I got pregnant in late December 2015. My husband and I had been talking about having a baby for a few months, but only got real about it the night our daughter was conceived – yes, it only took one time. Naturally, I had many worries and fears about getting pregnant and becoming a parent, but back then one of the most pressing ones was, “how am I going to give up caffeine and alcohol for nine months?”
I enjoy the simple pleasures in life. The smell of rain, a good piece (any piece) of dark chocolate, a new toothbrush, freshly washed sheets and, up until I got pregnant, a nice shot of espresso and a full-bodied glass of red wine.
I was never a major drinker and although our social life was pretty tame and quiet, our nights out always included cocktails, wine, or beer. The next morning, like every other morning, I started the day with at least three shots of espresso. I didn’t need it to stay awake, I’ve always had plenty of energy; it was the ritual that I loved. The act of measuring, pouring, smelling, sipping was divine to me.
I had read in my pregnancy book that it was completely safe for my baby to consume a small amount of caffeine and (after my first trimester) a sip of wine or beer here and there. But I’m an all or nothing kind of person. If I was going to get pregnant, I was going to do it right, however that looked to me.
The moment I saw the + sign on the stick, I gave up alcohol and caffeine on the spot. And not just for nine months, but indefinitely.
Since then, I’ve had two very small glasses of wine, once when my daughter was three weeks old and again when she was two months old. She’s now nine months old and I’ve been booze-free ever since.
Here’s why –
So, alcohol and caffeine – totally safe in moderation. But healthy? For me, I wasn’t so sure.
A bit of background-
Regarding alcohol consumption, the La Leche League’s The Breastfeeding Answer Book (pp. 597-598) states:
“Alcohol passes freely into mother’s milk and has been found to peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. Alcohol also freely passes out of a mother’s milk and her system. It takes a 120 pound woman about two to three hours to eliminate from her body the alcohol in one serving of beer or wine…the more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it takes for it to be eliminated. It takes up to 13 hours for a 120-pound woman to eliminate the alcohol from one high-alcohol drink. The effects of alcohol on the breastfeeding baby are directly related to the amount the mother consumes.”
On caffeine intake, www.kellymom.com states:
Most breastfeeding mothers can drink caffeine in moderation. Some babies, particularly those under 6 months, may be more sensitive to mom’s caffeine intake. Babies whose mothers avoided caffeine completely during pregnancy seem to react more to caffeine in mom’s diet. Even if baby is sensitive to the caffeine now, he may not be when he’s a little older — so if you do have to stop or limit your caffeine intake, you can try again when baby is older.
I have chosen to exclusively breastfeed my daughter and although this has taken a lot of work and resulted in multiple sacrifices, I feel so fortunate to be able to nourish her with my breast milk. As soon as I held her, I made the conscious choice to produce the cleanest milk as I possibly could for her though my diet and lifestyle.
Each mother needs to make the right decision for her baby and I didn’t (and still don’t) feel right consuming alcohol or caffeine while breastfeeding.
After going nine months without alcohol during my pregnancy, I noticed how much I enjoyed waking up in the morning with a clear and focused mind. Sure, my pregnancy hormones and now my postpartum hormones sometimes cause me to feel like I’m losing it, but this is a much different feeling than that post-too-many-glasses-of-wine brain fog. I also don’t reach for a shot of espresso first thing in the morning anymore but rather enjoy a litre of water and a green smoothie. These habits are a lot healthier for my mind and also my digestive tract.
I Love My Liver
Speaking of organs, I love my liver! Perhaps all parents can understand this, but becoming a mother has made me aware of my mortality more than ever before. It takes an extreme amount of work for the liver to break down alcohol, even just one glass. It’s my job and mission to keep my body in the healthiest shape that I can for my family and myself. Conveniently, this mindset has also resulted in my body being in the best physical shape of my entire life.
Before I got pregnant, my husband and I didn’t really pay attention to how much money we spent on alcohol and coffee beans. During those nine months, he also significantly reduced his alcohol consumption in solidarity with me and (not so) magically, we noticed a change in our bank account. Since becoming parents, he rarely drinks, I never drink and the high-quality espresso beans that we buy (for him) last a lot longer. I put the money saved towards organic produce to nourish us instead.
I don’t know if I’ll go back to drinking either substance after Ivy has weaned from breastfeeding, but for the meantime, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine is really working for me.
ASHLEY WOOD is a recipe developer and writer from Winnipeg, Canada. With a passion for health, wellness and vegetables, Ashley creates simple and inexpensive vegan recipes made from whole ingredients that are often seasonal, sometimes gluten-free and occasionally raw. Ashley believe in celebrating the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle and at the very least, hopes to inspire others to eat more plants, smile and live with some Sunshine.