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.
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.