When you’re pregnant, it's easy to feel like you are surrounded by self-appointed medical experts. They’re in your workplace. They’re waiting at your local Starbucks. They might be sitting across from you at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Everyone around you suddenly has endless knowledge of pregnancy wellness and they’re eagerly waiting to give you their "professional" opinion on your life choices.
Don’t believe me? Try to get a cup of coffee or eat a cold cut sandwich in public. You’ll be surprised by how quickly self-proclaimed medical experts come crawling out of the woodwork. While pregnant, I was ambushed time and time again by complete strangers, who were more than ready to intervene on my unborn child’s behalf when they felt certain I was making a huge mistake.
One choice that received the most criticism during my pregnancies was my caffeine consumption. With the exception of a few weeks early on, when the smell of coffee made me sick, I didn’t stop drinking coffee while I was pregnant. Spoiler alert: my kids turned out totally fine.
Early in my first pregnancy, I was anxious to follow the rules. At my first appointment, I was full of questions about what I could and couldn’t eat, drink or do while I was growing a baby. I had a lot of ideas about what was off limits before I ever saw a positive pregnancy test, but it turned out I was wrong about most of it.
I was completely surprised, for instance, when my OB-GYN gave me the green light to drink one or two cups of coffee each day while I was pregnant. She basically said that while the research was inconclusive, the American Pregnancy Associations recommends expecting moms to limit their coffee intake to less than 200 mg per day, or about one 12-ounce cup of coffee a day.
I took her advice and kept drinking coffee, but I didn’t go overboard. Honestly, that little jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning or in the afternoon was exactly what I needed to survive while working full-time during a fairly difficult pregnancy. The routine of starting my morning with a warm cup of coffee was comforting to me when I felt overwhelmed or simply bogged down by the exhaustion of pregnancy. I could sit down on the couch with a book and my coffee for a few minutes, feeling energized and ready to start my day.
Even though I was totally following my doctor’s recommendations, I got a lot of criticism over my daily cup of joe. Once, I was walking into work with a coffee mug in my hand when a random customer grabbed my shoulder and said, “I can’t let you hurt your baby this way.” I was so shocked that I didn’t really know how to respond. So I babbled some nonsense about my doctor saying it was OK and hurried off.
I was walking into work with a coffee mug in my hand when a random customer grabbed my shoulder and said, “I can’t let you hurt your baby this way.”
I didn’t stop drinking coffee while I was pregnant, and I caught a lot of flack for my choice. It was the first time I received any criticism for my parenting choices, but as any mom knows, it was far from the last. In retrospect, my first pregnancy was like practice for all of the unsolicited advice and criticism I would face as a mom.
Since then, I’ve learned to do my research, make the decision I feel most comfortable with and ignore the haters, no matter how sure they are that what they read on the internet about caffeine intake, sleep training or inducing labor is true.