Pregnancy and Caffeine

What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is legally a drug. It produces Central Nervous System stimulation. It can raise your blood pressure and cause your heart rate to speed up. It can interfere with your ability to sleep or rest well and can make you feel nervous and jittery. Most of these symptoms are caused by drinking too much caffeine and there are guidelines regarding what is ‘too much,’ however there are no recommended daily allowances because this is not a substance you need in your diet. Also, you have to remember that people react differently to all medications.

Is Caffeine Dangerous in Pregnancy?

It is generally recommended to avoid caffeine altogether during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you drink caffeinated beverages then you would want to greatly decrease you intake and limit it on a daily basis. For instance, drink only one cup of coffee or tea or one soda per day. There are always decaffeinated choices out there too. The latest studies indicate that women who drink two or even three cups of coffee a day are probably not putting their babies at risk. However, the chance of miscarriage does increase slightly in women who have five to six cups of coffee a day. It’s also important to remember that caffeine isn’t just found in coffee. It is also found in soft drinks, coffee yogurt, tea and chocolate.

How Can Caffeine Affect My Child?
Caffeine easily passes from the mother to her unborn child through the placenta. Because the systems for breaking down and eliminating chemicals are not fully developed in the unborn child, blood levels of caffeine may remain elevated for longer periods in the unborn child compared to the mother. Higher amounts of caffeine could affect babies in the same way as it does adults.

Some reports have stated that children born to mothers who consumed more than 500mg/day were more likely to have faster heart rates, tremors, increased breathing rate and spend more time awake in the days following birth. Also, caffeine has a diuretic effect, which results in fluid and calcium being drawn out of your system. This will prevent your child from getting some of the important nutrients and fluids it requires during growth. Further, coffee and tea, especially when taken with cream and sugar, are filling and satisfying but don’t provide you with the nutrients that are required during pregnancy. Caffeine may even prevent the absorption of vital things such as iron. Though mild caffeine consumption probably does not cause any serious birth defects, it is probably best to try and limit your caffeine intake throughout your pregnancy.

Coffee and Miscarriage
A recent study performed in Denmark has found a link between coffee intake during pregnancy and miscarriage. It appears that the more coffee you drink during the early stages of pregnancy, the higher your risk of suffering from a miscarriage becomes. Danish researchers from the University of Aarhus polled over 88,000 women to find out about coffee intake during pregnancy. The majority of these women consumed no coffee during pregnancy, however, those that did reported increased risks of miscarriage. Women who consume more than eight cups of coffee a day appear to be at the highest risk, illustrating a 59% increase in the rate of miscarriage. Researchers are still unsure why coffee appears to affect the risk of miscarriage.

How to Cut Down on Your Caffeine Intake

  • identify your motivation for quitting; by quitting you will be ensuring that your baby will be as healthy as possible
  • find substitutes for your caffeine; for example, switch to decaffeinated coffee or a caffeine-free soft drink.
  • if caffeine provides you with a boost, try exercises and good food, especially complex carbohydrates and protein; other activities you can do include dancing, swimming or making love
  • ease off caffeine gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms; start by cutting down to two cups daily; once you’ve adjusted, gradually reduce a quarter of a cup at a time, down to one cup, and down to none. Another way to ease the adjustment is to switch temporarily to a half-and-half caffeinated-decaffeinated brew during the withdrawal period, gradually decreasing the proportion of caffeinated and increasing the proportion of decaf until you are drinking completely caffeine-free coffee.
  • minimize withdrawal symptoms; caffeine is addictive, and quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headache, irritability, fatigue, and lethargy

    Tips to Help Minimize These Symptoms

  • Keep your energy levels up by keeping your blood sugar levels up. You can achieve this by eating frequent small meals that are rich in protein and complex-carbohydrate foods. Also, taking your pregnancy vitamins will help ensure that your energy levels are optimum
  • Make sure you get some form of exercise everyday
  • Make sure you are well rested and that you get plenty of sleep. Cutting down on your caffeine levels should help you get to sleep easier.

     

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    thesweetchef
    Hi there, I miss my coffees !!! I know it's not healthy for the baby and that caffeine is a drug, but I miss it so much. The closest I found to coffee is a date coffee made from date seeds called dattero. I know it's healthy and I ask for a strong dattero latte. It's probably the best alternatives to coffee for pregnant women. Any suggestions for heartburn?
    3 years ago
    jkt859
    i have been so paranoid about miscarriage and about all of these reports about the dangers of caffeine and pregnancy i have just been avoiding it all together. i really miss my morning cup of coffee but after the first few weeks i started to be able to function without it. but, after i give birth i think a strong cup of coffee is going to be the first thing i want, even over a glass of wine. but, my doctor already said i am at higher risk of miscarriage due to a hormonal condition i have so i decided a cup of coffee in the morning just wasn't worth it if it increased my risk for miscarriage anymore even though doctors say that usually one cup of coffee is ok.
    3 years ago