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Is It Safe To Consume Caffeine During Pregnancy?

Is It Safe To Consume Caffeine During Pregnancy?

Every morning, when you wake up, one of the first things that you want to have is a steaming cup of coffee. A cup of joe can set the tone of the day right and instantly energise you. In fact, if you are someone who relies on two to three cups of coffee to power you through the day, the thought of giving it up during pregnancy can seem quite dreadful.

Coffee contains caffeine, which keeps you alert and active during long days at work or at home. While caffeine positively affects some people’s energy levels, it is advised to limit or avoid the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages when you are pregnant. But don’t worry, the good news is that you don’t have to completely cut down on caffeine during pregnancy. As long as you have your doctor’s go-ahead and you are taking certain precautions, you can safely consume coffee in limited amounts every day. 

How Much Caffeine Can You Have In A Day During Pregnancy?

Experts recommend drinking only about 200mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy

A study conducted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) suggests that pregnant women can consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day, which equals less than a full cup of coffee. To be precise, you can drink one-and-a-half mugs of filtered coffee or two cups of instant coffee every day to satiate your caffeine cravings. 

What Happens When You Consume Too Much Caffeine During Pregnancy?

Excess caffeine consumption can affect the health of the mum and baby, and in some cases cause pregnancy complications

When you are pregnant, your body can tolerate small to moderate amounts of caffeine every day. However, excess caffeine consumption can have adverse side effects on you and the baby. 

Effects Of Caffeine On Pregnant Women

  • Caffeine is a diuretic that increases the frequency of urination, thereby removing water from the body, and making you dehydrated. 
  • It is a stimulant, and too much caffeine can increase your blood pressure and heart, causing anxiety, insomnia, and other sleep problems. 
  • Regular caffeine consumption can make you addicted to it. When you stop consuming it abruptly, you are likely to have withdrawal symptoms like headache, irritability, and fatigue.

Effects Of Caffeine On The Baby

Caffeine can also cross the placenta and affect the developing organs in the foetus. It also:

  • Stimulates the heart rate of the foetus, leading to sleep disturbances and irregular heartbeat. 
  • It stimulates the baby, keeping it active for a long time. 
  • It affects the baby’s sleep pattern and other normal movements, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
  • Continuous consumption of caffeine throughout pregnancy can build up caffeine reserves in the foetal body. This could cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth, and lead to symptoms like jitteriness, irritability, and vomiting. 

Other Side Effects Of Caffeine On Pregnancy

Apart from adversely affecting the health of the mum and the baby, excess caffeine consumption could lead to the following pregnancy complications:

  • Miscarriage: Some studies have determined that there is a link between caffeine and miscarriage. In one analysis by the National Library of Medicine, the findings concluded that caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage. While another study conducted by the ACOG showed that the risk of miscarriage is greater when pregnant women consume over 200mg of caffeine per day. 
  • Preterm labour: Some people believe that excess caffeine consumption can increase the possibility of premature labour. However, there aren’t sufficient analyses that support the association between caffeine and preterm delivery.
  • Low birth weight in babies: Caffeine intake of more than the recommended amount can lead to foetal growth restriction and low birth weight in babies. 

Safe Alternatives To Coffee During Pregnancy

Refreshing drinks such as lemonade is a safe alternative to coffee during pregnancy

Since moderate consumption of caffeine doesn’t cause any harm to the mum and baby, we recommend you switch your large cup of joe with a small one. But if you are still concerned about its effects, and want to give up caffeine, you can try the following safe and less-caffeinated alternatives to refresh you.

  • Decaf coffee: The caffeine content is substantially low in decaf coffee. You can safely consume a large cup of it when you are pregnant.
  • Instant coffee: Instead of drinking filtered coffee, opt for instant coffee. Half a teaspoon of instant coffee with milk is a much safer option than filtered coffee.
  • Green tea: Green tea and herbal teas have low caffeine content. They are barely brewed and are your safest bet when you need an energy-boosting drink during pregnancy. 
  • Lemonade: This refreshing drink is caffeine-free, good for digestion, heart health, and skin, and it quenches your thirst instantly.
  • Yogurt, lassi, or buttermilk: These non-caffeinated beverages are some of the must-haves during pregnancy to replenish your body and energise you, especially on hot summer days.
  • Coconut water: Another refreshing drink, coconut water aids in digestion, improves immunity and also gives you a much-needed energy boost.
  • Kokum juice: This drink is rich in antioxidants, improves appetite, and also reduces morning sickness symptoms like nausea.

Your must-have energy-boosting cup of coffee, that otherwise helps you stay active and power through the day might not be beneficial for your baby. Therefore, you must exercise caution while consuming caffeine during pregnancy. Stick to drinking half a cup of coffee per day and consider switching to healthier alternatives like decaf coffee, coconut water, green tea, and lemonade. 

02 Jun 2022

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