I worked as an Executive Assistant both before and during both of my pregnancies. Before having kids this usually meant that Monday to Friday, 6:00am to 5:00pm I was running around like a crazy person. How did I do it? Let me just say that coffee was my best friend. I drank lots and lots of delicious, beautiful coffee!
When we get pregnant we get loads of advice from people - whether we want it or not. What clothes to wear, what to eat, what to buy for this reason or that reason and to be honest it's completely exhausting. The 'what not to do' column usually includes, of course, drinking my beloved favourite (enter sobbing emoji here). Like anyone else, I took the advice as it was thrown at me, gleaned from it what I wanted and left the rest. I understood not drinking coffee... I just wasn't willing to give it up 100 percent.
When looking at the whole pregnant/coffee debate though, I have to admit that there are some good points about why to at least watch caffeine consumption per day. The medical community as a whole seems divided on the issue but they do agree that having a maximum average of 200mg of caffeine per day should be the limit. In order to save moms some research time, we've compiled a list of 10 reasons to avoid this beloved beverage and have also included a list of 5 women (myself included) who decided to still keep some coffee in their lives while waiting for their little ones. I have endeavored to remain neutral on the subject (no pots calling kettles black here), so I hope you enjoy the read!
15 Too Much Caffeine Can Increase Your Risk
I think that the 'M' word must be one of the most feared words on expectant moms' lists. We try so hard to keep our bodies and little ones safe. There has to be balance though, and coffee is one of those things that most women need to find harmony with.
When you get into looking at the statistics, most websites and medical authorities seem to say the same thing. According to whattoexpect.com, pregnant women who drank more than 2 cups (or 200mg of caffeine) per day were twice as likely to have a miscarriage when compared to those who gave it up. In addition to this, according to nbcnews.com, another study discussed in 2016 mentioned that if a woman drank 3 cups of coffee or more per day then the increase of early miscarriage increased by 74 percent. Keep in mind however that the study also said that other factors such as taking a multi-vitamin every day lower your risk, so when combined - for most people - things even themselves out and everything will be fine. Interestingly too, the amount of caffeine consumed by the father also increased the potential for miscarriage.
14 Baby's Weight Can Be Affected
One of the first things people ask when our babies are born is 'how big is he/she?' We're so excited to learn this important detail! We get lost in conversations on a daily basis about our latest night's cravings...but what we don't typically consider (or even think to discuss) are those things we're having that could make baby's weight drop. Caffeine, unfortunately, can be one of those things.
According to a study cited by mercola.com, "every 100mg of caffeine consumed by the mother per day equated to a nearly one ounce reduction in the baby's weight at birth" and also increased the odds of a longer pregnancy. Once again, we take advice like this with a grain of salt (especially for those moms who had larger babies), but according to the research done, the reasoning behind it was because "the baby is not able to metabolize it (caffeine/coffee) very well", which is one of the factors associated with reduced growth. If you take it from this perspective, it's not like baby really needs that cup of joe in the morning, right? But again, most moms are doing so many other things to help baby grow big and strong that this will be minimal issue.
13 Limit Blood Flow & Affect Baby's Heart Long-Term
Coffee (or specifically, caffeine) is one of those things, just like many other things in life, that affects people differently. When you drink coffee, caffeinated pop or consume other forms of caffeine, that does cross the placenta to the baby, but that's not all it does.
According to both mamanatural.com and sciencedirect.com, not only does the caffeine get transmitted to the baby, it can also actually limit blood flow to the placenta itself and therefore to the baby. Additionally, caffeine can also cause the heart to have "a thinner layer of tissue separating the heart's chambers than in babies not exposed to caffeine." Mercola.com goes on to say that "long term, this resulted in a 20 percent increase in body fat in males and a 35 percent decrease in cardiac function."
Most women would have to drink a lot more than 200mg of caffeine a day to have these effects. The more doctors research the effects of caffeine on pregnant mothers and babies, the more we understand just how much of a risk it poses in these instances. Even if the chances of these things happening are remote, they had to have brought these points up for a reason.
12 Jittery Before? That's Nothing For Mom (And Baby)
When you're pregnant, one of the best things you can do for yourself is listen to your body: you know it best. If coffee makes you jittery, chances are you'll feel that even more than usual during pregnancy because bodies change how they process the foods when we're pregnant. Digestion slows so that the baby is better able to absorb all the nutrients they need, which means that the caffeine stays in our bodies longer. So if you're usually one of those people who avoids caffeine because of how it makes you feel, then not having it during pregnancy should be easy for you. After all, what you take in, baby takes in and if you're jittery imagine how baby feels!
If you're lucky enough to not be negatively effected by caffeine, then it'll really be more about balance for you than anything. You may need to cut down on your intake, but if you stop cold turkey then the withdrawal could be brutal! Consider doing it over a couple of weeks though if need be. You can switch to mostly decaf, for example, and then have that stronger cup if necessary until your body gets used to it - if that's the way you want to go.
