Caffeine and Pregnancy

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to have caffeine when you’re pregnant.  Caffeine and sushi.  Those are the two biggies, right?

Just how much caffeine is truly harmful though?  According to the March of Dimes, pregnant women should have no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day or not more than the equivalent of one 12 oz cup of coffee.  That’s a Tall for you Starbucks fans out there, although Starbucks’ coffee does seem to have a wee bit more caffeine than the competitors, which may partially explain the popularity.

At any rate, caffeine is bad you naughty pregnant ladies.  Bad.  Caffeine can raise your miscarriage risk, reduce fertility, and contribute to small-sizes in newborns.  I’m sure it will also make you bleed from your eyeballs and shoot flames from your vagina.  It’s terrible stuff.  It shall never cross my lips.


I lied.

Here’s the deal with the “bad” stuff in pregnancy.  Generally, a little won’t hurt anyone.  All things in moderation.  This even holds true for alcohol.  I recall in my last pregnancy, at the very end when I was stressed and the Grasshopper would NOT COME OUT NO MATTER WHAT I DID that my doctor actually said, “Molly.  Relax.  Go home.  Take a nice long bath.  Have a glass of wine.  Make love to your husband.  Just relax.”

For the record, I didn’t drink the wine.  I have a very strong aversion to anything with alcohol in it since my first round with hyperemesis gravidarum, so I don’t touch the stuff.  But my point with the story is this.  A little bit of the bad stuff probably isn’t that big of a deal.

Which leads me to this confession: Caffeine is getting me through this stage of my pregnancy.

I have found that if I drink one glass of restaurant-brewed iced tea around lunch time I do significantly better through the rest of the day.  Just one cup.  One 30 oz cup of iced tea, which ends up equaling about 75 mg of caffeine (scroll down to Lipton Iced Tea).

For the remainder of my fluid, I drink Lipton decaf iced tea.  And not only is it decaf, I further decaffeinate it by brewing the bags once, dumping that off, then re-brewing a second time.  For those who don’t know, tea can be brewed more than once, but the first brew will brew off the caffeine.  Any subsequent brews will be caffeine-free.  Thanks to the good folks at Teavana for letting me in on this, and extra thanks to my friend Mary for reminding me about it.

I’m not sure what it is about the caffeinated iced tea in the middle of the day that helps.  I don’t know if it’s the boost of energy or something about the caffeine itself.  Whatever it is, it really seems to help.

I mentioned this to my doctor today, and she was also stumped.  To her knowledge, caffeine is never really used to help with nausea.  To further that, a quick google search (and I mean really quick) showed lots of links to dealing with nausea caused by caffeine, but no links talking about caffeine helping to eliminate nausea.

My doctor said, “It’s another one of those risk/benefits things.  Right now, it’s helping you eat and get through the day.  Let’s just go with it.”

So, yes.  I am partaking of the forbidden caffeine-fruit during this pregnancy.  It’s helping me, so I’m not going to worry too much about it.

8 thoughts on “Caffeine and Pregnancy

  1. I am at 27 weeks with my 2nd HG pregnancy. I drink up to 3 quarts of Lipton home brewed iced tea a day (and with LOTS of ice that I must chew) My midwife has no clue why it is helping, but it does so I don’t rock the boat. It means I am getting about 250mg a day. I have also been able to wean myself off my zofran with the addition of iced tea to my daily intake.


  2. You’re absolutely right! Everything in moderation, even in pregnancy! And may I say – you had one awesome doctor! Wow! That is actually the same thing that our midwives will recommend in early labor – go home, have a glass of wine, relax, etc. etc. Good post!!


  3. Good grief. I hated the “do not” list for “normal pregnancies” when I was sick. I resented the crap out of it. I drank Dr. Pepper. Non-pregnant me doesn’t really like Dr. Pepper, but often that was the only liquid I could keep down, so my doctor just laughed and said, “Doesn’t it taste so good?? I love the stuff!” I took that as a go-ahead.

    I should’ve posted this on your last blog, but this reminded me of a comment I got after I had J. A (now ex) wife of my husband’s cousin was asking me about my pregnancy, and commenting with almost bitter jealousy at how thin I was when he was only a few months old. I laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s called starvation…” Her eyes got wide, and she whispered, “You didn’t eat!?” I condensed HG in a two minute explanation and she responded with, “So you didn’t take your prenatal vitamins!?? Are you SERIOUS!?” She looked like I’d told her the baby I was carrying was from the dark side or something.

    I remember that fib, along with others (such as the “a glass of wine puts your baby at risk for mental handicaps and deformities” and the caffine stories, etc.) were put out by my wonder doc. She rolled her eyes and said, “Most prenatal vitamins are peed out. It’s just greed pharm. companies trying to take advantage of eager and worried parents. Your baby really gets what he needs from what little you eat. If it’ll make you feel better, eat a Flintstone.”

    In HG, somehow those stupid rules just don’t apply, and I hated the “horrible parent” reactions I got from healthy moms who found out I broke nearly every one of those dumb rules. (I also ate deli meats such as turkey and cold chicken…baby is fine).


  4. Didn’t you also have sushi at some point? Or was that another of my “balderdash, Do Not Consume list!” friends? Either way, I say whatever you can consume and enjoy, do so without a smidge of guilt! Your body tends not to lead you astray.


  5. I drank so much caffeinated tea during my pregnancy. I was exhausted all the time, so it was probably the only thing keeping me awake most days. The product of that pregnancy doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects. 😉


  6. I was the same, but for me it was Dr. Pepper. And you’re doing better than me. It was the only thing I could drink. My doctor wasn’t too worried about it- my kiddo was 7 lbs when he was born at 36 weeks. 🙂 He’s stayed around the 95th percentile in size ever since. He’s totally healthy and smart, and no flames shot out of my vagina. Just sayin’. 🙂 Do what you’ve got to do!


  7. I was drinking coffee, but stopped when the HG hit at 5 weeks. I couldn’t handle the smell at all. At some point in the 2T I was able to drink again (I love it) and had 1 cup every day until my baby was born…..yup, born at 9 pounds 13.2 ounces 22 inches long! Right now at 5 months old he is greater than the 97% for height and 79% for weight and wears 12 month sleepers. Don’t think the caffeine bothered him AT ALL!

    Just a side note, if your drink organic teas and coffees you will not get the yucky chemicals used to process it.


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