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Giving Up Coffee Has Made Me a Better Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

For most of my life I’ve been very anti-caffeine. Growing up, I tsk-tsked my parents for their 2-3 cups of coffee per day and I avoided caffeine in any form. I had enough energy without caffeine, I said.

And then, I had a child.

That was about seven years ago, and I’ve had coffee just about every day since. There have been several reports about the benefits of coffee in moderation, so I felt happy with my choice of morning beverage. However, this past March, a study was released showing increased risk of miscarriage for couples who drank more than two cups of coffee per day in the months leading up to conception. Yikes. We hope to have more kids at some point, so I made a mental note to lay off the caffeine when that day approached.

RELATED: What You Didn't Know About Decaf Might Convince You To Switch

Then, I saw another article that showed what happens to your body when you give up caffeine. After a period of fatigue and irritability, it said I’d sleep better. I’d have more energy for more of the day. This little nugget I found especially intriguing: “Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it hits your nervous system's gas pedal. Caffeine triggers a release of adrenaline, needlessly putting you into 'fight or flight' mode ... Get rid of caffeine, and you'll feel less anxious and stressed.”

Less stress? As a mom of a very high energy and noisy 6-year-old and a pushing-her-limits 2-year-old, less stress sounded superb. I’d never experienced motherhood decaffeinated, but I had to try it.

I'm about a month into being a caffeine-free mama, and here’s what it's like: I feel more balanced and less explosive.

Every three days, I decreased my morning cup of joe by an ounce or two. I didn’t feel any side effects other than slightly lower energy levels until I’d weaned myself down to three ounces and just stopped. Once I stopped completely, the fatigue, headaches and irritability set in for about a week. I popped some Tylenol and held out. I’d also started taking a magnesium supplement, which had decreased the number of headaches I experienced even with caffeine.

And then, it passed.

I started to remember what it’s like to be myself, without any stimulants or medications. (I’ve also given up hormonal birth control this year.) I'm about a month into being a caffeine-free mama, and here’s what it's like: I feel more balanced and less explosive.

RELATED: Nursing and the Effects of Caffeine

It takes much more to set me off. I yell less. I have slightly less energy in the morning (as opposed to the caffeine buzz I used to get from coffee), and instead I have a good level of energy all day. No afternoon slump. I’m less anxious about achieving everything in the morning, because I know I’ll still have enough energy when my husband gets home in the afternoon. Energy doesn’t feel like such a limited resource.

I dig it.

I’m more calm, more productive and less stressed. But there were times that I wouldn’t have been able to stay awake at all, if not for that blessed cup of coffee in the morning. When those days return, you bet I’ll brew some up without hesitation. And I’ll do so knowing it’s a temporary fix, and hope I remember how good decaf motherhood feels.

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