11 Drinking Coffee Before Your Glucose Screening Can Lead To A False Positive
There are so many rules that we have to follow for all the tests we undergo during pregnancy. Drinking certain amounts of water at certain times for ultrasounds, for example. There are so many things to keep track of! It should be no wonder with all these rules in place then that another thing to add to your list is to not drink coffee before your blood glucose screening because it can lead to false positive test results. Who knew, right?
For some moms, drinking caffeine while pregnant does lead them to have issues with high blood sugar, high blood pressure and even heart palpitations. The percentage of these problems occurring is small of course, but erring on the side of caution and not drinking any coffee before taking important blood tests is probably a good idea. Consider again though that the reason this is on the list is because someone at some point reacted this way. It does not mean everyone will. Just another little something to keep in mind during your pregnancy. You will know what's right for your body and your baby.
10 Coffee Health Benefits? Not Anymore
If you were to ask yourself why you like drinking coffee, what would you say? Most of us would include the fact that it gives us a much needed boost in the morning while we're trying to get our day going. Besides the boost of course, there are antioxidants in coffee and according to mercola.com it can also help lower your risk for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's from developing. The problem with the caffeine though is that although it might benefit you in some ways, it does absolutely nothing for baby while in utero.
As previously mentioned, caffeine can affect baby's weight and can actually contribute to a lower birth weight, so if you are using coffee/caffeine to help increase your energy level during the day then you may want to consider an alternative energy source. According to mercola.com, it is actually better for you to change your eating habits and make sure you are getting the optimal level of certain nutrients during your pregnancy rather than have that extra cup of coffee. The theory is, if you're getting what your body needs food-wise, you just won't need that coffee to keep you going.
9 Another Thing That Keeps Mom Up At Night
Did you know that your body changes how it metabolizes caffeine as your pregnancy progresses? According to babycenter.com, your ability to process caffeine slows proportionately to the trimester you're in, with it taking at least three times as long for your body to get rid of the caffeine you take in. That means baby (who doesn't react to caffeine very well) is being exposed to it for that much more time as well. This also means that if coffee is bothering you and giving you the jitters or giving you insomnia (which you already have because let's face it - you're PREGNANT) then it could become that much more of an issue by the time that long, drawn-out third trimester hits. All in all, you have to ask yourself if you really need another reason to lose sleep once you hit the 6-7 month mark.
8 Can't Pump (Or Absorb) Iron
One of the hardest things I found about being pregnant was just how exhausted I was. Anemia was a problem that I just couldn't avoid no matter what I did and so I found myself turning to a cup of (at the very least decaf) coffee every morning just to get going. What I didn't realize at the time though was that the caffeine was actually contributing to the problem!
According to babycenter.com, caffeine can actually make it harder for your body to absorb iron. In fact, baby is the first one to receive your iron intake, so if anyone's going to feel tired because of this, it's you! Anemia is one of those health challenges that's also troublesome for baby. It can also lead to lower birth weights, preterm birth and even fetal or newborn death. Definitely another reason to consider lowering your caffeine intake. Honestly, pregnancy is exhausting enough by itself. If you're drinking coffee for the energy boost but it actually causes you to be tired due to anemia, then it kind of defeats the purpose.
7 Whoever Heard Of Caffeine In Lotion?
Most of us are aware of the fact that there's caffeine in things other than just coffee. Chocolate for example, contains a significant amount of caffeine. So do energy drinks, different types of pop and in various types of tea. It's not just in what we eat though. According to babycenter.com, caffeine can also be found in things like the cocoa butter lotion you're using to (hopefully) reduce the chance of stretch marks! The caffeine in the lotion is absorbed through the skin, and can also cause issues for baby.
Apparently, according to babycenter.com, some cocoa butters have such a significant level of caffeine in the lotion that it's actually been linked to fetal heart arrhythmias in babies with heart conditions. When their moms stopped using the lotion, the risk of those arrhythmias went down.
The biggest thing really is to just be aware of the things you're putting into and onto your body. Making sure we read those labels will be the key here!
6 A Baby In Withdrawal Is An Unhappy Baby
It's hard enough being a new mom, let alone adding caffeine withdrawal to the list of the issues both you and baby are dealing with. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (or NCBI), if you drink significant amounts of coffee during your pregnancy (i.e. more than the 200mg per day), then there's a strong chance your little one will experience caffeine withdrawal after they're born. According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, little ones can experience irritability, jitteriness and vomiting during withdrawal. You'll be dealing with more vomit than you can possibly imagine in the coming years though, so if you can do something to avoid more puking why wouldn't you?
