Many women enjoy having their daily cup of coffee or tea. However, when pregnant it is important to consider just how much caffeine you intake. There are quite a few negative effects that caffeine can have on your body and your baby’s during pregnancy.
Why Is Caffeine a Concern During Pregnancy?
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It can disrupt your sleep and even your baby’s. If you have too much caffeine in your system, you will notice changes in your baby’s movements and sleep patterns. Your baby’s developing metabolism does not have the capability to metabolize caffeine.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning that you will be urinating even more frequently than you are now. This reduces your body’s fluid levels, which can potentially lead to fatigue and dehydration. It is important to be very mindful of your water intake and rehydrate if you are consuming any caffeine.
Research shows that miscarriages have been linked to a daily intake of 200 mg or more of caffeine. The average 8 oz cup of coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine. Studies on animals have also shown that caffeine can cause birth defects within the offspring. Baby’s developing bodies do not possess the chemicals necessary to break down caffeine, such as adults do. Due to this, the caffeine stays in the baby’s bloodstream longer.
How Much Caffeine is Safe?
There is a discrepancy between researches and the amount of caffeine that a pregnant woman is able to intake. The March of Dimes recommends a limit of 200 mg of caffeine or fewer a day. However, other researchers believe that 150 mg or fewer of caffeine is safe.
It is important to keep in mind that caffeine can be found in places you would not usually think of. It can be found in chocolate, black teas, green tea, energy drinks, and soda. Even some over the counter medications that treat colds, headaches, menstrual cramps, the flu, and weight loss may contain caffeine.
This does not mean that you must avoid all chocolate, coffee, or tea; you can still indulge on occasion. Yet, the best course of action for you during pregnancy is to greatly reduce or stop your caffeine intake all together.
12 Coffee Alternatives for During Pregnancy
Quitting caffeine could result in a long and painful process. You may experience fatigue, brain fog, and migraines that could last for a few days. To help ease your time without caffeine or of a decrease in it there are many different alternative beverages that you can try. Here is a list of 12 coffee alternatives for during pregnancy.
There are many different teas that contain different amounts of caffeine. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a cup of black or green tea can contain less than half of the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee. There are even flavored teas such as Peach- Tea, Sweet-Tea, and Strawberry-Tea to help ease the transition. You can use tea bag tea, or even buy loose leaf tea.
If you buy loose leaf tea, you can reduce the caffeine even more. Take the time to stir the leaves with boiled water for 30 seconds and pour off before you brew your actual tea. Much of the caffeine will be released during the initial boil and the tea will still maintain its flavor.
Sometimes you may want just a warm, comfort drink. Try boiling some water as an alternative. You can add a little flavoring to it with a lemon or a lime, or some other type of steeped fruit. You have the power to adjust the amount that you add until you find something that you enjoy.
For example try the following:
- Boil one cup of water
- Add one teaspoon of honey
- Squeeze half of a normal sized lemon
- Stir and enjoy!
This may sound like a very simple solution to coffee alternatives. However, even decaffeinated drinks still contain some caffeine. Yet, when comparing them to a regular cup of coffee the amount is minimal. You can still enjoy your daily cup of coffee or a latte, just make sure to request them decaf. You can also find many different decaffeinated varieties for tea. Some people claim that decaf coffee can taste a bit more watery than normal coffee. If this is the case for you, try adding your favorite creamer to help thicken up the drink and spice up the flavor.
Now, this isn’t your everyday sugar filled hot chocolate. Hot cocoa uses raw cacao powder that offers body and mood boosting magnesium, is packed with antioxidants, and helps to stimulate the production of feel-good chemical such as serotonin. It is important to keep in mind, that cacao is still a stimulant and does contain caffeine. But you may find it helpful with mood swings during this time.
Try the following recipe:
- Boil one cup of water or milk
- Add two tablespoons of raw cacao powder (This contains about 50 mg of caffeine)
- Stir and enjoy!
- If you would like to mix things up, you can add a tablespoon of sugar to sweeten it, or try adding a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg for flavor.
Roasted chicory root is from the dandelion family and has been known to taste kind of like coffee. The key ingredient of chicory, is a prebiotic that helps to feed good bacteria into your gut.
Try making a Chicory au lait:
- Heat 1 cup milk of choice until steaming and hot, but not boiling.
- Brew 1 tablespoon Organic Roasted Chicory Root with 2 cups water in a teapot or French Press
- Add half chicory drink, half milk to a mug and stir.
- You can sprinkle with cinnamon for sweetness or you could add honey and sugar.
Roobios is a great alternative if you liked to drink your coffee all day long and are seeking a new drink to sip throughout the day. It is a caffeine-free tea. It is filled with vitamin C and antioxidants. Unlike some other teas, it will maintain its flavor if you mix it with a little bit of milk and honey.
For a little bit of fun with your roobios try having it iced.
- Bring some water to a simmer.
- Steep two tea bags for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in a splash of vanilla extract and honey.
- Add ice, then milk
If you love a warm, spicy drink chai tea may be best for you! But make sure you are looking for one without the black tea in it so that you can go caffeine-free, but still have the flavor. Try this recipe for a healthy homemade chai latte.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 date
- 1 teaspoon cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (if you want 100% caffeine free, skip the cacao)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- If desired warm almond milk gently on stovetop.
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for 40 seconds.
Herbal teas are a great alternative to coffee as they contain no caffeine and have a lot of beneficial applications. For example, chamomile tea is great for calming, peppermint is good for digestion, and ginger helps to settle the stomach. You can even try adding fruit juice, honey, or cinnamon to help boost up the flavor.
Another fun latte alternative is the London Fog. While this latte is usually made with caffeinated Earl Grey, you can always use decaf Earl Grey instead.
Try this recipe :
- Boil 6 oz of water
- Steep tea bag in boiled water for 5 minutes
- Remove tea bag, add some Vanilla Sweetner or sweetener of choice
- Warm up 2 oz of milk with the microwave or a milk frother for a creamier option
- Combine the milk with the tea and enjoy!
Turmeric offers many anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Turmeric has been found to be safe during pregnancy, but in small amounts. So if you chose to enjoy a turmeric latte, do so in moderation.
Try this recipe for Iced Golden Milk Turmeric Latte:
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk from carton vanilla or plain is fine
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
- 3 Tbsp. maple
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- Pinch ground black pepper
- Pinch ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. If you do not have a cocktail shaker try using a blender. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Especially during the upcoming cold months, you may want a drink that will keep you warm on both the inside and out. Hot Mulled Apple Cider is both festive and delicious.
If you are looking for a recipe that will offer you at least 8 cups of goodness, give the following recipe a try:
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 dash nutmeg
- 3 cinnamon sticks (3 inch)
- 2 quarts apple cider
- orange wedge
- 1 whole cloves
- Combine brown sugar, allspice, 1 teaspoon cloves, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and apple cider in large saucepan.
- Bring to boiling.
- Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain to remove spices.
- Serve in mugs with clove-studded orange wedges.
This alternative is caffeine free. The aroma alone helps to offer energy as you drink it.
Try this recipe:
- Bring 1 ½ quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan.
- During this time, peel 1 full lemon, leaving the bitter white pith on the lemon and only removing the yellow peel.
- Add the lemon peel and 1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves to the boiling water, stir once and boil for 1 minute.
- Strain tea into tea cups, serve hot, and enjoy!