Coffee is the New Crack for Pregnant Women

As many of you know, we announced the pregnancy of our 6th child recently!

As a blogger, I waited as long as I felt I could before sharing. Why you ask? Because people can suck. If you’ve been on the internet at all you know I’m not being mean, just stating the truth. I really did not want to put up with judgments and opinions about my pregnancy, birth, and life.

If you had asked me a week ago what I thought I’d have to worry about, I would have said maybe having a sixth child and ‘overpopulating the earth’ or maybe people going on about what kind of birth I will have. Surprisingly that did not happen (yet). The response was wonderful, supportive, and people are excited for us.

Until I posted a picture of a latte. A Pumpkin Spice Latte. So beautiful.

January Harshe, pumpkin spice latte

The Birth Without Fear Instagram is usually laid back and judgment-free, but people started arguing if it was healthy and okay if I drank a coffee while pregnant. I was quite dumbfounded. I mean, here I am, excited about #allthepumpkin and people are freaking out. I dedicate more hours than I care to admit to serve women, empower them, inspire them to love themselves and take control of their births and lives, and people are going to give me a hard time over coffee?

Then people didn’t like that I had another coffee and I made it clear I wouldn’t accept the judgment or hate and that I am in charge of my own body. I’m on my 6th kid y’all, I think I’ve got this. I won’t post it all here as you can go look yourself.

Let me make one thing clear. Being quiet is not an option for me. It’s not who I am. Telling me to stop talking about it and be quiet fuels a fire in me. It’s why there is a Birth Without Fear! Women should not be quiet about being mistreated. Ever.

Thousands of women have come to my defense (thank you!), but others just can not let it go. Telling me I’m a bad influence, that I’m offensive (for drinking coffee), that I don’t care about my babies, and of course I’m a bitch, etc. These are women who are not perfect, who benefit from my hard work, who I’ve supported and who even have pictures of their own lattes on their Instagram accounts. It’s madness.

Let me tell you what my care providers think

My midwife asked me out to lunch and coffee.

My OB is stunned I’m getting crap over coffee. He also agreed with me that it wasn’t a crack pipe and sent me on my way stating that my baby and I are in perfect health.

I’ve had a hard pregnancy, with being very nauseas and traveling a lot, as well as working and a mom to five children. They want me to simply drink and eat what I can and so far I seem to be doing a good job.

Coffee Intake When Pregnant

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that moderate caffeine intake — less than 200 milligrams a day — won’t increase their risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.

The same cannot be said for higher amounts of caffeine, the group states in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“For years, women have been getting mixed messages about whether or not they should have any caffeine during pregnancy,” says William H. Barth Jr., MD, chair of ACOG’s committee on obstetric practice, in a news release. “After a review of the scientific evidence to date, daily moderate caffeine consumption doesn’t appear to have any major impact in causing miscarriage or preterm birth.”

The risks depend on the person, as with anything else, and most issues from caffeine intake are from extreme or high amounts of intake on a daily basis. This is not only from coffee, but sodas and teas as well. Here is a chart to help you know how much caffeine is in different drinks you may enjoy.

Bottom line: Do your own research. Talk to your care providers. Make your own choices. Don’t judge others if their choice is different than yours.


  • Andey

    My nurse brought me a cup of coffee during labor with my third.

    It’s been two and a half years and that still makes me smile when I think about it. It was a way to comfort me during an incredibly long, unpleasant induction without pain meds. That simple act- offering to bring me a cup of coffee- was the sweetest thing she did for me all day (and she was an amazing nurse.)

  • Randi

    When I was pregnant I had hyperemisis could not eat or drink even a teaspoon of water. But with each pregnancy I craved a different caffeinated soda. My dr told me to drink it. Anything was better then straight fluids with vitamins in it! All 3 of my children are healthy and happy! Above the statistis of what they should be. They’ve broken every stepstone! DRink your coffee! Enjoy it no hating here

  • Christina

    What you do, what we do, as childbirth workers/educators is offer evidence-based information discussing risks and benefits and leave it in their hands to make the best decision for them personally. Whether I agree with your choice or not is really irrelevant and I certainly do not need to treat you in a dishonoring, disrespectful way! I would not like to be treated in such a way! Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  • alicia

    I ate deli ham sandwiches and drank kombucha while pregnant *gasp*. My baby boy is perfectly healthy! I had an occasional cup of coffee and a latte, too, and would have happily drank more except that coffee sometimes disagreed with me during pregnancy. I also carried 50# bags of chicken feed until the middle of my third trimester, and finally relinquished the chore to my husband only because it got uncomfortable with my stomach in the way!

    What is it about our round tummies that makes people (even complete strangers) feel they need to know all about our pregnancies and to insert their two cents?

    Thank you for being a beautiful voice of freedom!

