every cup of caffeinated drink to even it out and ensure that your blood pressure stays in a safe level.
Try something new. There are some excellent coffee replacers on the market too for those who like a warm cup of roasted goodness but have already had their max for caffeine. My personal favourite is Teecino, it’s a tea that includes roasted chicory, nuts and dried fruits that combine to make a pretty decent latte or cappuccino-like drink.
What are some other foods you were afraid to touch during pregnancy? Post them in the comments below!