Posts Tagged ‘caffeine’

Holiday foods and pregnancy don’t always mix

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Holiday mealThis time of year is often filled with family dinners, holiday parties and gatherings full of delicious food and lots of drinks. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, you may need to reconsider indulging in some of your usual favorites.

Here’s a list of “no’s” and “maybes” to help you through your holiday celebration.

The no’s – foods to definitely avoid

  • Holiday spirits & cocktails: Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. But, this doesn’t mean you need to miss the party – read our tips and substitutions to keep your holiday celebration going.
  • Soft cheeses: Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela can cause listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning caused by listeria bacteria.
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs or foods made with them, including cake batter, raw cookie dough and soft-scrambled eggs: These foods can contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause another type of food poisoning that can be dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Unpasteurized juice, milk or any foods made with unpasteurized ingredients are also a listeriosis and salmonella risk.

The maybes

  • Eggnog: Store-bought is usually ok, but you must check the label before drinking it. Read how to safely buy eggnog from a store. Homemade eggnog can contain raw or undercooked eggs. Our safe homemade recipe will help you create your own version that you can enjoy worry-free this year.
  • Coffee and hot chocolate: We don’t know a lot about the effects of caffeine during pregnancy so limit the caffeine you get each day to 200 milligrams. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. An 8 ounce cup of hot cocoa has 3-13 mg.
  • Holiday ham & meats: Be sure all meat is cooked thoroughly and never eat raw or undercooked meat, which can contain salmonella.
  • Too much sugar: During the holidays, you will find many desserts have added sugar or chocolate, which can put a dent in your healthy balanced diet. If you are eyeing that chocolate pie, try substituting another item with less sugar, to keep your overall sugar intake within reason. For example, switch out your juice for sparkling water with lemon.

With these ideas and a little extra attention to labels and how much you eat, you will be able to enjoy all your holiday festivities.

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Keeping breast milk safe

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

mom breastfeedingThere are a few things you need to take into consideration if you are breastfeeding or pumping your breast milk, in addition to
avoiding alcohol while breastfeeding.


Consuming coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas in moderation is fine if you are breastfeeding or pumping. If you find that your baby is fussy or irritable when you consume a lot of caffeine (usually more than 5 caffeinates beverages per day) you should consider decreasing your consumption. Keep in mind that caffeine can be found in:

• Coffee and coffee-flavored products, like yogurt and ice cream
• Tea
• Soft drinks
• Chocolate and chocolate products, such as syrup and hot cocoa
• Medications used for pain relief, migraines and colds

The amount of caffeine in different products varies as well, depending on how it was prepared and served (such as an espresso or latte beverage.) Make sure you check packaging for the number of milligrams of caffeine in one serving.


You probably knew during your pregnancy to avoid eating fish that contains high amounts of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. The same is true while you are breastfeeding. Including fish in your diet is a good way to get protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so eat fish that contain less mercury, like canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, Pollock and catfish.


Some prescription medicines, such as those to help you sleep, painkillers and drugs used to treat cancer or migraine headaches, aren’t safe to take while breastfeeding. Others, like certain kinds of birth control, may affect the amount of breast milk you make. Read our post on medications and breastfeeding and speak with your provider about any over-the-counter and prescriptions medications you are taking.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can make breastfeeding unsafe for your baby. These include:

• If your baby has galactosemia, a genetic condition where your baby can’t digest the sugar in breast milk.
• If you have HIV.
• If you have cancer and are getting treated with medicine or radiation.
• If you have human T-cell lymphotropic virus. This is a virus that can cause blood cancer and nerve problems.
• If you have untreated, active tuberculosis. This is an infection that mainly affects the lungs.
• If you have Ebola, a rare but very serious disease that can cause heavy bleeding, organ failure and death.

Smoking and street drugs

Don’t smoke. Nicotine, a drug found in cigarettes can pass to your baby through breast milk and make him fussy and have a hard time sleeping. It can also reduce your milk supply so your baby may not get the milk he needs.

Don’t take street drugs, like heroin and cocaine. You can pass these substances to your baby through breast milk.

