My friends always laugh when they see me going for a cup of coffee, joking that there is more coffee in my veins than blood.
I laugh too…because they don’t even know the half of it.
Now I’m not a mommy-blogger, but being pregnant and cutting back on the brew happens to be on the forefront of my mind. See, I’ve been crazy about coffee since I was a teenager. I learned how to drink it from my French-Canadian daddy, which means it’s made strong and drank black. And I can easily go through a couple pots all by myself in a day.
What exactly does caffeine do to you and baby when pregnant, anyways? Unlike you, the little one can’t metabolize caffeine, so it sits in their system way longer than it does yours. That means disrupted sleep and energy levels for kiddo and ultimately, you (ugh, repeated kicks to the ribs). As for more severe effects…there haven’t been a whole lot of studies done, and a lot of existing studies are conflicting at best.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 200 mg of caffeine daily is considered safe. The average 8oz cup of coffee has 95mg of caffeine. But also keep in mind coffee isn’t the only thing containing caffeine. Soda, tea, chocolate and even some ice cream can contain caffeine.
Oh, and if you’re planning on breastfeeding, don’t think you can resume your addiction the day after delivery. The same guideline is going to apply as long as you’re nursing that little one (I was totally bamboozled on this one).
So, how do we be good moms and cut back without losing our sanity? Here are a few tricks I’ve used:
Switch to decaf
Yeah, I just shuddered too… I’ve never been a fan of decaf coffee. But if you’re really craving the flavor, you can drink more coffee this way. You still need to be careful, though, because decaf isn’t completely decaffeinated — there’s still 6-7mg in each 8oz cup.
Make it special
Treat yourself to something special. Pick a unique roast, drink out of a special cup, or doll it up in a way you don’t normally get to and savor away. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on added sugars, since those aren’t ideal for you or baby and can leave you with a nasty crash after.
Fall in love with tea
My husband is the tea drinker in our house, so I’m never lacking on variety. Black teas have similar notes to black coffee, and at about 47mg per 8oz cup, you can squeeze in another cup or two in a day. Also, think herbal infusions; you might even find a caffeine-free coffee alternative (my favorite that also happens to be caffine-free is Roastaroma by Celestial Seasonings).
Alternative: think detoxifying drinks
I don’t know about you, but drinking a high-antioxidant drink usually gives me a good boost of energy. These can be teas, fruit infusions, carefully crafted smoothies, even lemon water has detoxifying properties (again, just watch out for extra sugars). My favorite is Ningxia Red from Young Living Essential Oils. This wolfberry supplement drink gives me a huge boost in just a couple ounces a day.
The Power Nap
Because let’s face it, half of the reason we drink coffee is because we’re tired. As we should be — you’ve likely grown an entirely new organ (placenta) and are working on building a human in your uterus. That’s a good reason to be tired! Don’t be afraid of the power nap. 10-20 minutes of resting, even if you don’t completely fall asleep, can work wonders on your energy levels.
No joke, I’ve used this method to stave off fatigue even before I got pregnant. And while pregnant, that energy crash could actually be due to low blood sugar. Pick nutrient-rich food you can snack on lightly, stuff like yogurt, nuts, berries, mangos, whole-grains, etc. And think high-iron foods, since iron plays a big role in energy levels while pregnant.
I like to combine a quick-energy and lasting-energy food in each snack, such as a produce/carbohydrate and fat/protein: berries and cheese or yogurt, nuts and mango, even a cup of home-made chicken noodle soup.
Worse case scenario, make it a friendly competition
Know someone else who is trying to cut back on caffeine? Treat each other to some friendly competition and make it fun. Create milestones where you can share a special treat, or challenge each other to go cold-turkey. Whatever gets you motivated.
Oh yeah, and bribing yourself with a special treat other than coffee is not a sin.
See, it’s not going to be so bad. We’ll survive just fine.