Image credit Alper Cugun found here.
Caffeine is pretty much my favorite indulgence. And while it’s awesome for many stages of life, it is less awesome during pregnancy and breastfeeding, mainly because it is easy to overdo it and overdoing it=potential issues for baby.
There have been many times in the past that I tried to reduce my caffeine intake, but my efforts were always short lived or superficial. For example, I would cut out coffee but then end up drinking 32 ounces of iced black tea every day instead.
One time I tried to cut caffeine out cold turkey… that didn’t last long as I soon got a wicked splitting headache that pretty much rendered me no longer functional.
Before getting pregnant with Warrior Girl, I drank 20 ounces of coffee every morning and usually had black or green tea every afternoon. Sometimes I would have “second coffee” as well instead of afternoon tea. While many women do continue to drink coffee throughout pregnancy, I felt that my intake was way too much and I really wanted to cut down or quit before getting pregnant.
I was fortunate in that I had time to slowly reduce my caffeine intake before getting pregnant with Warrior Girl. And this time I successfully cut caffeine from my daily routine entirely for the first time ever!
After giving birth, I resumed drinking a low level of caffeine until getting pregnant with #2 , when I cut back yet again. What I am saying is: I have survived the caffeine reduction not just once, but twice. And I’ve done it without splitting headaches, terrible mood swings, fatigue, or difficulty waking up in the morning.
Here are my tips for cutting down on caffeine for moms and moms to be:
1.) If you normally drink caffeine every day, cut down slowly over the course of a week. Do not go cold turkey or you might be very miserable. Being pregnant is hard enough without caffeine headaches! Track your daily intake in your planner or on a calendar. This is the main key to avoiding unpleasant side effects from this lifestyle change.
2.) Find tasty alternatives to drink and incorporate into your routine in place of coffee, tea, or soda. This is essential as for many of us, our caffeinated beverage of choice is essentially a cozy cup of comfort, and we need to find ways to get that same feeling of treating ourselves.
Unfortunately, many tasty coffee and tea alternatives are not pregnancy safe. For example, Pero and Postum, two classic coffee alternatives, contain chicory, which some medical professionals recommend avoiding during pregnancy because it may cause uterine contractions (other doctors just say it has not been thoroughly studied and may be okay).
Many herbal teas are also not recommended, again because many herbs have not been studied for their effects on a developing fetus.
That being said, here are some of my favorite pregnancy and breastfeeding-safe coffee and tea alternatives:
Decaffeinate the tea you already have at home. All you do is steep your tea bag in hot water for around 60 seconds, then discard the water and re-steep the same tea bag. Pay attention to whether you notice the effects of caffeine when doing this with different types of tea, as certain brands may contain more caffeine and require a slightly longer or shorter initial steep. This is my go-to, as I love green tea and I love drinking hot beverages as the weather turns chilly.
Roobios tea, also known as redbush tea, is another tasty, caffeine free alternative.
You can also snag any naturally caffeine-free tea blend from the store. For teas containing herbs, you can easily look up the safety of the herbs during pregnancy using apps like Ovia Pregnancy or our good friend Google. The brand Stash makes a tasty Red Chai tea which is pregnancy safe.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is taken by many women during pregnancy as it is thought to help tone the uterus and prepare it for labor. However, there is debate as to the effects it has during pregnancy. Some doctors recommend avoiding it until the 2nd or 3rd trimester due to concern it may cause uterine contractions. Then again, many women take it throughout pregnancy, so do your own research and consult your doctor/midwife.
With Warrior Girl, I drank up to 1 cup every day or every few days starting in the 2nd trimester and then increased to around 2 cups per day once I hit 37 weeks. I did have a relatively short and “easy” labor, so that proves it, right? 😉
Red Raspberry Leaf tea is also thought to increase milk production (which it did for me) and it has laxative properties to keep you regular during late pregnancy, which is a HUGE deal postpartum. For real guys. Don’t get constipated postpartum if you can in any way avoid it. And RRL tea just might help you do that. That being said, if you get carried away and drink many cups a day of RRL tea in late pregnancy in hopes of inducing labor, you might just end up with diarrhea. Not that I would know. 😉 So watch out for that.
Spiced milk: This will make you very happy this autumn and winter. Drink this while cuddled up in a cozy sweater on your couch or pack it in a thermos to keep you going during your work day.
- 1 cup of milk or preferred milk subsitute
- 3/4 tsp of cardamom
- 3/4 tsp dried ginger
- A pinch of cinnamon
- A pinch of black pepper
- Honey to taste
- Optional: add a thread of saffron if you have it.
- Optional: 1/4 tsp of turmeric
Warm over low heat, stirring periodically, until milk reaches your desired temperature.
This is very warming and comforting. That being said, if you don’t like Indian/Middle Eastern foods or ethnic foods, you might not like this.
Pumpkin Pie Steamer: I originally found this recipe here:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp of: ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
Warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until beverage reaches desired temperature.
Lastly, try homemade Ginger Tea, which is both tasty and works wonders for morning sickness and nausea.
- 2+ tsps of fresh grated ginger root
- 1.5 cups of hot water
Simmer for 10+ minutes. The more ginger you use and the longer you simmer, the stronger the tea. In my opinion, the stronger the better!
What is your favorite caffeine-free beverage?
* Please note, I am not a medical professional and do not provide medical advice. Consult a medical professional when making decisions about what to drink while pregnant or breastfeeding.