While waiting to catch up with a girlfriend at a café the other week I saw a very pregnant woman order a short black, and wondered whether that was such a good idea.
When I drink coffee I get heart palpitations and find it difficult to sleep, surely for a growing baby, that kind of dose of caffeine can’t be good, I thought.
But not once did I think it was at all okay, or any of my business, to tell that woman what she should or should not be putting into her body. She’s an adult, she can take care of herself. It’s no concern of mine, right?
Well, apparently once you’re pregnant, you’re treated like fair game and the judgement police come out to tell you what they think you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Everything is up for discussion, your weight gain, your diet, your exercise routine, and even whether you can enjoy the odd glass of coffee or not.
Alexandra Smith, a writer for Fairfax, recently wrote about being told by a barista at her local café that she shouldn’t order a cup of coffee because she was pregnant.
“The barista looked at my 27-week bump over his counter and shook his head,” wrote Smith, who is pregnant with her third child. The barista said a flat out, “No, no caffeine for you.”
At first Smith thought she had misheard, but when she’d realised she hadn’t, the mother’s guilt began to kick in.
“Of course, I should have protested or simply walked off but I can only assume I was wracked by mother guilt,” Smith said. “My decision to inflict caffeine on my unborn child had been criticised by a stranger,” she says.
First of all, mother’s guilt is a real thing that affects more than a third of Australian mothers and is something that a stranger, whose only job is to hand over freshly made cups of coffee, doesn’t need to be contributing to. If a pregnant woman wants to drink a cup of coffee because she’s had a long day and needs a pick-me-up, it’s nobody’s business but her own.
Secondly, according to WebMD there is no need to rule out drinking coffee while you’re pregnant altogether, you just have to be mindful of the quantity.
“Too much caffeine (also found in tea, cola and chocolate) can increase your risk of miscarriage,” the site explains, adding that 200mg a day is the recommended limit, which is around two mugs of instant coffee.
Mothers haven’t been so surprised by the story and have shared their own experiences with people judging their choices while pregnant.
“When I was very pregnant with my first baby I went to a dinner party where the other seven people at the table smoked liked chimneys without a word to me about the consequences of their actions,” says Bonnie.
“However, they all turned on me and criticised my choice to have a glass of wine with my meal. I was furious. Where do people get the notion that they can do whatever they like but have the right to rule a woman’s body once she becomes pregnant?”
Helen’s had a similar experience when a colleague approached her at work.
“While I was pregnant a colleague at work was happy to tell me how terrible I was for drinking a coke zero,” she said.
“I was quite surprised but had enough wits about me to respond ‘Well, at least I’m not mainlining heroin!'”
If you are a fan of your daily cup of brew, perhaps think about the following ways to curb your caffeine intake:
- Limit yourself to one cup of coffee during the day
- Try decaf after you’ve had your daily limit
- Instead of opting for full-strength coffees, try half- or quarter-strength so you can enjoy more cups throughout the day
- Be prepared to walk out of your favourite café if they refuse you a cup of coffee