We all know the feeling; Not quite awake, but certainly not sleeping. Fighting to keep moving while hoping for a pick-me-up to get us through the day.
There are a variety of options. From sleep schedules to dietary habits, a routine is a common occurrence. One of the most common of these habits is a cup of coffee in the morning to start the day. The down-side, however is when 2:00 p.m. comes, and it brings a sizable crash with it. Desperately, we reach for another cup (or possibly a soda) to keep us moving.
Then you get the news. You’re pregnant. You’re inundated with information from every direction, all the while, you’re still struggling to kick-start every day.
What is acceptable? What is safe? What should be avoided? All questions that need answered. Let’s take a looks at the facts about consuming caffeine during pregnancy:
Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic. That means it increases blood pressure and heart rate, both of which can be harmful during pregnancy.
Caffeine increases the frequency of urination. This causes reduction in body fluid levels and can lead to dehydration, which can be harmful during pregnancy.
Caffeine crosses the placenta to the baby. Adults have a much higher tolerance to caffeine than an unborn baby because baby’s metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolize the caffeine. This can result in harmful effects on the baby.
Caffeine stimulates a baby. Even trace amounts of caffeine can cause changes in a baby’s sleep pattern or normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. Again, caffeine is a stimulant and can keep both mother and baby awake.
Caffeine is found in many foods and drinks. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea and soda, but those aren’t the only sources. It can also be found in chocolate and many over-the-counter medications that relieve headaches. Reading ingredient labels is a “must” during pregnancy.
Does caffeine cause birth defects?
Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, premature labor, preterm delivery, reduced fertility and increase the risk of low-birth weight offspring and other reproductive problems.
Technically, no conclusive studies have been completed on humans, but it is unwise to take these sort of risks. Playing it safe takes little effort and decreases risk of many complications.
Does caffeine cause infertility?
Studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception.
Does caffeine cause miscarriages?
In 2008, two studies on the effects of caffeine related to miscarriage showed significantly different outcomes. In one study released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was found that women who consume 200mg or more of caffeine daily are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those who do not consume any caffeine.
In another study released by Epidemiology, there was no increased risk in women who consumed between 200-350mg per day.
Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee.
Should pregnant women avoid caffeine all together?
Many experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. “Moderate levels” has been defined as anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
The less caffeine a pregnant woman consumes, the better. Some experts say more than 150 mg of caffeine a day is too much, while others say more than 300 mg a day is too much. Avoiding caffeine is the safest course of action, though moderate intake isn’t out of the question.
As always, we recommend that you discuss dietary considerations with a health care provider to make the healthiest choice for you and your baby.
(Source: The American Pregnancy Association)