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Affects of Caffeine??

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am 12 weeks along and am well aware of the warnings against caffeine for pg women. However, could someone please tell me why it is so harmful what does it do? I had two glasses of sweet black tea yesterday and am wondering how much harm I am inflicted on my baby. I know several women whose dr.s told them it was okay to drink a coke a day. Anyone have any opinion about this? Thanks!
post #2 of 22
Caffeine has been tied to birth defects in many studies, perhaps because it overstimulates the system and causes a rapid rise in metabolism and blood sugar levels, followed by a swift decline in both. Neither of which is optimum for your own health, much less a still forming and growing baby.

A certain precentage of pregnant women have always felt free to continue smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing drugs and so on, all with little or no consideration of what the effects on their babies might be. Thus, the doctors you cited might be coming from a moderation angle, as some mammas just won't kosher to the idea of list of completly verbotten food and drink.

On a personal note, I have been a black tea fiend all of my life and was able several years ago to switch from sugar to stevia and just this month switched from black tea to Traditional Medicinals herbal teas (their red raspberry leaves tea does taste just like black tea, as they state on the box).

For me, it's not about what some doctor will wink and nod about and let me "get away with", but rather, what I think, after lots of research, will make for the utmost health of my babies, should I be fortunate enough to move from TTC to pregnant in this lifetime.

Best Wishes,
post #3 of 22
Hi there! Funny you should mention this topic. I have been thinking about it so much lately. My sister just recommended an excellent book to me, "Caffeine Blues" by Stephen Cherniske.

Here is a link to it on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...711198-6902459 . You can read an excerpt from the book on their site.

Now, I have not read this book yet, but my sister reads choice tidbits to me daily. After her first "information session" I quit caffeine cold turkey, and have had none for several weeks. At first, I got headaches and I was sooo tired. And I did not even consider myself addicted -- 2-3 coffees per day.

The main reason that I wanted to quit is that my naturopath said that caffeine significantly affects fertility. And, that caffeine consumption suppresses your own body's production of cortisol (stress hormone) that gives you natural get-up-and-go in the morning.

Now, I have no problem being alert and highly functional all day long. But, that withdrawal was really tough!

Regular use of caffeine doesn't just affect cortisol production. It changes your body's chemistry, and alters your perception of what you think your body needs to be healthy and satisfied. It is scary to think that your own body wisdom can be undermined and that something that you drink could make you less reliable in your intuition than before.

Anyhow, after I read that book, I am sure that I will have lots more to say on the subject. For now, I am staying caffeine free for life.

post #4 of 22
I've read a couple of studies about caffeine consumption during pregnancy, and the results seem inconclusive. However, intuitively it makes sense to me to avoid it. I don't think an occasional cup of tea will do any major harm, but who knows?

Besides, caffeine withdrawal is a horrible thing for your baby to be going through during the first few days of life.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks ladies for your thoughts and sharing your knowledge. I continue to be amazed at what is "okay" in the mainstream medical world. I have several friends who are prego now and all of them are going to dr.s that have told them a cup of coffee or a coke a day will do no harm. One of my friends switched to diet pop instead of regular so that it wouldn't be so sweet. I am thinking DUH is Nutrasweet not totally harmful? I seem to be surrounded by totally mainstream women who are more concerned with not having their lives disrupted then growing a new life. Sorry for the rant...:
post #6 of 22
Oh, Treemore, I am definitely with you about Nutrasweet and all of that stuff. Yuck! We don't even know the effects of artificial stuff on healthy non-pregnant peops. I wouldn't want to experiment on myself, that's for sure.

Of course, I sit here, hoping that when I go to Whole Foods today, they will have some kind of hairspray that I am comfortable with. I want to be chemical free, but I tell you what, my hair is paying the price! I don't mind. If there's nothing suitable, I will remain a ponytail princess!

post #7 of 22
I have read in some studies, it has been linked to nerve damage, etc. The babies basically get the same unadulterated effects of caffeine as we do.

