We’re all entitled to a vice, and coffee is a worldwide choice. It’s actually the number one source of antioxidants for most people. During pregnancy, however, it’s time to let it go.
What’s the evidence surrounding caffeine and pregnancy?
Caffeine is certainly not horrible, but in pregnancy its role is controversial, and there is enough evidence that points to it being unfavorable—especially in early pregnancy. When we talk about caffeine, we’re not just talking about coffee but also caffeinated teas, soda, and some over-the- counter medications and mate, which often contains as much caffeine as coffee.
Caffeine stays in a pregnant woman’s system three times longer than in a non-pregnant woman!
Western medical literature does say that drinking one to three cups of coffee per day is okay, but caffeine stays in a pregnant woman’s system for about triple the amount of time that it circulates in a non-pregnant woman, and to boot, it crosses the placental barrier, where the baby lacks the adult enzyme needed to effectively metabolize the caffeine.
Read more: Is chocolate the new pregnancy superfood?
Caffeine is linked to some pregnancy and birth complications
Since caffeine has been linked with low birth weight, preterm delivery, and even miscarriage, I say try another method of indulgence for these ten months (and a bit more, if you’re breastfeeding). After all, research indicates that adrenaline doesn’t even come from the coffee itself, but from the anticipation of the cup of coffee. So, maybe you can rewire your excitement into a cup of hot cocoa.
A note on decaffeinated coffee
Although it initially seems like a better option, if it’s not water processed, that means harsher chemicals are used to filter out the caffeine—also not good for you or baby. Even decaf has a little bit of caffeine in it, and with the extended stay of caffeine in your body during pregnancy, it’s just not the best choice.
What can you drink instead?
Chocolate, contrary to popular belief, does not contain the same stimulant as coffee. Chocolate contains an alkaloid called theobromine, which is in the same class of compounds as caffeine, but is not caffeine. However, since they’re related, chocolate should also be consumed in moderation for some of the same reasons.
If you need a little indulgence, the benefits of a cup of cocoa do outweigh the potential negative side effects of coffee. Chocolate, with a 70 percent cacao content, has been shown to contribute to reducing blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugar during pregnancy and may lower the risk of preeclampsia.
For another morning ritual that truly resembles coffee, try a chicory-based beverage (you can easily find one online) that you can doctor up just like you would your morning cup of joe. Sometimes the pick-me-up is in the pleasure of sitting and sipping!