Tell your provider if you need help to quit smoking or using street drugs.

Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need support, read our article on how to receive help with breastfeeding.



October is here (and so are pumpkin spiced lattes)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

pumpkins and autumnPumpkin pie and pumpkin spiced lattes are two of my favorite autumn indulgences. But if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, here’s what you need to know.

Caffeine during pregnancy

The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. This is the amount of caffeine in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee. If you are pregnant and craving a pumpkin spiced latte or beverage, you can find a variety of them. Many coffee houses display nutrition facts for their drinks. You can also request this info from their employees or visit their website (if they have one), which makes checking caffeine and sugar easier. At one coffee shop I visited, their pumpkin spiced latte had approximately 75 mg of caffeine in a 12 oz serving, which is fine for pregnant women. But it also contained 38 grams of sugar, which is a lot for one drink.

Keep in mind, during pregnancy, caffeine passes through the placenta and reaches your baby. For more information on caffeine and pregnancy, visit our website.


Pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds are safe and nutritious to eat during pregnancy, not to mention delicious. Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients such as protein, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, iron and potassium. To learn different ways to prepare pumpkin seeds visit our blog post. Pumpkin and canned pumpkin puree are low calorie, nutritious foods. Pumpkin itself is a good source of fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin A and C. So if you decide to skip the pumpkin spiced latte, you can still enjoy other pumpkin treats.

Tis the season to eat chocolate

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

hot-cocoaThe other night The Nutcracker ballet was on television. I settled down to watch it with a fluffy blanket, my tiny Chihuahua on my lap, and a cup of hot cocoa. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I hadn’t had a cup of hot cocoa in soooooo long. I savored every drop and enjoyed the peaceful, seasonal moment. Ahhhh….. bliss.

After the ballet, I went to bed….or so I thought. I was awake til about 1:30am! Could it have been the chocolate from my hot cocoa? And if it had this effect on me, is it ok for pregnant women to have chocolate?

Most people know that coffee and tea and many soft drinks contain caffeine. But, did you know that chocolate contains caffeine, too? The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women (and women who are trying to become pregnant) limit the amount of caffeine that they eat or drink to 200 mg (milligrams) per day. Some studies suggest that larger amounts of caffeine may contribute to fertility problems or miscarriage. The source of the caffeine does not matter; the risk is the same for caffeine from coffee, tea, sodas and other foods and drinks, including chocolate.

Here are some examples of foods or drinks and their caffeine values:*

8 ounce cup of coffee                                95-200 mg
8 ounce cup black tea                                    14-61 mg
8 ounce cup green tea                                  24-40 mg
Sodas                                                                 0 to 55 mg
Energy drinks                                                47-207 mg
1.55 ounce Hershey’s milk chocolate bar    12 mg
9 Hershey kisses                                                      11 mg
8 ounce cup decaffeinated tea                      0-12 mg
8 ounce cup hot cocoa                                     3-13 mg

I am surprised to see how little caffeine is in a cup of hot chocolate…aren’t you? I doubt that my cup of hot cocoa is what kept me up that night. But, then again, I am really sensitive to foods and beverages – a little bit of something can have a big effect on me. I guess that despite the number of milligrams of caffeine in a food or beverage, you have to know yourself, and your own body, and do what is best for you.

Another important factor is to read labels and be mindful of serving sizes. In this age of “super sized” cups and portions, you may be getting way more caffeine in a serving than you ever imagined.

So, when you go to the Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s or other seasonal party, and you are surrounded by a spread of desserts and loads of chocolate, you will know how to select what to eat based on what you have eaten that day. You will also know what to eat depending on the time of day.

And, when you settle down to watch It’s A Wonderful Life with your cup of java or hot cocoa, you will be able to do so and not stay up half the night like me!

(*Values courtesy of Mayo Clinic, OTIS and Hershey websites.)

Moderate caffeine OK during pregnancy

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I always loved chocolate, but now that I’m pregnant, I found a deeper passion for it! Even then, I try not to go too nuts with it because I don’t want to have too much caffeine. But now, I can rest a little easier.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that it’s OK for pregnant mommies to have moderate amounts of caffeine per day. Research has shown that a reasonable amount of caffeine (about 200mg or 12oz) per day doesn’t appear to lead to miscarriage or preterm birth.

