Caffeine is an extremely popular stimulant, not just in America, but throughout the world. However, did you know that once you become pregnant, you’ll need to limit your caffeine intake?
While most pregnant women know to cut out alcohol, many don’t realize they need to cut the amount of caffeine they consume too. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about caffeine and pregnancy.
How Much Caffeine Should You Consume During Pregnancy?
Due to a large number of conflicting studies on the issue, it’s extremely difficult to establish exactly how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. However, the American College of Obstetricians recommends you stick to less than 200 milligrams each day. This is roughly an 11-ounce mug of coffee.
So, provided you intake just 200mg of caffeine each day, it’s unlikely to cause any issues for you or baby.
Why Should Caffeine Be Limited?
When you’re pregnant, everything you eat and drink is passed onto baby. In the case of caffeine, it enters baby’s bloodstream via the amniotic fluid. The trouble is, your baby’s body isn’t yet able to properly process caffeine. This means, they are exposed to the stimulant for a much longer time period than you are.
So, what can this prolonged caffeine exposure do? Well, largely it can lead to baby being born with a low birth weight. However, there are also links to miscarriage, birth defects and can impact the way baby moves during the pregnancy. The birth defect link has only been established in animal studies. However, it’s still worth playing it safe and sticking to the recommended intake to err on the side of caution.
It’s not just your baby who could suffer from a high caffeine intake either. Drinks such as tea and coffee, contain certain compounds which are known to impact iron absorption. This can be a pretty big problem as many pregnant women already have low iron levels. Iron is required to carry oxygen throughout both yours and your baby’s body, so ensuring you’re getting enough of it is essential.
There’s also the fact that caffeine can make you feel anxious, lead to insomnia and trigger heartburn. Pregnancy is already known to cause issues with sleep due to heartburn and indigestion. So, if you have too much caffeine, it could make these natural side effects of pregnancy even worse.
Studies carried out have been conflicting, but one thing has been made clear – these risks only seem to occur in pregnant women who consume over 200mg of caffeine a day.
Sources Of Caffeine
When you think about cutting down your caffeine intake, coffee is typically the main thing you look to cut back on. However, did you know that caffeine can be found in a surprising number of foods and drinks?
Just some other sources of caffeine to be aware of include:
- Energy drinks
- Fizzy soda
Caffeine can be found in both milk and dark chocolate, but it’s most added to 70% to 85% dark chocolate with approximately 23mg per ounce. In milk chocolate there’s approximately 9mg in every 1.55 ounces. Chocolate chips are the most surprising caffeine culprits with a staggering 53mg in every 4 ounces. So, if you like baking, you may want to hold off adding chocolate chips until after your pregnancy!
Energy drinks and fizzy soda also contain a high level of caffeine. In the popular 5-Hour Energy drink, there’s 138mg of caffeine in just 2 ounces. In Jolt Cola there’s 72mg of caffeine in 12 ounces, while in 12 ounces of Pepsi, there’s 38mg of caffeine added.
If you were to drink coffee, fizzy soda and eat dark chocolate within just one day, you can easily see how you’d be consuming much more than the recommended maximum 200mg daily allowance.
So, what about tea and coffee? Well, if you love your coffee you’ll be better off with instant, rather than brewed varieties. This is because in a generic 8-ounce brewed coffee, there’s 95-200mg of caffeine. In generic instant coffee, one teaspoon of granules contains approximately 31g of caffeine. That’s a pretty significant difference! In tea, there’s just 5mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce Lipton Brisk Iced tea, but a staggering 95mg of caffeine in a 16-ounce Starbuck’s Tazo Chai Latte tea.
It’s not just food and drinks which can contain caffeine either. Perhaps its most surprising source is the popular Cocoa butter lotion. Often used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, the lotion contains a small amount of caffeine.
Tips For Cutting Down Your Caffeine Intake
Cutting back on caffeine isn’t as easy as it sounds. The withdrawal symptoms can be pretty nasty, particularly if you try to cut it out altogether. So, you may find it easier to simply cut back.
You can start by following the advice above to switch to instant coffee instead of brewed. If you do want to cut back on your coffee intake, you can also try switching to decaffeinated. That way, you get the taste of coffee without the actual caffeine. However, there’s even some safety concerns raised over decaffeinated drinks. This is because the decaffeinated process may use Formaldehyde – A potential precursor for Autism. So, it may be worth talking to your doctor before making the switch.
