Coffee When Pregnant – What You Need To Know

A little one is growing inside of me… Can you drink coffee when pregnant?

Pregnancy comes with its scare especially because of the little one growing inside you. Some studies are of the opinion that pregnant women shouldn’t drink coffee, while others believe otherwise. Well, we will look at the pros and cons in this article.

Coffee When Pregnant
Photo Credits: FMS Digital PRO, Flickr.com

One mug of coffee does the magic for a lot of people that have added coffee to their daily menu. It refreshes you all day long. Coffee contains a stimulant called caffeine amongst other nutrients and essential oils. 

Caffeine is also found in cola, chocolate, tea, some herbal tea, and energy drinks. Some medicines like painkillers, flu, and cold remedies also contain caffeine.

What is the right amount of coffee good for a pregnant woman? Is it safe for pregnant women to drink coffee? What is its implication on her health and the developing fetus? Let us find out these and more below; keep scrolling.

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here.

Can A Pregnant Woman Drink Coffee?

Sure, you can if it is taken in moderate quantity. Gone are the days when it was generally believed that pregnant women should abstain from coffee and all other drinks or food that has caffeine as one of their constituents. 

Recent research found that when taken in moderation, coffee is safe for pregnant women. You only need to observe some precautionary measures. What quantity of coffee is okay during pregnancy?

The recommended quantity of caffeine to be ingested by pregnant women is 200mg per day. That is about 1 mug of coffee every day. When you regularly have more quantity than the recommended 200mg per day, your risk of having a miscarriage might increase. But this fact is not conclusive. 

However, it is still been advocated to stay within the recommended quantity (200mg per day). This is because studies have shown that caffeine molecules can pass through the placenta membrane to the baby. This can cause complications during pregnancy and put both you and your baby at high risk.

Remember that caffeine is not found in coffee only, it is also found in cola or soda, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and some drugs. So, you need to be mindful of what you consume. 

That involves reducing your consumption of all caffeine-related food and drink and be sure of the caffeine content in them for each serving. This information is usually printed on the label of these products. 

Also, going to coffee shops is not advisable because most of them serve very strong coffee drinks than those brewed at home. Caffeine content varies from one coffee shop to another. 

Do you know that espresso coffee contains caffeine levels ranging from 50-300 milligrams of caffeine per espresso coffee? On the other hand, decaffeinated coffee can contain about 15 milligrams of caffeine depending on the coffee shop.

You can cut down on caffeine intake by getting instant coffee which has a smaller amount of caffeine compared to brewed coffee. Or better still use ½ teaspoon of coffee for each cup, this makes your coffee weaker. Switching to decaf coffee is also good, it tastes almost as good as the regular coffee.

But if you have decided in giving up your mug of coffee altogether throughout your gestation period, replace the fluid deficit with another drink preferably water to balance your water level for maximum homeostasis. 

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Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine is beneficial to the body; the excess is however detrimental. Here are some benefits of caffeine:

i. It stimulates your central nervous system and brain. This helps sharpens your mental alertness and awakens you. 

ii. Some caffeinated beverages contain useful compounds and antioxidants that protect your body cells, prevent incurable diseases and lowers inflammation.

For example, green tea is high in antioxidants, while other coffee and teas have a considerable amount too.

iii. It improves energy focus and levels.

iv. Caffeine in combination with pain relievers is a potent treatment for headaches. For example, Acetaminophen.

How Caffeine Affects a Fetus

Video: Is Caffeine Safe During Pregnancy?

Watch this video to know more about caffeine and its effect on pregnant women.

Although it is still unclear, studies have shown that caffeine molecules can pass through the placenta membrane. The fetus may not be capable of handling caffeine as much as you would. This is because the fetus’s metabolism is still undergoing maturity and so cannot digest caffeine. 

As a result, any quantity of coffee can as well change your baby’s normal movement pattern or sleep pattern before or during your last trimester. Caffeine being a stimulant can keep you and your fetus awake. 

Caffeine consumption above the recommended amount can also increase the risk of premature labor or delivery, babies with low birth weight and other birth defects.

It can also be a predisposing factor in the cause of a miscarriage. These risks are relatively low, and studies are inconclusive, but you still have to be cautious.

A mom who has a regular consumption of caffeine above 200 milligrams during pregnancy, can give birth to a baby with the following symptoms: increased rate of breathing, faster heart rates, and sleeplessness.

How Caffeine Affects a Pregnant Woman

You may have noticed that it does not affect you because of the stimulating effect of caffeine; you may feel energized all day long.

