Do you like to have a cup of coffee in the morning? Or maybe you enjoy a can of cola during the day.
If so, you’re not alone – caffeine is one of the most popular drinks in the world. But what many people don’t know is that caffeine can be dangerous for pregnant women. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about caffeine and pregnancy.
We’ll cover what caffeine does to a pregnant woman, how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy, and where pregnant women can find caffeine in their food.
There are some myths about caffeine and pregnancy. But we’ll talk about the risks of drinking too much caffeine.
So, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, read on for all the information you need on caffeine and pregnancy!
What is caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that occurs naturally in some plants. It is most commonly found in coffee, tea, and cocoa beans. Caffeine can also be added to energy drinks, sodas, and chocolate.
In its pure form, caffeine is a white powder that has a bitter taste. It is water-soluble and can be absorbed through the skin.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant by affecting the brain and central nervous system. It increases alertness, improves mood, and enhances physical performance. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect, which means it helps to increase urine output.
Sources of caffeine in food and drink
Coffee and tea are commonly consumed caffeinated beverages. However, there is also caffeine in chocolate, soft drinks, and many medications.
Caffeine is found in beverages and foods, including:
- Instant coffee and tea
- Some energy drinks
- Certain carbonated sodas like Cola (Pepsi, Coke, etc)
- Energy bars
- Ice cream (if coffee or chocolate flavoured)
- Baked goods
- Some prescription and over-the-counter medications
Caffeine in painkillers
Some painkillers have caffeine in them. This includes some types of paracetamol. Tablets that have both paracetamol and caffeine are not recommended. You can find out how much paracetamol and caffeine are in each tablet by reading the patient information leaflet.
Benefits of Caffeine
The benefits of caffeine are wide-ranging and it can be useful in so many different ways. Caffeine can be a great way to give yourself an extra boost when you need it most.
It’s been shown time and again that this simple little molecule has many benefits for your health, including improving focus or increasing energy levels! Research shows how caffeine stimulates our brain and increases mental alertness.
It also treats headaches when combined with pain relievers like acetaminophen! Additionally some beverages contain antioxidants which protect cells from damage while reducing inflammation over time — all great things for your health!
How much caffeine is safe during pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. This is equivalent to about two cups of coffee in a day.
You would reach the recommended limit of 200mg per day if you consume:
- 1 mug of instant coffee with 250 ml of caffeinated energy drinks.
- 2 mugs of instant coffee
- 2 mugs of tea with 1 can of cola
This includes all forms of caffeine, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate.
How much caffeine is found in different foods and drinks
The amount of caffeine in food and drink can vary. For example, a cup of coffee can have anywhere from 30-180 mg of caffeine, while a can of pepsi or coke soda has about 35 mg. Even coffee flavoured ice-cream has some caffeine in it.
|Food/Drink||Approximate milligrams (mg) of Caffeine|
|1 cup of instant coffee||100 mg|
|1 cup of filtered coffee||140 mg|
|1 can of soft drink (cola)||35 mg|
|1 cup of tea||75 mg|
|Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45 ounce)||31 mg|
|Milk Chocolate Bar (1.55 ounce)||11 mg|
|One cup of decaffeinated coffee||12 mg|
|One cup of hot chocolate/cocoa||9 mg|
|Ice-cream, coffee flavour (1/2 cup)||20-30 mg|
|Ice-cream, chocolate flavour (1/2 cup)||2-8 mg|
So that means moderate amounts of caffeine like one cup of coffee a day is fine while pregnant and shouldn’t have any adverse effect on you or your baby. I also wouldn’t worry if you have a little more caffeine than recommended the odd day either. The overall risks of pregnancy complications related to caffeine are quite low.
So, if you are pregnant and enjoy drinking caffeinated beverages, there is no need to give them up entirely. Just be sure to limit your intake to no more than 200 mg per day.
However, pregnant women who are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine may want to abstain from all caffeinated drinks.
So, what happens if you ignore the recommendations and consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day while pregnant?
