My husband and I knew we were going to try for a baby that August, so I had some advance notice to kick the caffeine habit. Because I had a serious caffeine habit. Back when I worked at my old office, I was the editor who was bouncing off the walls by 10:30 in the morning, thanks to a massive iced coffee and the promise of a refill later that afternoon. If I skipped my morning coffee, I would enjoy a ripper of a headache. Basically, my addiction was serious. (And kind of fun.)
But with the hopes of a baby on board, I stopped drinking caffeine and switched to decaf. (Yawn. What is the point of decaf? To help addicts like me cut back?) And when we found out I was pregnant, I went full-on decaf for the first four months, and then once I was into the second trimester, my medical team said it was okay for me to reintroduce a little caffeine. So I did 1/2 caff, 1/2 decaf. It gave me a little bit of a buzz without causing my baby to tweak out inside of me.
Now, with my little girl on the outside, it's a bit of a different juggling act.
I've decided to breast feed my daughter, especially after hearing all the benefits of breast milk in that battle against autoimmune diseases. My husband and I didn't set a timeframe for our attempts to breast feed, but instead decided to go as long as we could. No pressure.
However, since I'm breast feeding and pumping, I am renegotiating the whole caffeine thing. My schedule, if you can even call it that these days, is to wake up in the morning, breast feed my baby, use the breast pump to extract the extra milk, and then dive headfirst into a cup of coffee. That way, baby girl gets “decaf” breast milk and I'm able to stay up after feeding her and get some work done. After my beloved coffee, I make sure to drink at least three glasses of water to help dilute the buzz, ditching the first few ounces of what I pump out after the coffee intake. And a few hours later, we cycle all over again.
Some people have told me not to worry about giving my baby a little bit of caffeine. Others have told me to avoid coffee under all circumstances and to only eat yellow foods while breast feeding. (Seriously? Only yellow foods? Some people are freaking nuts.) And I've also heard just about everything in between.
For me, I believe in everything in moderation. Sure, if I start mainlining iced hazelnut, both my baby and I may never sleep again. But after a 4 am feeding and then a 6:30 am round two, sometimes that caffeine boost is what mommy needs. After eight months of strict baby-building diet and blood sugar stalking, I need to ease up a little bit for my own personal sanity. And part of what I enjoy, and has been cleared as “safe” in moderation, is a cup of coffee in the morning.
The learning curve with this little one is enormously steep, but thankfully I have the rest of my life to figure out all out.