During pregnancy, you tend to be more conscious of your health and diet. You give up things like alcohol, raw fish sushi, and unpasteurized soft cheeses. But, what about caffeine? Do you have to give up your morning coffee, soft drinks and a regular chocolate bar?
Fortunately, you can still have daily caffeine during pregnancy, but there are some important things to know about how to safely consume caffeine during pregnancy.
Caffeine Safety Recommendations During Pregnancy
Caffeine is an ingredient in many drinks, foods, and snacks, so it can be difficult to completely avoid caffeine. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry too much about adding small to moderate amounts of caffeine each day during pregnancy.
Most experts agree that it is safe to have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day during pregnancy.equivalent to about two 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee.
How does caffeine affect the body during pregnancy?
Although it takes longer to clear caffeine from the body during pregnancy, small to moderate amounts are usually well tolerated. However, some people who had no problem with caffeine before becoming pregnant may discover that it affects them differently when they are expecting. For example, people who used to love their first cup of coffee in the morning may not be able to perceive the smell or taste of it anymore.
If you find yourself still able to tolerate caffeine, you can take some, but be aware that caffeine is a drug and it can have side effects.
- It’s a stimulant. Stimulants increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can keep you awake and give you more energy, but too much caffeine can make you feel anxious and shaky. It can also cause trouble sleeping and insomnia.
- It’s a diuretic. Diuretics remove water from the body. It can make you want to pee more. However, in moderate amounts, it is unlikely to lead to dehydration.
- It’s addictive. With regular use, your body will get used to caffeine. If you stop taking it suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches, irritability, and fatigue.
How does caffeine affect the unborn baby?
When you’re pregnant, caffeine crosses the placenta and reaches the fetus.Since a baby’s body is still developing, the liver, brain, and nervous system are immature and can’t process caffeine the way an adult can.
While experts aren’t sure exactly how caffeine intake can affect fetal development, there are a few things they do know:
- Caffeine stimulates the baby, so you may feel your baby more active not long after you consume caffeine.
- It can increase the baby’s heart rate and cause an irregular heartbeat or sleep disturbance.
- It is also difficult for a developing baby to get too much caffeine out of the body. With continued consumption of large amounts of caffeine, the drug can build up in the baby’s body. After birth, infants may show withdrawal symptoms including irritability, tremors, and disrupted sleep.
Given these effects, it is safer for your baby if you can limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams per day.
Potential concerns during pregnancy
While prestigious institutions such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March of Dimes, and the World Health Organization All confirm the 200-milligram daily recommendation, a review study published in 2020 concluded that any amount of caffeine is possibly unsafe during pregnancy. Concerns about the possibility of low birth weight, miscarriage, preterm labor or other problems related to delivery were cited in the study.
Research is still ongoing, but a review of the studies mentioned above provides the following information on caffeine consumption and concerns about possible pregnancy:
- Miscarriage: Although not all studies are unanimous, the two studies included in the review found a 32% and 36% increase in miscarriage rates in mothers who consumed more than 150 milligrams of caffeine per day. The review also concluded that the risk of miscarriage increased with caffeine intake, with the risk increasing from 7% to 14% per 100 milligrams of caffeine consumed per day and 19% per 150 milligrams consumed per day.
- Premature birth: While some studies indicate that small to moderate amounts of caffeine do not induce preterm labor, the review notes that in observational studies, the risk of preterm birth increased by 28% per 100 milligrams of caffeine consumed. every day during pregnancy.
- Low birth weight: Caffeine has also been linked to a higher chance of having a small for gestational age (SGA). The risk appears to be lower for those who consume less than 100 milligrams per day, with low birth weight rates increasing by an average of 7% to 13% for every 100 milligrams of caffeine consumed per day.
Amount of Caffeine in Popular Foods and Drinks
There are some products like regular coffee that you know have caffeine. But caffeine is also a common ingredient in many other foods and beverages. Foods that do not list caffeine as an ingredient are not necessarily caffeine-free. Even decaffeinated items can still have small amounts.
Here are some drinks and snacks you can enjoy and how much caffeine they contain. The amount of caffeine in each item listed below is a general average. These amounts can vary, as the actual amount of caffeine in each product depends on the brand and manufacturing method:
|Regular coffee (home brewed)||8 ounces (1 cup)||95 mg|
|Caffeinated coffee||8 ounces (1 cup)||2 mg|
|Dunkin’ Donuts Regular Hot Coffee||10 ounces (small)||150 mg|
|Starbucks Concentrated Roasted Coffee||8 ounces (short)||130 mg|
|Black tea||1 tea bag||40 mg|
|Tea||1 tea bag||20 mg|
|decaf tea||1 tea bag||2 mg|
|Hershey’s Milk Chocolate||1.55 ounces (1 bar)||9 mg|
|Black chocolate||1 ounce||12 mg|
|Hot Chocolate||8 ounces (1 cup)||5 mg|
|Red Bull Energy Drink||8.4 fl. oz. (1 can)||80 mg|
|Coca-Cola||12 panels. oz. (1 can)||34 mg|
|Diet Coke||12 panels. oz. (1 can)||46 mg|
|Pepsi||12 panels. oz. (1 can)||38 mg|
|Diet Pepsi||12 panels. oz. (1 can)||34 mg|
Caffeine in medicine
Before taking any medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) products, talk to your doctor to make sure they’re safe. The two most commonly used over-the-counter medications with caffeine as the active ingredient are Excedrin and Midol.
- Excedrin contains 65 milligrams of caffeine per tablet or geltab. Excedrin Extra Strength, Excedrin Migraine, and Excedrin Tension Headache products have the same caffeine dose. There is no caffeine in Excedrin PM Headache.
- Midol Complete has 60 milligrams of caffeine in each tablet. Midol and Midol Long Lasting Relief are caffeine free.
Some prescription drugs may also contain caffeine. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking and whether they’re safe for pregnancy.
A very good word
When you’re pregnant, you want to make the best choices for you and your baby, but making an informed decision can be confusing and difficult when there’s a lot of conflicting information about safety. When it comes to consuming caffeine, the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor at your prenatal appointments. Your doctor will monitor you and your baby and update you with the most recent recommendations.
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Peacock A, Hutchinson D, Wilson J, et al. Adherence to guidelines for caffeine intake during pregnancy and birth outcomes: A prospective cohort study. Nutrients. 2018; 10 (3). doi: 10.3390 / nu10030319
Temple JL, Bernard C, Lipshultz SE, Czachor JD, Westphal JA, Mestre MA. The safety of ingested caffeine: A comprehensive review. Psychiatry ahead. 2017; 8. doi: 10.3389 / fpsyt.2017,00080
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion #462: Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Gynecol Obstetrics. 2010; 116 (2 Tr 1): 467-468. doi: 10.1097 / AOG.0b013e3181eeb2a1
March of Dimes. Caffeine in pregnancy.
World Health Organization. Limit caffeine intake during pregnancy.
James J.E. Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: A narrative review with implications for advice for mothers and expectant mothers. Evidence-based medicine BMJ. 2020; bmjebm-2020-111432 doi: 10.1136 / bmjebm-2020-111432
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