Well, drinking too much caffeine can put your baby at risk of limiting its growth and having a miscarriage. Over and above those severe risks, too much caffeine, in general, can cause:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
What does caffeine do to a pregnant woman?
The risks of taking caffeine during pregnancy are still being studied. However, we do know that caffeine can cross the placenta and enter the fetus’s bloodstream.
In pregnant women, caffeine is metabolized by the placenta and passed on to the fetus. Caffeine can stay in a pregnant woman’s system for up to 20 hours, which means that pregnant women need to be careful about how much caffeine they consume.
Caffeine can also increase the heart rate and blood pressure of a pregnant woman. Caffeine is also a diuretic, so it can cause you to lose more fluid than you take in. This can lead to dehydration, which isn’t good for you or your baby.
If you’re really struggling to give up caffeine completely, try cutting back slowly over a few weeks until you’re down to zero. And remember that decaffeinated coffee and tea still contain small amounts of caffeine, so pregnant women should limit their intake of these beverages as well.
Caffeine risks on the developing baby fetus
We don’t know exactly how caffeine affects pregnant women and their babies. However, we do know that high levels of caffeine can lead to miscarriage.
Caffeine has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight. Caffeine also affects the baby’s heart rate. High levels of caffeine can also cause the baby to be jittery and irritable.
A research study by U.S. National Library of Medicine found that pregnant women who consumed caffeine had a 37.8% greater chance of giving birth to low-birth weight children than those without it! Analysis also showed 3% higher odds for every 100 mg of caffeine consumed per day, which is around one cup of cofee or two cups of tea.
Caffeine can also cross the placenta and enter the baby’s bloodstream. During pregnancy, your body takes longer to break down and metabolize caffeine. This means that you might have caffeine in your bloodstream for a while after you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages. This is called caffeine clearance. This is how long it takes for the coffee to leave your body.
The placenta provides your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Because of this, when you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, your baby will be on the receiving end of it. While there are studies that have conflicting evidence, it’s best to keep your caffeine intake to under 200 mg at most, but 75g would be far safer.
However, because the enzyme system of a fetus is immature, the caffeine cannot be readily metabolized in the fetus.
As the pregnancy progresses, the rate at which caffeine is metabolized slows down. This means that there is more caffeine available to the fetus.
The caffeine in your coffee can end up in your baby’s tissues. This can cause the baby to have too much of a chemical called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). This chemical can slow down the baby’s growth and development.
How much caffeine crosses the placenta
Caffeine can cross the placenta and enter the fetus’s bloodstream although the amount of caffeine that goes across is lower. Caffeine can stay in a pregnant woman’s system for up to 20 hours, which means that pregnant women need to be careful about how much caffeine they consume.
Fetal blood levels of caffeine are about half of the maternal levels. The half-life of caffeine in pregnant women is about twice as long as it is in non-pregnant women.
Caffeine and miscarriage
There is some evidence that higher levels of caffeine can cause miscarriages during pregnancy.
At 300mg of caffeine a day there’s a 37% increased risk of miscarriage, and at 600mg of caffeine a day there’s two-and-a-half times increased risk of miscarriage.
Caffeine can also increase the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight. And you should definitely drink less caffeine in your third trimester because it can go into the baby’s bloodstream. Caffeine can also increase the heart rate and blood pressure of a pregnant woman.
There is some evidence during a study from NIH and Ohio State University that caffeine from drinking two or more cups of coffee leading up to falling pregnant can lead to miscarriage risk.
A new study offers the strongest evidence to date linking caffeine consumption during pregnancy to miscarriage because it’s the first study to thoroughly control for pregnancy-related caffeine aversion. A Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study of 1,063 pregnant women also found that women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine per day doubled their miscarriage risk.
That said, it’s generally recommended that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day (about two cups of coffee). So if you are pregnant, it’s best to play it safe and avoid consuming any caffeine.
Is Decaf Coffee Safe During Pregnancy?
