All You Need to Know About Caffeine During Pregnancy
Is it safe for women to consume caffeine during their pregnancy? The general consensus among obstetricians is that pregnant women should stop their caffeine intake during their pregnancy. However, if completely cutting back on caffeine is not possible, they should at least limit their consumption.
The reason why obstetricians advise against taking in caffeine during pregnancy lies in the nature of caffeine itself. Caffeine is a stimulant; when consumed, it triggers the nervous system to go on alert mode. It also causes the heart to beat much faster as well as raises the blood pressure. Caffeine also induces the stomach to secrete more acid.
It takes around ten hours for a person to metabolize caffeine. However, babies still in their mother’s womb are yet to develop fully their ability to metabolize, and so caffeine can stay in their system for a longer period, enough to cause some damage.
Possible Effects of Caffeine on Pregnancy
Caffeine intake during pregnancy can pose harmful effects to both the mother and her baby. On the part of the mother, caffeine can over-stimulate her nervous system, causing her to feel jittery. This may make her unable to sleep properly, and sleep is something that she should have enough of for her baby to develop healthily.
Another one of the effects caffeine may bring during pregnancy is heartburn. As mentioned above, caffeine causes the stomach to produce more acid. Caffeine also robs the mother of her ability to absorb nutrients such as calcium and iron more properly. Calcium and iron are two nutrients that are essential to a baby’s development.
On the part of the baby, studies have shown that mothers who do not regulate their caffeine intake during their pregnancy are highly prone to miscarriage. This likelihood is twice that of mothers who do not consume caffeine at all. It is possible for mothers with high caffeine intake during pregnancy to deliver stillborn or underweight babies.
How Much Caffeine is Safe during Pregnancy?
While pregnant women are advised against consuming caffeine during pregnancy, they can still have some as long as they limit their consumption. Obstetricians deem that caffeine intake during pregnancy should be no more than 200mg of caffeine per day.
Monitoring caffeine intake during pregnancy can be tricky. Coffee and tea are not the only beverages out there that have caffeine in them. Other foodstuffs like chocolates and pop sodas also contain caffeine. Also, the amount of caffeine in a type of food or beverage varies according to the way it is prepared.
Here is a rough estimation of the amount of caffeine that popular foodstuffs contain.
• 8 oz brewed coffee – 137mg
• 8 oz instant coffee – 76mg
• 8 oz brewed tea – 48mg
• 8 oz instant tea (Lipton) – 10mg
• 8 oz instant tea (Nestea) – 26mg
• 12 oz caffeinated drinks (Coca-Cola, Pepsi) – 37mg
• 8 oz chocolate milk – 8mg
• 1 bar dark chocolate – 30mg
• 1 bar milk chocolate – 11mg
• ¼ cup chocolate chips – 28mg
• ½ cup coffee-flavored ice cream or frozen yogurt – 2mg
Caffeine and Breastfeeding
Caffeine intake during breastfeeding is not as stringently advised against as it is during pregnancy. However, because the baby’s body is still developing at this period, breastfeeding mothers are nonetheless encouraged to limit their caffeine consumption while breastfeeding.
As tricky as monitoring caffeine intake during both pregnancy and while breastfeeding, it is possible to check caffeine content in one’s food and drinks. Tests for caffeine are available in the market, and one can easily use these to test for caffeine in their food and beverages.