IS IT SAFE TO DRINK COFFEE OR CAFFEINE WHILE PREGNANT?
When women come to know that they are expecting a baby, they restrict their diet and leave almost everything that is hazardous to the baby. Caffeine is one of these things that doctors forbid you to take. Women don’t drink coffee in their pregnancy period and they think that caffeine is completely out of their diet.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Many other food items and drinks other than coffee also contain caffeine such as the tea, cola, soda, chocolate and certain medicines used to cure flu, cold, headache and allergy also contain caffeine. Here, the questions like how can caffeine affect the body? and how much amount is safe to use? are worth an answer. So, let’s shed some light on these issues.
Why is Caffeine Bad for Pregnancy?
Caffeine is fatal to you and your baby in many ways. If taken more than a certain amount, it can lead to serious consequences. That is why it is strictly forbidden to take in the diet. Some of its effects are as follows:
Effects on the Mother’s Body:
Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic, so it is likely to increase the risk of increasing blood pressure and heart rate, urination becomes frequent leading to dehydration and sometimes, it can also cause diarrhea as it also increases the levels of HCl in the stomach. If you take caffeine with your meals, it will reduce the amount of iron absorbed from your meal due to certain chemicals present in it.
Effects on the Fetus:
Caffeine is reported to cross the placenta and enter into amniotic fluid and fetal blood. Traces of caffeine are found in fetal blood samples whose mother took high amounts of caffeine during pregnancy period. This often leads to the damaged liver because of indigestion as the liver is still maturing and cannot digest caffeine.
Caffeine in the blood can also increase the heart rate of the fetus leading to Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and changed movement patterns. When the baby is born, her biological clock is already disturbed and thus, she stays awake for long periods of time. In some cases, the symptoms of drug addicts are also observed in newly born babies due to caffeine.
In animals, caffeine is seen to cause premature labor and preterm delivery. However, it is not tested in humans until now. Caffeine is also said to reduce fertility in women and the birth of underweight offspring. These facts are not accurately proven but it is better safe than being sorry.
It is tested that the risk of miscarriage is twice in the women taking more than 200mg of caffeine daily than the women avoiding caffeine completely or having a moderate amount. Thus, it is better to avoid it for your baby’s and your own health.
How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Pregnant?
Despite all the dangerous effects of caffeine during pregnancy, it is not harmful when taken in moderate amounts. So, it’s a good news for mothers who love coffee that they can still drink caffeine while pregnant but of course in low amounts as prescribed safely by your pediatrician.
Normally, the moderate amount is defined as less than 200mg per day or a 12 oz cup. You can also use decaff drinks which are similar in taste to caffeinated drinks but contain fewer amounts of caffeine. Energy drinks are strictly prohibited as they contain other harmful chemicals other than caffeine. Here are the average amounts of caffeine in the foods and drinks other than tea and coffee:
- A can of Cola contains 40mg of caffeine
- A can of Energy Drink contains 80mg of caffeine
- A small bar of plain chocolate contains 25mg and that of milk chocolate contains 10mg of caffeine
- A can of Dr. Pepper contains 37mg caffeine
- A can of Coke contains 92mg caffeine
- Latte contains 63 to 126mg of caffeine
- Ice cream serving companies add 10 to 45mg of caffeine per 4 ounces serving but the content is different for different ice cream manufacturing companies
- One capsule of Excedrin Migraine has 130mg of caffeine content
As the caffeine content varies from type to type, so it is best to take your doctor’s advice about your diet and better to ask him to provide you with a diet plan.
Can You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?
Caffeine content in coffee depends upon the type of beans used, how long they were roasted and how it was brewed. Rich, dark and roasted coffee is less caffeinated as caffeine burns off when the beans are roasted well. So, yes you won’t be completely deprived of your favorite coffee. Decrease the amount and you will be just fine. Caffeine content in some of the coffee types is as follows:
- Instant coffee = 63mg
- French Press = 107mg
- Drip brewed = 95mg
- Espresso = 64mg (single)
- Cold Brew = 159mg
- Cappuccino = 77mg (single)
- Decaff coffee = 3 mg
If you take decaffeinated coffee, you will be able to drink more coffee than a caffeinated one. Avoid coffee with the large caffeine content as they may pass the moderate level, for example, you won’t have any idea and a large, strong cappuccino will take you over the limit.
Can You Drink Tea While Pregnant?
Tea is usually less caffeinated than coffee and many types of tea even support the pregnancy. So, you can drink tea more frequently than coffee. However, some tea leaves are also harmful due to certain reasons. Amount of caffeine varies in different types of tea on the basis of how long you drink them or where do they come from. For instance, following types of tea contain different amounts of caffeine in them:
- Black Tea = 40 to 100mg (as per manufacturer)
- Green Tea = 30mg
- Iced Tea = 47mg
- White Tea = 45mg
- Matcha = 70mg
- Tea obtained from powdered tea leaves (instead of infused leaves) contains 70mg of caffeine which is more than an average espresso (64mg).
Moreover, it also differs on the basis of manufacturers. Such as Lipton Green Tea has 16mg of caffeine while Stash tea contains 30mg of caffeine per serving.
Herbal tea is non-caffeinated but some herbals contain a few harmful substances that may affect your body, e.g. pennyroyal tea causes miscarriage and chamomile tea contains anti-inflammatory properties which do not suit some women. So, it is best to take your doctor’s permission before the use of any kind of food or drink.
Safe to Drink Tea Types:
Some types of tea help you and your baby to nourish properly and stay healthy. Here are some of the examples:
- Peppermint Tea will relieve you from the heartburn as it is helpful to ease digestive problems because you cannot usually use the medicines due to risk factors.
- Ginger tea is so far the best treatment for nausea and vomiting that is related to the morning sickness.
- Red Raspberry Tea helps your body to prepare for labor by preparing your uterus (similar function to progesterone)
- Rooibos Tea contains Calcium, certain antioxidants, and nutrients which support the fetus in its development.
Tips to Completely Avoid Caffeine:
If you drink too much caffeine, your doctor will tell you to leave it completely. It is often difficult because your body is addicted to that certain amount and, not receiving that quantity, the body will not function properly. As a result, you will suffer from a headache, fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, and difficulty in concentration. Thus, you don’t have to cut it out completely. Instead, you can take the following tips to help you reduce the volume or refrain from drinking it:
- Brew your tea or coffee for short time, that is, steep the tea bags for one minute instead of the usual five minutes.
- Drink instant coffee instead of brewed coffee as its caffeine content is a little less than brewed one.
- You can make instant coffee even weaker by adding the only half teaspoon of coffee if the taste does not concern you much.
- Decaff tea, coffee, and cola are also available in the market with similar taste to caffeinated ones.
- If you are a coffee lover, then your withdrawal will become even more difficult. So, it’s better to reduce the amount instead of cutting it off completely. Gradually, decrease the quantity from one mug to quarter to half and then, you will be able to leave it fully.
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