I had a little experience in the beginning of my pregnancy. I was in Whole Foods and I saw these YUMMY looking Vegan brownies in the case, so I picked one up and I was craving it so bad I actually ate in while I was driving, it was really yummy. Within about 10 minutes, and before I was even home, I felt really sick and jittery. I don't personally drink caffeine anymore...I quit right before I got pregnant. This brownie had me jittery and sick all day and then I had the big crash! At that point, I was thinking about how my baby must feel in there and ever since, I have steered clear. It was the chocolate...I even avoid that as much as I can.

post #8 of 22
Odd, I was always told that artificial sweetners in sodas are worse than drinking the regular non-diet counterparts. I am not a coffee drinker, though, so I never started during pregnancy...but I have had colas and some chocolate during this pregnancy. Even had a beer or two (the entire time). Caffeine makes it harder for the nutrients to be passed onto the baby, but I still have to give into the occassional urge. Chocolate and sodas are the few things I allow myself as a treat, and I don't even allow those every week.

I've seen pregnant women scarf down 5-6 cans of cola a day and eat chocolate like it is going out of style...all the babies came out fine with no defects that I know of, doesn't mean that the next won't though. But I doubt that treating myself occassionally will do anything long term. Meanwhile I was told by a health care provider that 7-8 cans of Cola is the MAXIMUM for any pregnant person! THAT is SOOOO absurb, how can that be a healthy limit for anyone let alone a pregnant lady?????
post #9 of 22
No, I am with you, I don't think that you can never have any of these things if you really want to have them...moderation is the key to everything, I think, except some things that you should never have during pregnancy, but we all know what those are, right? Anyway, I say that if you are going to have whatever, then do it in moderation and don't worry about it. My system, for some reason, is really sensitive to everything since I have been pregnant. Normally, I don't eat refined sugars and now, even the non-refined type sugars kind of whack out my body, so I think that what is right for some is not right for others, you be the judge.

post #10 of 22
Originally posted by Due_in_August
Odd, I was always told that artificial sweetners in sodas are worse than drinking the regular non-diet counterparts.
They are, they are! Nutrasweet, generic name aspartame, is not patented or registered as a sweetner - it was developed, formulated, and first marketed as what it really is - a pesticide. Extensive studies have linked it to mock MS and Lupus symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. Imagine what it does to in utero bebes. :sinister

IMHO, Monsanto Corp & the FDA have as much to answer for as a company such as Nastle.

Sorry, Treemore, didn't mean to sideswipe your thread!

Good Topic!

Best Wishes,

*perhaps a wee bit too much Stevia consumption today*
post #11 of 22
I didn't consume ANY caffeine whatsoever with DD, but with DS, I averaged about a half cup of coffee a day.....
post #12 of 22
This topic reminds me of *another* good book that I am now reading, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal" by Eric Schlosser.

It talks about flavors and fragrances in food. Did you know that chemists can create just about any flavor in the world from grapes to grilled burgers to poop?! It amazed the journalist who wrote this book. The food and flavor industry is booming since we all eat so much food that has lost its flavor by being refined and processed! Eyugh!!!

And, here is a link to that book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...711198-6902459

I did NOT know that aspartame was a pesticide BUT it doesn't surprise me one bit! I think it tastes yucky anyway.

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Are you kidding Pupcake?? Side Swipe away, I love all the information this has generated. I want to know what other women are doing and what they have found out. Pull out your soap boxes ladies and tell away, I need all the info I can get. Plus this is my only connection with concerned, natural living people, besides my immediate family that is...
post #14 of 22
Originally posted by Pupcake
Nutrasweet, generic name aspartame, is not patented or registered as a sweetner - it was developed, formulated, and first marketed as what it really is - a pesticide.
Ugh! That's interesting! No wonder it gives me a headache.

Originally posted by Pupcake
*perhaps a wee bit too much Stevia consumption today*
Can you tell me what stevia is? I noticed that it's on the ingredient list of some of the smoothies at the smoothie shop I like. I was avoiding it because I didn't know what it was and wasn't sure how it affected pregnant ladies, or more importantly, their babies!
post #15 of 22
Hi Abigail!

Stevia is a natural extract from a leaf. It is very sweet. Far sweeter than sugar, actually, so you just use a little. It gets its sweetness from non-carbohydrate molecules (unlike sugars), so it has only 1 or a few calories.