So if you’re pregnant, you can go ahead and have your daily cup of coffee. As for me, I’ll be making brownies!

Does caffeine affect fertility?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

7236819_thbSmall amounts of caffeine probably don’t reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. Most studies have found no effect on fertility when women consume less than 300 mg of caffeine a day. A few studies have found that women who consume more than 300 mg a day may be more likely to have trouble conceiving. But, again, this has not been proven. If you’re trying to get pregnant it’s better for your body if you drink water, milk and fruit juice. But, the occasional cappuccino is probably just fine. You might want to ask your doctor during your pre-pregnancy check-up what he/she thinks.

Summer headaches

Monday, July 28th, 2008

All of us get a headache once in a while, but some of us are plagued with migraines.  There are a variety of things that can kick off a migraine.  In the summer, high heat and humidity, quick changes in barometric pressure from summer storms can be triggers for me.  As can be chocolate (that’s not fair!), caffeine (like the iced coffee I drank over the weekend), alcohol, etc. I have learned to try to stay away from these things or run the risk of a headbanger (the iced coffee was so good, though!) 

Some women often have tension headaches, which cause squeezing pain or a dull ache on both sides of the head or the back of the neck.  These can be caused by stress, fatigue, caffeine withdrawal – especially if you usually drink a lot of coffee or caffeinated drinks and suddenly stop or cut down – lack of sleep, dehydration (lack of fluids), and hunger or low blood sugar.

Here are a couple of tips for finding relief: To soothe a headache in the sinus area, apply warm compresses to the front and sides of your face and around your nose, eyes and temples. To relieve a tension headache, apply a cold compress to the back of your neck.
Relaxation exercises, which may consist of deep breathing or simply closing your eyes and imagining a peaceful scene, may also help. Resting in a dark, quiet room can soothe headaches.  If it’s a really hot day or there is a storm brewing, I try to stay indoors in an air conditioned space.  

Getting enough sleep and exercise can also be helpful. And eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar from getting too low.  Drinking lots of water will keep you well hydrated, too.

ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy, R–Z

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

This is the final post in our series, the ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy.  Please read our previous posts on guidelines A–G and H–Q to help increase your chances of having a healthy baby.

R:  Rodents, including pet hamsters, mice and guinea pigs, should be avoided during pregnancy.  These animals can spread diseases that can harm your baby.

S:  Stressing out?  Pregnancy is a stressful time for many women.  Very high levels of stress may contribute to preterm birth or low birth weight in full-term babies. Recognize that you do indeed feel stressed and, when possible, avoid situations that cause you stress.

T:  Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite and can pose serious risks to a woman’s unborn baby. Stay away from raw or undercooked meat, especially lamb or pork.  Wash hands frequently and avoid handling cat litter.

U:  The urge to urinate often increases in pregnant women.  To help deal with frequent urination, avoid caffeine beverages such as coffee or tea that can make you urinate more frequently.

V:  Vaccines can protect you and your baby against infections that can be harmful.  If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, ask your health provider if your vaccinations are up to date.  Find out which vaccines you should consider taking before or during pregnancy.

W:  How much weight a pregnant woman should gain depends on her health and body mass index (BMI).  Calculate your BMI using your height and weight before pregnancy.  Women with a normal BMI should expect to gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.   Women who are overweight and have a high BMI should gain between 15-25 pounds.

X:  X-rays should be avoided during pregnancy.  If you need to have dental work or medical tests done while pregnant, tell your provider so extra care can be taken.

Y:  Your body may experience several changes during pregnancy including your hair, gums and teeth, breasts and skin.  These changes are common and women can take steps to alleviate their symptoms to feel more comfortable.

Z:  Get your ZZZZZs. Most women are more tired than usual during pregnancy, especially during early and late pregnancy.  Get plenty of rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try taking a warm shower, napping during the day, going to bed earlier and using pillows to make you comfortable.