    • heidi

      I want to throw a *LIKE* to alicia– I keep my caffeine under 200 mg, drink an occasional wheat beer, eat sushi, eat deli meats, drink kombocha, drink a daily coke zero, carry moderately heavy stuff and I’m now in my 34th week. No morning sickness, no cravings, no aversions, no swelling, baby is head down, no gestational diabetes. I’ve pretty much kept the same lifestyle during pregnancy as I did before. I will trust my instincts, my medical staff and peer-reviewed research.

  • Amara

    $100 bucks all the crazies up in arms about a PSL will be drinking coca cola and thinking they’re holier than thou. I’d pass out without my local espresso bar! The staff are super lovely and in the fall, there are leaves everywhere, it’s cosy, they play Nina Simone… the relaxation I get from curling up in the window with my latte and a good book is far better than the stress of denial, so enjoy your PSL!

  • Phoebe

    Girl, I drank 2 20oz mochas a day! (Or more) I only got grief from the midwives (very crunchy) when I confessed just how much, but to be fair I was also eating pretty badly at the time.

  • Kristen

    Wow. Just wow. What boggles my mind is all of these restrictions during pregnancy on what you eat, drink, medications you take and the second they want the baby out, all of that goes out the window. I love bwf and I spent a lot of time on here and have read almost everything on here while I was pregnant with my second and trying for a vbac and dealing with hg for a second time after it being ignored with my first. This site has been amazing inspiration for me through very difficult times and you are amazing. Thank you for being you and congrats on your pregnancy!

  • Sabrina

    Thank you so much!!! While I was pregnant with both my kids, I got such bad migraines in the first trimester. The only thing that worked for my migraines was Advil, and since I couldn’t take it while pregnant, I was having almost 1 coffee a day. It was the only thing that gave me any relief besides the drugs. I had perfectly healthy and overdue babies. I’m not going to argue with a woman who drinks coffee while pregnant, cuz I had to as well. Again, thanx for this post and I’m praying for you and your new family addition!

  • britany reuther

    January, you’re amazing. Your coffee, husband, heart and life is amazing. Honestly I had enough liquid crack daily with both pregnancies to keep me awake for days but hey, they are healthy chunky happy darling children of mine ♥♥♥ drink up lover

  • Amie

    I am pregnant with my third and with the first two I was a manager in a retail store. This meant early mornings and late nights. Some mornings all that got me out of bed was that large double double!! One coffee a day is harmless! I find as a pregnant woman once you get over that and stop restricting yourself you don’t over do it. I drank maybe four to six cups a week with my first. With my second probably an average go seven a week and with this one two to three a week. All my babies are happy and healthy and I kind of attribute that to having a healthy happy pregnancy, WITH coffe lol!

  • Meghan

    I avoided caffeine like the plague during my IVF pregnancy out of fear of somehow messing something up. I obeyed all the do’s and don’ts, ya know what? My water broke spontaneously at 28 weeks and two weeks later I had an iugr preemie who spent 6 weeks in the nicu. Living in fear of following all the rules doesn’t guarantee you a perfect pregnancy, so enjoy the coffee, chocolate and other goodies.!

  • Lauryn

    Good for you!
    Honestly, I feel like some people have nothing better to do than sit on a computer and be rude. Do what you want, Mama!

  • Patricia

    I say that people are dumb and will always have an opinion I just learn to ignore them! I have had coffee with both of my pregnancies and while nursing and both of my kids are healthy as can be! My midwife said a cup a day was fine, I go to bed at 11 by the time the kids go to bed and I get stuff done then wake up at 4:45 a.m. For work, without coffee I wouldn’t function!
    As for being pregnant again, congrats!!! One of my best friends had 7 kids by the time she was 32! She is an amazing mommy! I give anyone that can handle more than 2 or 3 sooo much credit! Takes lots of patience! So way to go!!!

  • Sara

    I would LOVE to take you out for some coffee! 🙂 People will always have something to say about something, so why not laugh about it over some coffee.. Or a glass of… wine.

  • Cheyenne

    Starbucks was a regular stop for me on my way to work during my first pregnancy. It got me through the first couple hours of staring at a computer. Then with my second I needed it because I had a toddler at home that didn’t sleep through the night yet. Hot caffeinated beverages also helped elevate pregnancy constipation for me. And a cup of Chai or a PSL are comforting to me when I need a little me time. Curling up with a cup and a book during the kids’ naptime can rejuvenate a Mama.

    And as you said this is your first time and you know what is right for you. Good luck!