It is all-natural, but there are still some questions about it being "safe" and at what quantities. Of course, research suggesting a "danger" may be funded by our friends (ha ha) who make Sweet N Low and NutraSweet. ;-)

Having said that, lots of people actually take it as a nutritional supplement because it does confer many health benefits. For example, the leaves help to regulate and stabilize pancreatic function, evening out the blood sugar. It reportedly helps with hypertension, digestion, and can act as an energy booster.

I also think that the foods that we find in nature that are sweet are trying to tell us that they are good for us. And I mean food in nature, like bananas, not like a Hershey bar! LOL!

I don't use it b/c I don't like the taste, but then I don't like regular processed sugar, either, so...

Anyhow, if I liked it, I would definitely use it b/c I do think that it is healthful. I hope that helps!

post #16 of 22
I get my Stevia leaves and extract from the manufacturer that supplies most of the commericial brands. The retailers generally dilute it with carbos like maltodextrin to save money, but you can get it in it's pure form from http://www.emperorsherbologist.com. They also have a lot of research facts posted there.

You should try it at the smoothy shop first though. Definitely do not look for it to taste anything like bleached sugar. It's an acquired taste, but once you like it, you love it, and everything else will taste *funny*.

I don't recall ever seeing it contraindicated anywhere re pregnant ladies and babies. If someone has, let us know!

I agree with the other posters, most things in moderation - and some not at all, and you'll be fine.

post #17 of 22

what about decaf?

I LOVE coffee. I switched to decaf before trying to get pg and have gotten used to it. DS is 11 mos now, and I still love coffee. But I wonder if there are any harmful effects of drinking too much decaf (I drink 3 cups/day.... yikes). Also concerned if it effects breastmilk. Anyone know? I'm sure there is still some caffeine in the decaf, but is it enough to cause ill effects?

About Nutrasweet.... dh *thought* he heard a news report that one of the sugar subs (maybe nutrasweet) if eaten often somehow metabolizes in the system to be just like sugar. Thus you end up eating whatever strange chemicals are in nutrasweet PLUS the calories you thought you were avoiding. Anyone else hear about this, or is dh dreaming? I'm glad I gave up drinking pop years ago!!

post #18 of 22
I was just thinking about decaf too! When I was pg last time I treated myself to a decaf coffee, thinking I could still have a little treat now and then. Now, while pg I am very very sensitive to chemicals and food toxins (I'm a major puker!) Within a half hour I felt awful!!! Then I read about the chemical process used to decaffinate coffee and teas.

Simply stated, the chemicals used are a dangerous as the caffeine in the first place. Now, I have read that water decaffinated coffee is much safer but probably won't even bother this time.

Also, rememer that most commercial coffee is a highly NON organic crop and has all kinds of bad stuff in it besides just the caffeine.
post #19 of 22
Well, after going caffeine-free(slowly weaning from it too, did not go cold-turkey) during my last pregnancy, and suffering from severe headaches and migraines all throughout pregnancy(and treating them with analgesics, and for the migraines, Tylenol w/codeine) I chose this pregnancy to cut down on my caffeine intake rather than discontinue it. I am VERY prone to headaches, have been since I was a toddler, caffeine is my natural way to relieve them. I have cut down drastically on my intake, I switched to 1/2 caffeinated coffee, and drink 3 cups of that in the morning. And that's it, but it keeps my headaches away. I am drinking lots of water, and other fluids too, but that little bit of caffeine keeps me from having to pop pills all day to relieve the pain.
post #20 of 22
Jean and Pupcake,

Thanks for the information on stevia. I think I might look for it at whole foods and try it for sweetening iced tea. Someone on here mentioned making red raspberry leaf iced tea, so I've recently been drinking that, but I like to add a bit of sugar, so maybe I'd be better off with stevia!

Back on topic... I lost my taste for caffeine early in my pregnancy, but in my second trimester I started craving it, so I would occasionally drink decaf. I know it still has caffeine in it, that's something to remember. If you drink it all day long, it's not any better than drinking one or two cups of full caffeine coffee.
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