You love your coffee! A latte a day keeps the… Oh, who are you kidding! One?
Coffee is delicious. It’s also addictive, and we tend to have routines and rituals around coffee at work and in our personal lives. Maybe you have a coffee with your breakfast every day, enjoy a 10:30 run to the coffee shop on work days or just like to relax with your friends over a hot cup of Joe. A quick look at the trending hashtags on Instagram and you can't deny that many people are passionate about their #coffeecoffeecoffee!
As parents, we want to do the best for our children. Most parents make significant changes to their diets when planning for pregnancy or when they become pregnant. Suddenly, sashimi is out, no more rare steak, and you find yourself lying awake at night Googling whether it’s safe to each shrimp when you’re pregnant.
You've probably heard that you shouldn't drink coffee. Maybe you've had a "helpful" person or two feel the need to fill you in on the effects of coffee during pregnancy while waiting in line at Starbucks. Still, you also probably know many people who never missed an Americano and still had a healthy pregnancy.
So what’s the answer? Can pregnant people safely drink coffee?
There are many studies available on how caffeine consumption affects pregnancy. Officially, doctors recommend against excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Studies suggest there may be a higher incidence of growth issues. Increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight can result from excessive caffeine consumption (more than 3 cups of coffee per day) during pregnancy. Caffeine crosses the placental barrier and increases the baby's heart rate. It may also stay in the baby’s bloodstream longer and at higher levels.
Not only can caffeine have adverse effects on your baby's health, but it can also be harmful to you. When you're pregnant, your body breaks down caffeine at a slower rate than normal causing it to build up in your system. Further, caffeine has a diuretic effect which could make you have to pee more often (think night waking to use the bathroom and dehydration). Caffeine inhibits iron absorption, too.
It’s also important to mention that some studies have shown drinking coffee regularly to have no adverse effects during pregnancy.
Health Canada (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-gs/know-savoir/caffeine-eng.php) suggests pregnant people cap their caffeine intake at 300mg per day, about 3 cups of regular coffee. Speciality coffees can be a bit trickier. For example, your Venti Flat White has about 195 mg of caffeine in it.
What is a coffee lover to do?
First of all, if you're concerned about eliminating coffee from your life for the duration of your pregnancy, talk to your doctor or midwife. They can help you decide what's best for you.
If coffee or other caffeinated beverages were a big part of your life before pregnancy, there are a few things you can do to cut back.
1. Try having smaller cups. Instead of a Venti, order a Tall and grab a bottle of water to keep hydrated.
2. Switch to decaf. Decaffeinated coffee might do the trick for you.
3. Cut back slowly. Try cutting out one of your regular cups of coffee at a time to ease the transition.
4. Enjoy other hot beverages instead. Sip caffeine-free herbal teas or hot apple cider!
And finally, pregnancy should not be a nine-months long exercise in self-denial. You can safely enjoy a latte each day. Let that cranky lady behind you in line “Tsk! Tsk!” to their hearts content while you enjoy your morning cup. And feel free to enjoy that sugary treat, just to really get their blood boiling!