This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. And no, I'm not being dramatic. Today we are talking about something I cannot (and don't plan on) living without. My best friend, caffeine.
Caffeine and I have a very long, and generally loving, relationship--one that I don't care to end anytime soon, to be perfectly honest with you. However there are reasons why you would want to limit your intake or cut it out all together... which makes this a little bit of an awkward post to write, if you're an addict like me. Caffeine during pregnancy is a deeply personal decision that we should all consider top priority and give it the weight it deserves, and not just cast it off because our friend's friend heard of a woman who knows everything and said you should never EVER drink caffeine while you're pregnant or else your baby will (insert crazy scary possible scenario here).
So for those mamas like me who are looking for another alternative to the cold turkey, loveless life that is a caffeine-free pregnancy, here are a couple of things to remember about the do's and don'ts of caffeine when you're pregnant.
Is Caffeine Safe When I'm Pregnant?Short answer: Yes. Longer short answer: Yes, but in moderation. The recommended daily intake for expecting mamas is 200 milligrams or less. For those Starbucks lovers out there, that's about the equivalent of a 10-12 oz cup of coffee (or for my fellow Coke drinkers out there, you're looking at about 35 mg/12oz).
Why do I Need to Limit Caffeine While Pregnant?
Your body is going through some changes, mama. Like you haven't noticed, right? Well caffeine is one of those things that your body will react differently to now that you're pregnant. The same way that your babe doesn't react so well to that burrito you had to have a couple of days ago (yeesh), she will also react to any caffeine that you drink, and they will be exposed to the effects much longer than you will. The caffeine will be absorbed into the placenta, into the amniotic fluid, and then into your baby's bloodstream. So after your buzz has already worn off, your little babe is still working on processing that through their little body.
There are some studies that have linked caffeine intake during pregnancy (over 300mg/day) to smaller-than-average babes at birth, but keeping your intake under 200mg has not been linked to higher chance of miscarriage or premature birth, or any noticeable differences in child's weight/height/overall size at birth.
Caffeine also has that nasty little effect of making it hard for your body to absorb iron, something pregnant mamas are already running low on. To make sure that you're not keeping your bod from getting all the nutrients it needs, do your best not to drink your coffee, tea, soda, or energy drink during your meals, but in between for a pick me up if (okay, WHEN) you need it.
The hard truth of caffeine, though, is that too much of it can sometimes make you feel worse. I know better than anyone that if you skip a day without your Sonic run, your body and mind will absolutely rebel, making you will feel like you're dying. But that's kind of the point, isn't it? The same way it gives you a pick-me-up during the day, it can actually keep you up at night and can be a cause for insomnia (which, let's be real, is already the freaking worst when you're pregnant), can raise your blood pressure, and can sometimes lead to heartburn (which, let's be real, is already the freaking worst when you're pregnant). Something else to keep in mind is if you're drinking soda or energy drinks, you are taking in a bunch of sugar along with that caffeine which can lead to excessive weight gain (which, let's be real, is already the freaking worst when you're pregnant).
Interested in a list of the caffeine that you're looking at with drinks or foods? Here's a handy list that can help!
Are There Any Healthy Alternatives to Caffeine?
If you're looking for something that might give you the jolt you need without all the caffeine and sugar, you can try to sub in foods or supplements. There are a few things that will give you the energy you are in desperate need of that you can easily fit in to your diet, but are looking to kick the caffeine habit!
Apples can actually give you great energy at any time of day! They're filled with good sugar and carbs that will give you a longer, slower energy than your soda or coffee. You can add a couple to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, pack some slices in your lunch with some peanut butter for dipping, or bake some in the oven and eat them with ice cream for a nice treat. Or try them all! I mean, a mama's gotta eat!
B12 and a big glass of water will be the game changer for your energy crisis. Taking one of these tiny little helpers in the morning will take the edge off your slump for the whole day, and you'll have the pep in your step without even noticing it. As an added bonus, this can also help with morning sickness if you take it once you wake up. Make sure and eat a little something with it for max absorption. Hey, eat it with your apple! Zing!
Almonds, greek yogurt, and beans are other great, high protein food choices that will help give you some energy when you need it, and keep your body strong and sturdy while you're working on growing that little hunny in your tummy. Plus they are great at keeping you full, and will add in extra calcium, iron, and folic acid to your diet-- all super important for you and your growing babe!