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Caffeine and pregnancy

Did you drink coffee, tea or cola when were you pregnant? Or if you’re pregnant now, what’s your view on the buzzing beverage?
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caffeine and pregnancy
Did you drink coffee, tea or cola when were you pregnant? Or if you’re pregnant now, what’s your view on the buzzing beverage?

I asked my baby-ed up friends, and here’s what they said:

The ladies

“I had the occasional mocha, maybe one a week.”

Indira: “I was completely addicted to coffee before falling preggers and then I was so nauseous with morning sickness that the thought of coffee made me want to throw up, and now all this time later [14 months after having her daughter], I still have no interest in coffee.”

Rosalind: “Up to two barista-made normal-sized coffees a day. But not because I thought it would go through to the baby, but because I wouldn't want to miss any chance for naps due to a caffeine high!

I've never heard first hand of a baby actually being affected by a mother’s coffee intake. We're all just desperate for answers when babies don't sleep. You cut out coffee and just end up with a non-sleeping baby and no coffee to help you get through the day. Unnecessary tragedy in my book.”

Emma (she’s currently pregnant with twins): “I am not a coffee drinker but I have a very soft spot for diet cola. During both pregnancies, although I didn't feel like drinking it in the first 16-18 weeks, once my hormones settled down and things tasted good again I went back to it. In my first pregnancy, my obstetrician told me that one coffee a day is acceptable and therefore I could have a diet cola a day. I did some research and found that (from memory) diet cola has about a quarter of the amount of caffeine as a coffee so I didn't beat myself up if I occasionally had two diet colas a day.

“Also, for those chocoholics out there like me, don't forget to consider the caffeine contained in chocolate – it all adds up! In my experience, it was also important not to feel as though when the baby was born, I could go crazy on caffeine as, through my breast milk, the caffeine would impact the baby’s sleep.”

Rachel: “I would often have a mocha. I don't think there's anything wrong with drinking coffee while you're pregnant.”

Then I asked a dietitian, Philippa Golley – spokesperson for the Dietitian’s Association of Australia, and here’s what she said:

The dietitian

“It is advised that pregnant women consume 1-2 cups of caffeine containing drinks each day. During breastfeeding, caffeine consumption should be limited to 2 to 4 cups of coffee, tea or cola per day.

“Some breastfeeding mothers report that their baby is unsettled, irritable, or even constipated if they drink large volumes of coffee, strong tea, or cola. However, there appears to be individual variation in how much caffeine is found in breast milk after having a high caffeine drink.

“Poor milk supply may sometimes be related to caffeine intake. Caffeine can also affect the nutrient make up of breast milk. The iron levels in the breast milk of a woman who drinks more than three cups of coffee a day during pregnancy and the early phases of breastfeeding, are one-third less than that of a mother who does not drink coffee.”

The alternative: chai latte

Here’s a recipe (serves two) from my favourite dietitian, Sue Radd from Sydney’s Nutrition for Life clinic.

“You can consume it with the safe assurance of a good nights sleep, knowing it has no caffeine and the goodness of soy!” says Radd. “The spices are a source of antioxidants and may have some anti-microbial properties and the drink is also lactose and gluten free.”

• 1 rooibos tea bag
• 1 tsp whole clove
• 1 tsp cardamom pods
• ½ stick cassia or cinnamon
• 1 small nob of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
• 1 1/4 cups low fat soy milk
• 2 tsp honey
• Sprinkle ground cinnamon, for garnish

1. Place 1 1/4 cups of water into a small saucepan together with the tea bag and spices, cover with lid and bring to boil. Turn down heat slightly and boil for 3 minutes.
2. Mix in the soy milk and honey and bring to boil again, uncovered, being careful that it doesn't burn or boil over. Remove from heat just as it starts to foam and rise.
3. Pour into two tall mugs through a small strainer. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Enjoy immediately.


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