Whether you’re a new mom or a seasoned pro, the motivation is the same … you want to do what’s best for your baby. For many expectant mothers, the question of if it’s okay to drink coffee while pregnant is at the forefront of their minds. After all, how is one to function without coffee?
Bringing a new life into the world is exciting! At the same time, it’s downright scary as you contemplate your new responsibilities, impacts on your relationships, and effects on your career. In case no one has told you, all of these questions are normal and nothing to be ashamed about.
Taking care of yourself is equally as important as taking care of your baby. As crazy as it sounds, there’s a lot of truth to what the airlines tell you about putting on your oxygen mask before putting one on an accompanying child. I like to think of coffee as a part of that self-care. Not only does it give you an added boost of energy, but also some much-deserved comfort.
Establishing A Caffeine Baseline
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established that it’s reasonable for a healthy adult to drink 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. You’ll be happy to know that the recommendation for someone who is pregnant is still 200 milligrams per day. So, it’s not necessary to completely remove caffeine from your life! Whew, what a relief, right?
Now we come to the question of how many milligrams of caffeine is in a cup of coffee. According to this caffeine study, the 8.5 ounces (250 milliliters) cup of drip coffee contains 170 milligrams of caffeine, which means you can effectively have 10 ounces of coffee a day and stay within recommended limits while pregnant.
That said, if you’re willing to grab a stovetop espresso maker (aka Moka pot), a one-ounce (30 milliliters) serving only has 49 milligrams of caffeine. You could make a single or a double espresso style concentrate with this and top it off with boiling water for a cafe americano. The advantage here is that you could increase the volume of the hot liquid to between two and four cups per day, depending on if you make a single or double shot.
It’s recommended you go with a stainless steel two-cup Moka pot if you’re only making americanos for yourself. The aluminum ones can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, but the stainless steel ones are void of this issue. The Bialetti brand of Moka pots is superb.
Alternatively, you could make espresso on an automatic espresso machine. A 25 milliliter (0.85 ounces) shot of espresso only has 68 milligrams of caffeine and can be enjoyed straight or used to make an americano as well.
The bonus of having an automatic espresso machine is the option to quickly steam and froth milk. You’ll definitely want to use a thermometer if warming milk for your baby, of course. How convenient would that be?
What About Switching to Decaf Coffee?
Decaf coffee is another alternative that’s more enjoyable than one might think. There are four primary processes for removing caffeine from coffee. Two of these are chemical processes that I don’t recommend for expectant mothers or anyone for that matter. The chemicals used are harsh and not something you want to expose yourself to.
However, there are two natural processes that are much safer and come highly recommended. One is the Swiss Water Process, which involves soaking coffee beans in hot water and filtering out the caffeine with a charcoal filter. The other is a Carbon Dioxide Process where caffeine molecules bind with liquid CO2.
The Swiss Water Process removes 99.9% of the caffeine, but unfortunately takes some of the flavors with it. The Carbon Dioxide process removes 97% of the caffeine but doesn’t affect the flavors at all. When I drink decaf made with the Swiss Water Process I just increase the number of coffee beans in the brewing process to accommodate for the slight loss in flavor.
Given the minimal amount of caffeine in either version, one might assume that it’s okay to drink coffee non-stop, which leads me to our next subject matter: acid.
Can I Drink Decaf Coffee Non-Stop?
The answer to this question is relative to how your body responds to acids. Many pregnant women experience acid reflux during pregnancy because the weight of the baby straightens out the lower part of their esophageal tube. If that’s you, then you’ll definitely want to minimize how much regular or decaffeinated coffee you consume each day.
The acid in coffee can be neutralized by adding some milk, which will aid in your body’s response to a cup of coffee. Just be sure you don’t load it up with sugar or use synthetic creamers, as these bring troubles of their own.
How Will I Know If I’m Drinking Too Much Caffeine?
It doesn’t take a massive scientific study to know that caffeine, even within recommended limits, reaches the baby that’s growing inside you. This can be detected by how active your baby becomes after you drink your coffee.
That’s not to say that you’re definitely consuming too much caffeine if your baby is performing Olympic floor routines in your womb. In fact, most people find comfort in knowing their baby is moving around.
In general though, if you’re feeling stressed, chances are your baby is too. It’s impossible to avoid stress in the world, so improving how you respond to it is all the more important. Taking time to enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee can help, not just while pregnant, but after the baby is born as well!
Caffeine After the Baby Comes
Another thing you’ll need to consider is how much coffee you’ll consume while breastfeeding. Three hundred milligrams of caffeine is generally accepted as safe in the months you are providing milk.
Still, it’s essential to monitor your baby’s response to your caffeine intake. If you’re ever in doubt, cut back to 200 milligrams a day or temporarily cut out caffeine altogether. It takes approximately 24 hours for caffeine to leave your body.
At the same time, remember to focus on self-care. You’ll have to find the balance between using caffeine to compensate for your loss of sleep and your baby’s needs. If you struggle with sleepless nights or are wrestling with postpartum depression, reach out for help.
Show yourself some grace and don’t be hard on yourself when you make mistakes. There are lots of resources available to help you succeed, as well as people who want to help. Having an active support system in place is key.
Coffee or no coffee? Straight up or decaf? What’s your take? We’d love to hear…