I love my lattes, so before I even got pregnant, I decided to do some thorough research about what is safe, and what is old wives’ tales hogwash. I’m not a doctor, I’m sharing what I learned after having done copious amounts of research on nutrition and health, and what worked for me.
There is a lot of misinformation, fear and paranoia out there. It’s scary enough to be pregnant, and have all these changes happen in your body. Don’t stress. Worry and stress are dangerous for your baby. Having some coffee every day is not, IF you keep your caffeine content below a certain level.
As a coffee lover and long time former coffee addict, I understand why you want your coffee in the morning. And guess what, I’m not going to tell you to switch to herbal tea. Yuk. What I will tell you is you need to figure out how much caffeine you’re consuming in a day, and keep it under 200mg, and ideally under 100mg, if you’re TTC, pregnant, or nursing.
The American Pregnancy Association, and March of Dimes state that moderate caffeine consumption has no negative effect on pregnancy, but the experts’ definition of moderate varies widely (between 150mg and 300mg). My own personal recommendation is even lower than that. Why risk not conceiving, or overstimulating the baby, or keeping the baby awake when nursing. It’s hard enough to get uninterrupted sleep as it is when you’re pregnant, and you can pretty much write it off after baby arrives.
High caffeine consumption (over 300mg) can cause infertility, premature labor, birth defects, and miscarriage. So reign it in!
You don’t have to go cold turkey, and go completely decaf, just do your caffeine math. 200mg should be your TOP LIMIT. But TRY to wean down to below 100mg, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
For example, if you drink Starbucks coffee, one shot of espresso = 75mg of caffeine, so a latte with 2 shots is 150mg. My trick is if you like a stronger taste, add a shot of decaf, or two! Nespresso capsules have 55-65mg of caffeine, the Lungo capsules have 77-89 mg.
Remember to account for the fact that you might have tea or chocolate later in the day as well, and those have caffeine in them, as do some medications, and soft drinks and energy drinks (obviously).
So don’t go guzzling caffeinated sodas and gorging on dark chocolate on top of your half caf. Even a Grande Starbucks Hot Chocolate has 25mg of caffeine in it! That is why I strongly recommend you keep your COFFEE caffeine levels under 100mg, and that way you can feel relaxed that your chocolate, tea or soda consumption caffeine levels fall within the 200mg limit.
You might think espresso has more caffeine than brewed coffee (Americano), but NO! Au contraire mes amis. A Starbucks Tall Brewed coffee has a whopping 260mg of caffeine, a Grande has 330mg and a venti has 410mg!
So if you prefer brewed coffee to espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, make it a half-caf, and size down! Research your brand of coffee, and their packaging or website will tell you how much caffeine one cup or shot contains.
On the positive side, or shall we say the rationalization side of coffee, it does contain antioxidants, and can help improve mental and physical performance.
The reason for cutting down on caffeine is to reap the positive benefits, and enjoy he taste of coffee, without the negative side effects. You will feel less anxious, sleep better, and have more natural energy, because after all caffeine is acidic and addictive, and leaches nutrients from your body.
Consuming large amounts is also linked to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, insomnia, some cancers, and anxiety. Plus coffee may actually promote weight gain and type 2 diabetes by stimulating cortisol production and insulin.
Personally I noticed a marked difference in my quality of sleep and anxiety levels once I weaned my coffee addiction down to under 200mg a day. The best way to do this is to start tapering. If you drink two cups a day, make them half cafs, and set a new goal each week until you’re down to 200mg.
Try to find organic, shade grown, or fair trade coffee. Most brands use tons of chemicals to create decaf, some of which stay in the coffee, so look for water-processed.
I was nauseous in the beginning of my pregnancy and the smell of coffee made me gag, so I couldn’t even have decaf! I was just grossed out looking at it, as much as I missed the ritual and taste. Luckily I had weaned myself down to a half caf latte for a few months prior to getting pregnant, so I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. All I wanted instead was orange juice. Believe me, I could’ve never imagined that I could get through the day without any coffee!
In my second trimester though, when the nausea went away, my desire for coffee returned, and I drank half caf lattes most days of my later pregnancy. I was careful to stay under 100mg, as I usually drank either one shot of Nespresso caf, and one decaf (total caffeine 70 mg), or I’d have a Starbucks organic soy latte with 2 shots of decaf and one shot regular (total caffeine 75mg).
So i still got a little kick of caffeine, but because my body was weaned down, I was able to enjoy my latte, and feel awake with less caffeine.
Now that I’m breastfeeding my baby, I still drink a half caf latte almost every day. I cut the caffeine out completely when my baby was waking a lot at night, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. The 100mg is so little that it doesn’t affect the baby. But any more than that might. So if your baby is having trouble sleeping, and you’re nursing, go down to 100mg of caffeine a day! Newborns are especially sensitive to caffeine, and older babies can also become fussy and overstimulated from mom’s high caffeine consumption, so don’t ramp up the caffeine when you start nursing! KellyMom is an excellent resource for nursing moms, here is their page on breastfeeding and caffeine.