spill the beans

image courtesy of Time Out - Sydney's best coffee

Despite all the horror stories I’d heard about comments from well meaning (?) strangers, today I got my very first unsolicited comment about whether my actions were good for bub.

I was minding my own business, sipping on a latte, when a man in the lift with me looked pointedly at my cup and asked “do you think the baby would be happy with that?”

“Yes,” I said.  “It’s weak!” 

“I don’t think that matters.  It’s probably not a good idea.  If you need a lift you could get the same from some chocolate”.

I felt like asking him if he had really looked at me, or just the cup – I don’t look like a chocolate dodger, that’s for sure.

Instead, I smiled weakly (like my coffee) and hopped out of the lift, saved by the bell.

Even though I have done tons of research into the things I do that could be construed as harmful to the baby, and have found that the majority of research shows that up to 200mg a day of  caffeine causes no harm, he got me thinking. 

And feeling guilty.

So I hopped online to do (another) investigation into caffeine during pregnancy.

Turns out I was right.

However, the helpful gentleman in the lift may have been recalling old guidelines which did indeed dictate that no caffeine at all should be taken during pregnancy.

These days, as reported on ninemsn, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) states that “pregnant woman can drink up to three cups of instant coffee, four cups of tea or four cans of cola each day. But if your daily caffeine fix is an espresso, cappuccino or latte, one a day is the recommended limit.”

BabyCenter reports similar findings (and quotes a 200mg limit as well):

Caffeine is a stimulant; it increases your heart rate and metabolism, which in turn affects your developing baby (OTIS 2006). But while unremitting stress isn’t healthy, brief bouts of fetal stress, such as that your baby would feel after you drink a cup of coffee, shouldn’t cause him any harm. It’s akin to your dashing to the bus, another situation that briefly boosts your heart rate and metabolism.

These guidelines echo most given for pregnancy (and life, in general) – everything in moderation. 

Perhaps during pregnancy, more careful moderation is required (when not pregnant, I tend to go by ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’, but thats not good for me now!)

Like most things it comes down to a personal decision about what you think is ok, and what isn’t.

As one woman said, she weighed up the pros and cons and decided that living with the lack of alertness she gets from her caffeine fix was more dangerous than drinking a small amount of coffee or tea every day.

And while not in any way, shape or form, research based, I mused to my co-worker that half of South America and Europe can’t be wrong.  His response?  “Sure.  But they’re all psycho”.

Hmmm.

I think I’ll stick with my boss’ advice, which was not to worry about a cup a day – just avoid it during breastfeeding, for my own sanity if not for baby’s!

PS if you’re interested in the caffeine content of what you’re eating and drinking, see the list at Food Standards.

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