I am a coffee fiend. I like it hot, I like it iced, and much like Seuss I will drink it here, there, and everywhere. In college, I swam in the stuff. But becoming a mom has complicated my relationship with coffee, and with caffeine in general. There have been a few attempts to stop drinking coffee altogether. Read on to learn more about my journey quitting coffee to be a healthier mama.
Drinking Coffee as a Mom
Before getting pregnant, I was drinking up to four coffees each day. Once my husband and I started trying to get pregnant, I cut down to a strict two cups per day regimen. I’d wake up and brew a pot for us to share, and would often drink a cup in the evenings when I needed a small boost to get through homework or some writing.
When we found out we were expecting our sweet girl, I cut caffeine out immediately, as some studies link high caffeine intake to increased risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, and other gestational issues — though it’s not entirely proven.
Despite the varying opinions on caffeine consumption, (and having already experienced pregnancy loss) I didn’t dare consume a drop of caffeine in hopes of keeping my baby healthy. I would not allow myself to indulge in coffee, no matter how badly I yearned for it.
Consuming Caffeine While Breastfeeding
Fast forward nine months, my daughter was born, and my hankerings for coffee had subsided. That is, until I spoke to my doctor about what to expect as a new mom. She laughed and half-jokingly mentioned she survived on “coffee… lots and lots of coffee.” Hearing the ‘C’ word made me crave coffee instantly. I realized that now more than ever I would need coffee.
I returned to drinking my maximum amount of coffee and was encouraged by other moms who said they’d done the same with no effects on their nursing babies. But, my baby feels the caffeinated aftershock of an Affogato or Americano. And if I have one too many cups of coffee in a day, she has a really hard time going down for naps.
Enter the Catch-22 — wanting to quit coffee so my baby will sleep better, but needing coffee to get through those long nights of staying up with baby.
At that point, I would do anything to help her sleep better, so I decided to take on an experiment.
Swapping Out Coffee for a Healthier Alternative
After lots of despairing research, I learned those coffee alternatives were either sugary and too sweet, or not flavorful enough. I had heard of Hint’s flavored water and discovered they have a caffeinated, flavored water too, called Hint Energy. I took a sip and discovered that both the subtle fruity flavor and the delightful jolt of energy was enough for me to drop coffee and swap it for Hint Energy. I gave it a week-long trial. It didn’t hurt that the delicious black raspberry turned out to be my favorite flavored water yet and that it was crisp and refreshing.
I woke up the first morning and turned on the coffee pot. The smell woke me up and reminded me I was skipping my coffee today.
I set my mug aside and reached for a Hint Energy, the black raspberry flavor. To see accurate results and keep everything consistent, I only wanted to drink the replacement at times I’d usually be drinking coffee. So I had one at 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. On day one, I couldn’t tell much of a difference.
While cutting down on caffeine, it’s common to experience withdrawal symptoms. If they surface, withdrawal symptoms tend to occur 12 to 24 hours after your body last processed what you’re now “quitting” I did not have a “withdrawal” headache like the times I’ve gone cold turkey, though, so that was a good start.
I was in a pretty good rhythm by this time, and was starting to feel more energized, less sluggish, and hadn’t experienced a headache yet. As people say, if you stick to a lifestyle change for three days, it’s more likely to become a lasting habit. I crossed my fingers.
On this day, I had a tiny relapse. A coworker brought in coffees for everyone for a meeting and my Hint Energy was out of reach, so I gave into temptation.
But I also had good news to report. Day five was excellent because I saw an increase in my milk supply and pumping output — score! I had totally forgotten this experiment ultimately meant I was drinking more water. More water means more milk for baby.
This was a really challenging day full of car problems, looming deadlines, and a teething baby.
When my wallowing instincts used to tell me to nestle into a warm cup of joe, I’m now training myself to consider other ways to seek comfort and relief.
At the end of the week, I still maintain coffee is one of my favorite things. But, like all good things, moderation is key.
Will I ever drink coffee again?
With 60 milligrams of caffeine, Hint Energy provides just over half the amount a normal cup of coffee contains. Best of all? On days when I’ve had four or five bottles of Hint Energy, it doesn’t even seem to affect my daughter at all. I still get that alert, present feeling coffee delivers but without the sugar, calories, or negative factors for my daughter.
Here’s why I felt good about making the switch from coffee to Hint Energy:
- It boosted my milk supply
- I was consuming more water (always good!)
- The flavor is delicious (and there’s plenty of flavors to try!)
- I could get the burst of energy I needed without the additional sugar, calories, additives
Hint Energy will be the first thing I reach for on busy days, time spent outdoors with my family, and hot afternoons by the pool. I’ll never fully give up coffee, but I have most certainly found an answer to my daily grind.