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Caffeine and Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Learn about the effects caffeine can have during pregnancy


Once you get a positive pregnancy test, it’s likely that you will start trying to think about those lifestyle changes you may need to make.   At the top of the list of things that you know you need to be more aware of, may be the food you eat or drink. Sometimes it can feel as if you have to give up everything that’s “normal” during this time- combine that with the surge of hormones and extra aches and pains, hearing this news can cause some major frustration. 

So, if Starbucks is part of your morning routine, and you aren’t sure how you will be able to make it without that cup of coffee - you might be wondering if you REALLY have to give up caffeine during pregnancy. We’ll take a closer look at what the risks of caffeine consumption are, and how much is considered to be safe during pregnancy.  

Is Caffeine Safe During Pregnancy?

While the studies on caffeine consumption during pregnancy are far from conclusive - there are a few things we know about caffeine.  For starters, we know that caffeine does cross the placenta, enters the amniotic fluid, and your baby’s bloodstream when consumed by the mother during pregnancy. Caffeine can have some positive side effects, such as improved focus, relief from headaches, and increased energy - all things that most pregnant women will experience at one point or another.  We also know that for adults, experts recommend not consuming caffeine for at least six hours prior to bedtime, so it doesn’t interfere with sleep.

Your baby, in the womb, is still developing and has a much smaller body, so it will take longer for them to process the caffeine than it does adults. It’s not just your baby you need to think of before drinking, caffeine can cause a higher heart rate and raise blood pressure. During pregnancy, it can make it harder for your body to absorb iron- which is essential for preventing anemia. Are you getting tired of having to run to the restroom every few minutes? Another reason not to consume caffeine is it increases the frequency of urination.

Is any caffeine safe during pregnancy? 

Most doctors agree that it’s best to limit caffeine to about 200 mg a day.  However, there are some studies that indicate even low intakes of caffeine (50-149 mg per day) may cause issues like low birth weight, so be aware of that while choosing what to consume that day.  If you are ready and willing to give up caffeine altogether, remember you will have to sacrifice a little more than just coffee. 

What foods and drinks contain caffeine? 

Caffeine is found in tea, soda, chocolate, some over the counter medications, coffee flavored products, and a variety of other beverages. Some of these items have a higher caffeine level. Typically energy drinks and coffee weigh in with the highest amounts, but it’s important to check the labels of the items you are consuming to be sure. Some coffee beverages contain close to 500mg of caffeine, some teas close to 100mg, and some brands of chocolate could contain up to 25mg. 

a range of drinks which might contain caffeine

If you enjoy tea - look for a decaf option, or stick to teas that are made from ginger root, peppermint leaf, or lemon balm. If you aren’t sure, and you can’t clearly tell from the products label how much caffeine it might have, skip it and opt for another option. 

If you are struggling with your daily consumption of caffeine and are afraid it’s too high for your baby - it’s always best to discuss your medical needs with your doctor. Give them an honest look at how much caffeine you consume in a day and let them help you figure out ways to cut back and guide you in how much is safe.  

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