Pregnancy Nutrition

How Much Caffeine is Safe During Pregnancy

Caffeine During Pregnancy
Written by Stephanie McClane

Many women swear off their caffeine habit as soon as they are pregnant. The coffee, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke habits get left behind in the excitement of the new pregnancy. This is probably a good thing. Then there are a few women who continue with their old habits but may cut back. So just how dangerous is caffeine to an unborn baby and for the pregnancy?

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally produced drug and works as a stimulant for human body. Although regular usage does not threaten well-being of a person, but still it is addictive because caffeine withdrawal can lead to irritability, headache, depression and lack of concentration. Daily intake of caffeine minimizes the chances of pregnancy and if pregnant can lead to severe consequences for both mother and baby. Sometimes the aftereffects results in even still birth.

In recent years there has been quite a bit of research done on the effects of caffeine on the developing fetus. It has been found that too much caffeine can cause complications such as preterm labor and/or low birth weight. There are also some problems that can come with the beverages that caffeine is in. Drinks such as regular Mountain Dew or regular Coca-cola have significant amounts of sugar.

What is Permissible Limit of Caffeine During Pregnancy?

How much caffeine is safe during pregnancy is one of most frequently asked questions universally. No one is sure whether it is truth or fiction that consumption of caffeine during pregnancy can cause serious repercussions for fetus. According to medical association, caffeine is safe if taken in very moderate quantities. Permissible limit for an intake of caffeine during pregnancy is less than two hundred milligrams per day. Although one is unable to find any overwhelming evidence for being contradictory but keeping a safe side it is advisable to either limit or stop the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy.

Which food items includes an intake of Caffeine

It is a myth amongst the people that caffeine is only in coffee. Instead, traces are available in following food items-

  • Coffee has highest amount of caffeine.
  • Tea in all capacities whether average blend, instant or green have small amounts of caffeine content.
  • Soft drinks including cola and diet cola have caffeine.
  • Cocoa products like hot cocoa mix, milk chocolate and chocolate milk have some amount of caffeine.

Read more: What to Eat During Pregnancy for Healthy Baby

Effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy

There are Numerous effects of caffeine during pregnancy some of them are as follows:-

  • Caffeine is a diuretic and a stimulant as its consumption increases pressure of blood vessels.
  • Feeding caffeine in our body increases the heart rate that can have an adverse effect on pregnancy.
  • Too much caffeine during pregnancy generally maximizes urine production. Therefore, frequency of visiting toilet increases and can result in reduced levels of body fluids. This can also lead to dehydration in some cases.
  • It is not possible for growing baby to handle the caffeine intake during pregnancy. As its rate of metabolism is, still under progress it is unable to metabolize amount of caffeine consumed.
  • Even moderate amounts of caffeine can change movement pattern of baby during third trimester of pregnancy. As caffeine works as a stimulant, it keeps baby awake therefore resulting in disturbed sleep for mother. This is one of the main reasons of why is caffeine bad during pregnancy.
  • Drinking of high quantities of caffeine in any form restricts growth of baby in the mother’s womb.
  • How much caffeine is OK during pregnancy is debatable but higher levels of intake can result in lower weight of baby during birth. Lesser weight can cause various other problems in health of a baby later.
  • Sometimes usage of high doses of caffeine can result in congenital malformations.
  • Caffeine consumption during pregnancy can lead to a case of miscarriage.

It is assumed that the intake of caffeine can pass on to breast milk in very marginal quantities. The mother unknowingly passes it to her baby through nursing. These babies have trouble in finding undisturbed sleep.

Caffeine and pregnancy: What’s safe?

Caffeine actually has no nutritional value. We generally consume caffeine because it is a stimulant and it increases alertness. Caffeine can also increase our heart rates. It can cause insomnia and headaches. The unfortunate thing about all of this when you are pregnant is that caffeine crosses the placenta so it can potentially affect your baby the same way it affects you. This can put undue stress on your baby. Also, when you are pregnant you tend to be very tired and you need sleep. Anything that can potentially keep you from getting restful sleep is bad for you and bad for your baby.

Another concern with consuming caffeine during pregnancy is that it is a diuretic. This can cause you to become dehydrated because you are losing fluids, which can cause complications for you and for the baby.

While moderate amounts of caffeine have been deemed safe for the developing fetus, you may want to consider whether or not you want to continue drinking it at all during your pregnancy. Small amounts are okay and if you can stick with one small cup of coffee a day, you may be okay but do not drink more than that. You should stick with caffeine free drinks or decaf coffee instead. Or best of all, stop drinking caffeinated drinks and drink more clean, pure water instead.

About the author

Stephanie McClane

Hi, I’m Stephanie. I graduated college with a business degree and a minor in biology. I met my husband at a business convention and was happily marriage and pregnant within the first two years after saying the words “ I do”.

Jennifer is the eldest of the three. Being pregnant with her, my first, I researched everything pregnancy related and read nearly every book. Giving birth to Anthony and Matty seemed more natural and less stressful the third time around.

I’m happy to share what knowledge I have gathered and learn new things from other mothers. From morning sickness to Anencephaly, or potty training to thumb sucking, I have books and resource guides to share.