Thursday, July 01, 2010

My confession: I am a caffeine addict!

Owh yes, as per the title I am such a caffeine addict!  The habit of drinking excess coffee started after school, and once I finished my first degree and started my first job it became so much worse.  I'd hardly drink anything sweet other than coffee.  No juice, nothing other than plain water or coffee when I am at home.  It is my poison.  I'll have mine is with either milk or non- dairy creamer and two sugar. 

You know what I enjoyed most?  Having coffee and have long meaningless conversation with friends.  Or with a good book.  It will be my perfect day off and it takes me away from all the distraction.  I normally have between 3 to 5 cups everyday depending on where I am.

When I first learnt that I was one month pregnant, I immediately gave up all my bad habits.  One of it- coffee.  I am telling you I was over- excited with the pregnancy that I quit cold turkey, simply not wanting to harm my baby.  I won't even have decaf until my 3rd months! 

But then, when the journey gets smooth, you tend to forget yourselves.  At my 6th months of pregnancy, when I felt like everything is OK, that my pregnancy is normal, I started drinking coffee again.  No- not decaf.  The fully caffeinated excellent coffee.  Yes that's how bad mummy is.  It was when I thought everything will be OK if I drink plenty of plain water to was it off afterwards.  Then I was unable to give it up, until at this moment of writing when I just finished a cup of caffeinated coffee and googled "The effect of caffein on foetus".  You'd never know what you come across and I started reading one by one.  Let me just share two of what I have read this morning, just for our knowledge...


Caffeine, Conception and Babies
One recent report from the US revealed that women who drink in excess of one cup of coffee every day are only half as likely to conceive as those who drink less than a cup a day.

The odds are considerably worse if women drink more than two and a half cups a day. Then they are nearly 5 times less likely to conceive as women who drink no coffee at all.

Because there's not been as much research on caffeine as there has on nicotine and alcohol, this drug's effects on human development are not yet known. However a number of studies have shown that as little as 2 or 3 cups of brewed coffee every day during pregnancy can result in lowered infant birthweight.

Other studies have claimed that caffeine consumption during pregnancy is associated with prematurity, poorer reflexes and neuromuscular development.

It also appears that heavy caffeine use can affect a newborn baby.

When doctors ask mothers if they have been taking drugs they will think of drugs like heroin but they will not necessarily think of caffeine - it's a social drink, not a drug to them. Because caffeine is so widely used many people drink quite large quantities and don't realise that they have taken something potentially harmful to the baby. And this doesn't apply just to coffee and tea. Some pregnant women drink large amounts of cola beverages which also contain significant levels of caffeine.

Caffeine gets across the placenta very easily and if the mother continues to ingest her coffee or caffeine-containing beverage the foetus will end up having as much caffeine as the mother. If the mother stops drinking then within 24 hours the foetus may experience withdrawal symptoms. The same thing may happen immediately after birth when the baby is suddenly cut off from the maternal supply of caffeine, although it should be pointed out that this isn't common. The withdrawal from caffeine has been described as similar to what is seen in babies born to heroin addicts. These babies will cry, they don't sleep, they are agitated and restless, they wriggle and abrade the skin on their hands and knees, and they sweat.

There's a suggestion that such withdrawal "dysfunction" may be a contributing factor in infant disorders like neonatal apnoea (where the baby "forgets" to breathe properly) and sudden infant death syndrome. (For further information see "A Guide to Reproduction: Social Issues And Human Concerns" by Dr Irina Pollard, Cambridge University Press, 1994).

Well this one doesn't make me feel too bad: 

Effects on baby
As with the majority of substances that are consumed by mum-to-be during pregnancy, caffeine crosses the placenta and is passed to the fetus where it elicits a similar 'alertness response'. A great deal of research has been carried out on the potential influence of caffeine on fetal development and although several extreme and controversial claims have been made, current assumptions are as follows;

  • Caffeine has been found to increase fetal heartbeat and in utero movement. However, this is not thought to have any long term effect on infant development It may influence their sleep-wake cycle so that, like adults, they become more active at certain times than they would otherwise be.

  • Moderate caffeine intake is not thought to affect the gestation period or birth weight of an otherwise healthy infant. However, excessive consumption has been linked to lower birth weight and premature birth, especially when in conjunction with other risk factors such as alcohol or cigarettes.

  • Current research suggests that a moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy has little effect on the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. However, several studies have found an association between excessive consumption and an increased risk of these sad occurrences.
Current FSA (Food Standards Agency) guidelines recommend that a Mum-to-be should consume no more than 200mg of caffeine a day. Consumption below and up to this limit is classed as moderate and therefore relatively safe for mother and baby. Click here for more information on what 'moderate' caffeine consumption actually means and advice on how you can monitor your daily intake.

Generally, cutting back on your caffeine consumption during pregnancy is a good thing for your own health and the health of your child, although the odd cup of tea or coffee is unlikely to do you both any harm. If you are concerned that you are consuming too much caffeine you could try switching to decaffeinated versions of your favourite tea and coffee (check with your doctor before experimenting with herbal tea as not all are suitable for pregnancy). Additionally, flavoured water (check its sugar-free) can provide a good alternative to caffeinated fizzy drinks and help to keep you hydrated. Fortunatley, the caffeine content of chocolate is relatively low so you shouldn't need to deprive yourself!

There are many other good articles you can find online.  These will be good readings and knowledge for you if you don't already know.  After that you can decide, coffee or not! As for me, today's cup will be the last until I give birth.  InshaAllah. 

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