By Megan Powell
A cup of chai and some dark chocolate. My two “me” time indulgences.
With my first pregnancy, I played it overly safe when it came to caffeine. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do enjoy my daily cup (or two) of caffeinated tea. But the second I found out I was pregnant, I cut it all out. No more tea, no more matcha lattes, and especially no seasonal caffeinated drinks from my favourite cafés. I stuck to herbal teas and avoided caffeine, even being strict with how much chocolate I consumed.
But with this second baby, I’m not as hard on myself. For one, I’m a lot more exhausted than last time. Having a very active 3-year-old running around while also dealing with pregnancy fatigue is wearing me out quickly.
I cut out caffeine almost completely in my first trimester—easy enough with feelings of constant nausea—then relaxed a lot once I entered my second trimester. I find myself craving that cup of chai or matcha smoothie in the morning, and while I’ve pretty much limited it to one cup of tea a day at the most, it still feels like a treat for me. I crave that boost of caffeine to keep me from falling asleep on the computer, especially come mid-day. And I also just love the taste; yes, I know there are great herbal alternatives, but they just don’t taste the same to me!
I’ve always read that caffeine in moderation during pregnancy is totally fine, but what I actually found out recently is that when it comes to medical recommendations on caffeine, it turns out no one is really entirely sure of the effect that caffeine has on an unborn child, even though it’s believed caffeine in very moderate amounts is safe.
The American Pregnancy Association states that experts have found that limited amounts (150-300milligrams/day) of caffeine do not have a negative effect on pregnancy, and Health Canada encourages women to consume no more than 300mg of caffeine per day.
As a reference, a Starbucks Grande (that’s a medium for all you non-SB drinkers) coffee contains a huge 330 mg of caffeine! Compared to 135mg for your average cup of brewed coffee and 45 for black tea (more for stronger brews), that’s a lot of caffeine in one shot. Sorry, Starbucks fans.
Don’t forget that pop/soda also contains caffeine—40 mg in one can of Coca-Cola.
So while my cup of chai and few squares of dark chocolate should be okay, I am trying to be more vigilant. And this includes chocolate, which has been a major craving of mine with this pregnancy—does that mean I’m having a girl? (We’re waiting for the surprise.)
I was also reminded recently that caffeine is a stimulant, which means it increases blood pressure and heart rate, as well as urination, which can cause dehydration. Seeing as I’m already trekking to the bathroom an inconvenient number of times each day, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to add more pee breaks into my daily routine. Plus, everything a pregnant mom takes in also crosses to the placenta, where it’s harder for the baby to metabolize the caffeine. Because of this, Motherisk is hesitant to offer any recommendations on caffeine consumption, explaining that there is conflicting data, especially at levels of 300 mg/day or more.
I blame my hesitation to cut ties with caffeine this pregnancy on the weather too. Hot summer weather is all fine and good for refreshing jugs of iced water, but on a cold snowy day, there’s nothing like curling up in front of the fire with a warm cup of tea or cocoa . Still, after all I’ve read about caffeine consumption, I plan to cut it out completely again by the time I enter my third trimester, which is only a few short weeks away (yikes!)
While I will still likely indulge in some good, dark chocolate once in a while, I’ll be trying to get my energy boost from healthier sources and attempt to develop a liking for non-caffeinated teas, like nettle . . . I hear it’s high in iron. Wish me luck!
momstown writer Megan Powell is expecting her second baby this spring. Follow along as she blogs about balancing the wonder of pregnancy with the fatigue of parenting a very active preschooler, with periodic bathroom breaks, of course. Megan also blogs at www.henfamily.com
Cover photo: Unsplash.com