This is a topic that I feel is under rated. We all know that we shouldn't drink coffee during pre-conception and pregnancy but how many of us understand why?
Let's clear up the myths.
Caffeine is a drug like any other.
Too much caffeine has been linked to lower birth rates in women who consume it during pregnancy and a lower birth rate increases the chances of your baby having health issues in the future as
well as at birth. There have also been studies that have linked excessive caffeine consumption to miscarriage though there is still some debate over just how much "excessive" is.
Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore increases your (and your babies) heart rate and metabolism. It is also a diuretic - it cause your body to lose the water and fluids that are vital to a healthy
pregnancy. Caffeine is also responsible for insomnia, head aches and leaves you feeling anxious.
Tea and coffee also interfere with the way our bodies absorb iron (so if you are taking iron supplements be sure not to use your cuppa to wash them down - you should wait at least an hour between taking your iron pill and consuming caffeine). Iron is essential to carry oxygen around the body and we really don't want anything to compromise this.
Most of us would agree that we want to minimize these problems for our babies and I bet by now you're wondering...
What's The Recommended Caffeine Limit?
The going rate these days is 200mg of caffeine per day. Need some help converting that?
200mg is the equivalent of:
Two mugs of instant coffee
Four cups of medium strength tea
Four cups of hot chocolate
Six cups of cola
Cafe's often use high quality coffee beans and you may indeed being getting more than 200mg per cup!
Caffeine can be found in chocolate and some over the counter medications (cold & flu relief, allergy medications etc) so you should always ask your pharmacists if your medications may have a
negative influence on not only your pregnancy but conception too.
What's also surprising is just how much caffeine can be found in these drinks.
• 1 mug of instant coffee = 100mg
• 1 cup of instant coffee = 75mg
• 1 cup of brewed coffee = 100mg to 350mg, depending on beans
• 1 cup of tea = 50mg
• 1 can of cola = 40mg
• 1 can of "energy" drink = 80mg
• 1 x 50g bar of plain chocolate = up to 50mg
• 1 x 50g bar of milk chocolate = up to 25mg
If you're anything like me, then sacrifices the morning coffee isn't as black and white as it seems on paper. Try to reduce your intake gradually by halving the amount in your cuppa before reducing the frequency.
You can also reach for the decaf version of your favourite drinks. Be wary of herbal tea's - many of these also contain caffeine or other ingredients that are damage the odds of your successful pregnancy.
The bottom line?
If caffeine is going to be difficult to let go of then make a plan - a realistic one - and stick to it.