Caffeine exposure can also lead to dehydration as well, so when combined with the vomiting in babies experiencing withdrawal one would think that over-exposure to caffeine would actually be somewhat dangerous for a little one. Again though, the levels of caffeine you'd have to be intaking for this to happen would be significant (i.e. way more than 200mg a day), so for the majority of women this just won't be an issue.
Some moms do err on the side of caution when pregnant, and Pink is certainly no different! Here she is in the photo above, nuking her coffee (just like all of us moms do - over and over and over again each day). Her coffee is decaf though. Some moms love that the dose of caffeine in a cup of decaf coffee is far lower than what's in a regular cup, so it can be argued that it is indeed safer to drink. After all, sometimes all you need is the taste of the coffee and not that buzz that goes with it.
One of the more troubling things about Pink's experience though is how many people shamed her for doing so. After she posted her picture people started accusing her of poisoning her baby. This is one of those things where honestly, she could be doing so many more terrible things than just having a cup of decaf coffee...so people really should just leave her alone and mind their own business. That's the problem with social media though - when you post about your life in an open forum, not all the reactions will be positive.
4 Kelly Green
Kelly Green has made it clear to the world that her pregnancy will definitely include coffee every day. According to Kelly's post on romper.com, she has a deep love for all things coffee and in her pre-baby life, she 'flippantly' began every day with a large black brew. She mentions that her daily intake was around 600mg. In the article, Kelly talks about having been scared during her first pregnancy because of all the new experiences she was having. Her body was changing and growing, and there were so many things that were different. So she needed comfort.
A friend of hers mentioned that she'd had coffee every day still (up to 200mg) which definitely made Kelly feel relieved. She needed that little bit of 'sameness' and familiarity in her life - she needed to feel like herself still, and so she educated herself on what she was consuming. All she had to do was look up how many mg of caffeine were in her favorite beverages and planned a daily 200mg limit. She retained her sense of self while growing her baby. As she puts it, she felt like she'd "walked through fire, and come out on the other side."
3 Amanda Austin
According to Amanda's post on everydayfamily.com, she practically needs an IV-drip filled with coffee just to function every day, so giving up coffee just wasn't on the radar for her during her pregnancy. She, like Kelly, educated herself on what her options were because she just couldn't handle the idea of giving it up. Her solution? She made sure she got her daily dose before lunchtime. For Amanda, anything after that 12pm mark would bring on insomnia at night.
An interesting thing about Amanda's story too though is that there were times during her pregnancy where she literally couldn't stomach it. There were times where she just couldn't handle the taste of things - like in her first trimester, so during those days her body pretty much ensured she avoided it. She did mention that the issue cleared itself up though and she went back to her 200mg average a day after that.
2 Pauline Millard
Pauline Millard is a spunky lady who lives in Manhattan and according to her article on the huffingtonpost.com, she's a "give me the coffee and no one gets hurt" kinda gal. According to her, she's experienced her fair share of coffee-related discrimination during her pregnancy and she's not sure what the deal is? She mentioned that during one particular visit to her favourite coffee place, a barista immediately assumed that she wanted decaf coffee in her latte instead of regular. Her reply was that she could be actively doing smack if she so chose, so what was the big deal about her having the occasional regular strength coffee?
Pauline did consult her physician about the risks and benefits of drinking coffee during pregnancy, and in her case her doctor said that she was probably fine to continue having a cup here and there. Ultimately though, Pauline felt that it was really no one's business but hers what she ate or drank during her pregnancy.
1 Me - I Did...
I remember my second pregnancy like it was yesterday. It was winter, I was working full-time, had a 2-year-old and was taking a university class part-time. The first thing I thought of every morning when I woke up was how much I was going to enjoy that first cup of (decaf) coffee. I did cut back my caffeine consumption and had only decaf because I wanted to be careful, but man did I miss those extra milligrams of caffeine! I was so exhausted it was ridiculous.
One challenge that came up for me was with the other people in my life. My hubby is a coffee lover. I was usually up first and so made the coffee every morning. He wasn't crazy about the whole 'decaf' situation apparently - so much so that he ended up bringing home a Kurig one day just so he wouldn't have to endure drinking 'my' coffee anymore! Maybe the inventor of the Kurig had to share a coffee pot with a pregnant lady at some point... either way I was certainly thankful they thought of it. It definitely made my life, and the choices I needed to make for myself during my pregnancy, easier.
References: fitpregnancy.com, whattoexpect.com, nbcnews.com, up-lift.theepochtimes.com, articles.mercola.com, fitpregnancy.com, mamanatural.com, wikipedia.org, sciencedirect.com, livestrong.com, thebalancedbodynutrition.com, articles.mercola.com, babycenter.com, babycenter.com, parents.com, fitpregnancy.com, sprudge.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, romper.com, everydayfamily.com, huffingtonpost.com, paulinemillard.contently.com, scarymommy.com, babble.com