But this might not be the case in all pregnant women. Caffeine is a diuretic and so can increase the frequency of your urination. 

Other side effects of caffeine are abdominal pains, diarrhea, dizziness, restlessness, and high blood pressure. Also, excessive caffeine consumption in pregnancy can impede the absorption of iron in your body.

Consequently increases the risk of anemia. This is when there is iron deficiency in the body. 

As a precaution, avoid having coffee or tea with meals as these drinks contain some substances that may reduce iron levels in your body by inhibiting its absorption from non-meat meals or foods. If your iron levels are low already, you should see your doctor for expert advice. 

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Amount of Caffeine Contained in Different Drinks

Here is a chart to show you the amount of caffeine contained in your favorite drinks. It will guide you in your daily caffeine consumption and help you keep track of what you consume every day. 

Coffee

i. 8 oz brewed coffee is equivalent to 95-165 milligrams.

ii. 8 oz of brewed decaffeinated coffee: 2-5 milligrams.

iii. 1 oz of espresso coffee: 47-64 milligrams.

iv. 1 oz of decaffeinated espresso coffee: 0 milligrams.

v. 8 oz of instant coffee is equivalent to 63 milligrams.

vi. 8 oz of instant decaffeinated coffee: 2 milligrams.

vii. 8 oz of mocha or latte coffee: 63-126 milligrams.

Tea

i. 8 oz of brewed green tea: 25-29 milligrams.

ii. 8 oz of brewed black tea: 25-48 milligrams.

iii. 8 oz of brewed decaffeinated black tea: 2 to 5 milligrams.

Cola and Energy drinks

8 oz energy drink is equivalent to 27-164 milligrams.

8 oz cola or soda: 24-46 milligrams.

1 oz energy shot is equivalent to 40-100 milligrams.

12 oz of Dr. Pepper: 37 milligrams.

32 oz of 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke: 124 milligrams.

32 oz of Big Gulp Coca-Cola: 92 milligrams.

Foods

8 oz of Ben and Jerry’s Buzz Ice Cream: 72 milligrams.

1 oz of Baker’s chocolate: 26 milligrams.

How to Reduce Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy?

For lovers of coffee, it might be difficult to completely cut down on the amount of caffeine consumed daily. Here are tips to make it realizable:

i. Make sure you include all caffeine sources when you want to know your daily consumption. For example, energy drinks, soda, and other coffee-flavored or chocolate-flavored ice creams have a large amount of caffeine in them.

Also, iced Americano, coffee latte, and other sweetened coffee variants have their fair share of caffeine.

iii. You should know what you love the most about your caffeine-related food or drinks by now, get a healthy substitution. Try decaffeinated coffee, tea, and cola (they also taste great). Also, get enough sleep and regular exercise. 

ii. Rather than spending your money buying coffee, buy prenatal vitamins that will maintain your energy and vitality without caffeine intake. Also, you will be saving more money that will be useful for something more productive.

iv. Go for instant coffee rather than brewed coffee, it is usually light compared to the concentrated taste from brewed coffee.

v. Brew your tea for a short period of time. This also reduces the level of caffeine.

vi. Eat healthy foods and include water, fresh fruit juice, milk to your diet daily.

vii. Gradually reduce your caffeine intake. When you stop at once, it affects your body leaving you cranky, exhausted, and drowsy. These are symptoms of caffeine withdrawal syndrome.

Other symptoms include migraine and lack of concentration. Start with half a cup every day, till you are able to minimize your consumption. You will also reduce the caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

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Summary of Food to Be Avoided During Pregnancy

Apart from coffee that contains caffeine, here is a summary of some food or drinks you should avoid when you are pregnant. They are harmful to your health. Here they are:

Energy drinks

It contains caffeine, high amounts of artificial sweeteners or added sugars and ginseng which has been proven to be unsafe for pregnant women. They lack the needed nutritional value you require.

Herbal Tea

There are herbal teas you should not take when pregnant. For example, those made with licorice root or fenugreek and chicory root. Some of them include red raspberry leaf, ginger root, lemon balm, and peppermint leaf.

Conclusion

Moderate consumption of caffeine has been said to improve alertness and energy and it also revitalizes you after a night spent turning and tossing. However, avoiding caffeine is your safest approach. 

It is best you discuss with your healthcare provider for expert advice on the healthiest choice for you and your baby.

The idea of cutting down on another essential part of your food may be disheartening, you must always remember that it won’t be forever. You will be free to have a few cups of your preferred coffee drink soon without any doubt. And when your baby is born, you will need it the most!