  • Janna Diderich

    I agree that it’s perfectly fine to have coffee in moderation, depending on the individual, like everything else! But, I don’t understand how can people be so judgmental about this. How do they even know if there isn’t decaf in a pregnant lady’s cup or no coffee? Sugar is probably worse than caffeine, haha.. Here you go: I drank maybe a few cups of caffeinated beverage a week, I ate flash frozen sushi (although, I avoided large fish like tuna and shark, etc) and SHOCKINGLY* I even drank 4oz of red wine every now and then, in the later trimesters.. Why? Because I’m a big smart girl who does her own research, doesn’t base all my decisions off fear publicity and learned that all of these things can actually be healthy in moderation! Also, my kids are freaking geniuses. Literally. Reading and doing math at 2 and 3.

  • Angela Anderton

    AMEN sister!
    I am pregnant with my 5th and just reaching the end of my first trimester. I cannot wait to have my morning cup back into my routine. Up too this point the smell of brewing coffee sends me to the toilet :/ yuck! I also home school my 4 others and that little push in the morning is such a help! My own little down time to get me headed off to a greater day!

  • Kate

    I drank one cup a day when pregnant- was careful to not go over 200 mg. My baby boy is totally healthy. Although, my husband says he will blame me if our son ends up short. Lol 😉

  • Sarah

    I was a geographically single mom with a toddler and going to school full time and writing my Senior Thesis while my husband and I were pregnant with #2. Coffee was a necessary part of my diet! And I suppose all 3 of my kids have adapted to coffee inutero so that it doesn’t affect them when I breastfeed. #winning People who complain about something as simple as a pregnant momma drinking a latte need a hobby!

  • Kelly

    I drank two cups a day with both my pregnancies and they are just fine!! Everything in moderation and WHATEVER WORKS!!!!! People who judge other’s should one look in the mirror first and foremost and two who cares what others think…not their life!!

  • Emzezez

    Good on you! I drank three cups of green tea a day when I was pregnant and they were delicious and helped my stay awake. People – even some who had not given birth themselves – told me that I shouldn’t. I survived, my baby survived and we were both happy.
    A pumpkin spiced latte looks delicious (and I can’t stand codfee so that’s saying a lot) so I hope you enjoyed it and that you get a chance to have another. Thanks for sticking to your guns and being an inspiration to pregnant women everywhere!

  • Kellie Gillespie

    Good grief! I do not understand some of these holier than thou woman who feel like they can judge what another woman chooses if it’s different from what they have chosen. I wish they could all walk in someone else’s shoes and then see what they say. Best of luck to you on number six!

  • Danamc14

    I am not saying caffeine is bad and you should not drink coffee while pregnant, but just having gone through my 4th miscarriage in a row with no explanation I will say that you analyze anything you could have done wrong. I had maybe 2 caffeinated beverages a week during my last pregnancy and I have that thought in my head that why did I have to drink those maybe that was the problem. While I doubt that is why I had the miscarriage to think what if I did not drink that beverage maybe I would still be pregnant, was that drink really worth it? Nope I would take a baby over a pumpkin spice latte everyday.

  • Bisc

    i’m so jealous. I’d love to have a coffee but just can’t stomach it during this pregnancy. I really miss it! Enjoy you lucky thing 🙂

  • Michelle

    Dang, this article made me want a cup of coffee… I think I’ll brew some now!
    oppppsss, did I mention I’m 35 weeks pregnant and fixing to have a cup of coffee…. *gasp* OH MY… the world may come to an end!!!!! LOL!!!!!
    Seriously (negative commenting) people…. isn’t there something else in the world that deserves your time?! HELLO!!!!!

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this post! Coffee is my number 1 vice! My doctor has said the same things. As long as it is in moderation, no worries. Sometimes you don’t have time for a nap!! Plus, it’s just so yummy 🙂

  • Erica Swick

    Reading your post made me giggle, hahaha… I’m not a huge caffeine consumer myself but this pregnancy it’s definitely been one of my ‘things’. I’ve had about six weeks, cumulative, of days where I just *need* coffee. It’s been word but I figure since I’m pretty healthy overall I can give in to this indulgence without guilt. I stay under the 200mg/day and my OB says I’m just fine 🙂 If only my caffeine consumption would actually put me into labor now! I’m ready to have this kid 😀

    BTW, great Huffington Post feature. You look radiantly content with yourself! <3

  • Amelia

    Thank you thank you thank you. Reading this through the fog of first trimester exhaustion coupled with lack of caffeine……got up and made myself a coffee!! Seriously, couldn’t figure out how to unfold the stroller today. Being that exhausted can’t be good for anyone.

  • Jo

    I am pregnant with #4. I miss coffee so much this time round. I have given up coffee yes but have swapped it for a snickers bar each day which I will not give up for anything or anyone. Do what feels good for you. I do what I need to, to get through my day. Lap it up, pregnancy is a chance to do what feels good for you and bubs. Not what makes others happy. And I am a nutritionist, who is loving her chocolate ……

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