Some people think that decaffeinated coffee is a good substitute for regular coffee. But it still has traces of the chemical. A single cup of decaf contains between 2 and 12 milligrams of caffeine. So if you like the flavor and don’t want your coffee to make you feel jittery, you can drink more decaf before hitting the 200-mg limit.
It’s fine to drink decaf coffee and tea while pregnant, according on Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., a dietitian in New York City and author of Feed Your Family Right. Even little quantities of caffeine in so-called decaf products might accumulate over time if you have many cups a day.
Some people think that decaf coffee is harmful to your health. But this might not be true for all types of decaf coffee. An independent study found that some brands of decaf coffee contain a chemical called methylene chloride. This chemical is used in paint strippers, adhesives, and other products. It is used during the decaffeination process for coffee.
Methylene chloride has been linked to cancer, memory problems, and asphyxiation. It can also damage your liver, kidneys, and reproductive system.
You might wonder if your preferred brand of decaf coffee is toxic. The Clean Label Project recently tested 23 top-selling products for contaminants. You can see the results of their findings here.
Alternatives to caffeinated drinks during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and want to avoid caffeine, there are plenty of alternatives. Decaffeinated coffee and tea are widely available and just as delicious. Herbal teas are also a great caffeine-free option.
There are also many sparkling water options that are flavored with fruit juice or other natural flavors. These drinks can be a refreshing and healthy alternative to sugary sodas.
If you are pregnant and want to cut down or avoid caffeine, there are plenty of alternatives to caffeinated drinks. Here are a few:
- Switch to decaffeinated coffee or tea.
- Drink herbal teas instead of caffeinated teas.
- Drink sparkling or still water instead of soda.
- Fruit smoothies
- Fresh juice
These are just a few tips to help you cut down on your caffeine intake during pregnancy. If you’re drinking coffee to get through the day, make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your energy levels up.
Remember, every pregnant woman is different and you should listen to your body when it comes to caffeine and pregnancy.
How to wean off caffeine if you’re currently consuming too much
If you find that you are pregnant and currently consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to wean yourself off caffeine gradually.
- Start by cutting down your intake by half. So, if you’re drinking four cups of coffee a day, switch to two cups a day.
- Begin mixing decaffeinated coffee with regular caffeinated coffee.
- Then, slowly decrease the amount of caffeine you’re consuming over a period of several days or weeks.
- Then, stop drinking caffeinated coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
You can also try substituting caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated versions, herbal teas, or sparkling water. And remember, it’s always best to consult your doctor if you have any questions about caffeine and pregnancy.
Tips for reducing your overall caffeine intake
Cutting down on caffeine during pregnancy can be difficult, but it is definitely worth it! Here are a few tips for reducing your caffeine intake:
- Abstain from all caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate
- Drink plenty of water and other non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day
- Switch to decaf coffee or tea
- Eat smaller meals more often instead of large meals
- Avoid consuming caffeine late in the day
Final Thoughts – caffeine during pregnancy
Pregnant women can safely consume up to 200 mg of caffeine per day without any adverse effects.
This isn’t just coffee but includes all forms of caffeine, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate. So, if you are pregnant and enjoy drinking caffeinated beverages, there is no need to give them up entirely. Just keep track of how much you consume and stick to less than 200 grams of caffeine per day.
Consuming higher amounts of caffeine could lead to a risk of miscarriage so if you truly want to be safe, then we suggest cutting caffeine and drinks like coffee out altogether.
Trusted Sources and References
- Kids Health Org <https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/preg-caffeine.html>
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby <https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/caffeine-during-pregnancy>
- Science Daily <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080121080402.htm>
- National Health Services UK <https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/>
- Sleep.org <https://www.sleep.org/sleep-questions/foods-with-caffeine/>
- BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine <https://ebm.bmj.com/content/26/3/114>
- BMC Medicine <https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-014-0174-6>
- National Institutes of Health <https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/moderate-daily-caffeine-intake-during-pregnancy-may-lead-smaller-birth-size>
- Center for Science in the Public Interest <https://www.cspinet.org/caffeine-chart>
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