These are just some of the ways you can cut back. As with anything, it’s always best to speak to a doctor before making any dietary changes; especially when you’re pregnant. While it may be tempting to switch to herbal teas for example, certain herbs are considered unsafe for consumption during pregnancy. So, it’s always important to get a medical opinion before making dietary changes.
I am a coffee drinker. An addict, if having more than two cups a day is classified as one. Being pregnant and staying away from coffee while pregnant is hard. There were days that I’d love to just even smell it. But out of fear for the one I am carrying inside of me, I stayed away from it. Also from chocolates and other drinks that contains caffeine. I am glad that my husband supported me by not drinking coffee too. He shared the caffeine diet with me because he knows how dependent I am to coffee every morning.
Come nine months and the baby is out. Finally I can have that coffee. Or so i thought. Because I was breastfeeding, I still opted not to drink coffee or any drink that contains caffeine. Because I noticed that every time I drink tea or coffee, my baby’s sleep is so shallow and somehow I can associate this with me drinking coffee and breastfeeding him. And so I stopped for the next nine months after giving birth and breastfeeding. I guess you can do anything for that bundle of joy.
Great job, Amie! Yes, I totally agree with you that a mother can do anything for her bundle of joy.
I’m sure it’s not easy to get rid of coffee from your diet but you did it. And let us not forget the sacrifice your husband did as well. It only shows you are very responsible and loving parents.
I drink a lot of coffee I never knew it causes problem when you are pregnant, guess that also caused my miscarriage issues from the onset, I can’t go an hour without drinking coffee (I am so addicted to coffee). I wish I had come across this article it would have said the lifes of my unborn babies, am going to use this to advice other pregnant women too so they won’t make mistakes like I did.
So sorry to hear about your miscarriage, Adesuwa08. Words would not be enough to ease the pain of losing a child. We pray that God gives you strength to deal with it. Sometimes we are not able to understand why things happen. We hope God grant your heart’s desire.
Miscarriages is one of the most painful experience of all pregnant mothers as there is no amount of words of consolation that would stop the mother from aching after the pregnancy loss. There is one good friend of mine who have had more than 5 miscarriages and it’s psychologically affecting her now. I just hope that God shows her mercy sooner than later in order to put a smile on her face.
This is really informative for most pregnant women who cares for the well being and good health conditions of their unborn baby. Caffeine is good but too much intake of it, is harmful to the baby mostly. It is a wise thing to always look out for the child’s health and body condition when consuming a lot of things. Just like alcohol is not good for babies, the same thing is applicable to caffeine consumption. Parents ought to be very careful where their babies are concerned.
You’re right, anything that is too much is not good. Drinks with caffeine should be taken in moderation when one is pregnant, and if possible, avoid it. It will not be easy but it will all be worth it, after all, it’s for the baby’s well-being 🙂
I totally agree with you on this, it’s not as if the parent is given a lifetime probation from caffeine intake. It’s just for a couple of months and the baby is out from the belly and another say 1 year and breastfeeding is done. By then the mother can consume any amount of caffeine she feels like and even alcohol if she is inclined to taking that as well. The baby’s health should always come first no matter what.
Yes, it’s just for a few months so that should not be too much to ask from a loving mom 🙂
As long as a mother cares for her baby’s well being, she would go to any length in ensuring that the baby is safe and healthy. A few months definitely wouldn’t be a problem for such mother’s to go without caffeine intake.
When my wife was pregnant, our obstetrician recommended only three cups of coffee or tea. What is the danger associated with caffeine, we asked him. He said caffeine can pass into the bloodstream of the baby and it might harm him. Since wife had already gone through a miscarriage, we were extra cautious. Therefore, wife totally avoided tea and coffee.
Your wife’s avoidance of coffee and tea during her pregnancy is a wise decision. It’s good to know all went well with her second pregnancy 🙂 I’m sure you’re taking care of your little bundle of joy the best way you can. Keep it up!
I read that green tea contains caffeine as well but what I wish to know is whether its caffeine concentration pose any threat to pregnant mother’s baby or a breastfeeding mother’s?
An article from livestrong. com states that: “…the American Pregnancy Association (says) decaffeinated non-herbal teas still contain some level of caffeine,” and that the fetus is unable to metabolize it. It also said in another article that even decaffeinated green tea still has traces of caffeine and “might affect your baby’s wake and sleep patterns.”
You can check the info through these links:
Alright, thanks for taking out your time to research on this and get me link to follow it up. This would help me know exactly what effect green tea posses to a pregnant mother’s baby. I was of the opinion that it’s definitely good but this research have proved me wrong. Thanks once more.