As Dr. Callie Torres struggled to give up coffee during her pregnancy on a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy, it rang so true for me and I'm guessing for many of you.
I was scared into kicking coffee during my pregnancy. That first trimester, anything I read linking caffeine to miscarriages, preterm labor, or low birth weight had me swearing off my morning espresso. (Anything I read during the first trimester had me scared, period.) While my husband would brew his own little pot of some delicious organic dark roast he picked up from our local coffee shop, I was stuck with the no-flavor, no-aroma decaffeinated option from Lavazza. It was the weakest substitute for coffee. I couldn't stand it.
So I gave up trying to give up caffeine. Does that make me selfish?
I'm happy that Grey's did not take the usual approach and have a pregnant character whine about how they can't drink coffee. That is so ignorant, and just makes more non-pregnant people look down on us when we order a latte. I've heard of baristas actually saying to pregnant women, "You mean decaf?" What a pregnant woman drinks or eats is nobody's business!
Except maybe the medical community. But even then, experts recommend that pregnant women limit their daily caffeine intake to 300 mg, while some say keep it closer to 150 mg. Here's something a lot of people don't realize: There are 330 mg of caffeine in a Grande (16 oz.) coffee from Starbucks, but there are only 80-100 mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso. So if you want to get your buzz but err on the side of caution, just order an espresso drink, like a latte or an Americano, and ask for a single shot. Bonus: There's less chance of getting heartburn from an espresso than a cup of Joe.
I stuck to one shot of espresso a day starting in my second trimester and I never looked back. At the time, I felt like my body was going through so many changes that there should be one part of my routine I'm allowed to keep. And coffee is amazing. It makes me a happy, alert, high-functioning member of society. Me not on coffee? Not a pretty thing.
Now that I'm breastfeeding, I still have a soy latte in the morning and my baby's doing fine. Only once did I have a shot of espresso after 4 p.m. and I paid for it with a baby who was up until 3 a.m. I learned my lesson there, but other than that, I see no harm in a little caffeine for pregnant and nursing moms.
If you're not convinced, the American Pregnancy Association has done some helpful myth busting. I think the bottom line is everything in moderation.
Did you give up coffee for your baby?
Image via Jay Erickson/Flickr