How Much Caffine Can I Have During Pregnancy?
There are millions of Americans who insist that they start their day with a cup or two of coffee. A sizable number of these folks are pregnant women who need to monitor everything that they put into their body. With that thought in mind, they should understand that the caffeine in coffee can have several effects on the developing fetus that may go unnoticed by the mother. Here are a few of the more notable ones:
- Caffeine is a stimulant – By and large, adult coffee drinkers enjoy the effect of caffeine in their body. The same is not necessarily true for the much smaller fetus. Even a minimal amount of caffeine will cross into the placenta and stimulate the baby far more than the mother. In particular, caffeine is likely to changes the baby’s sleep pattern and to keep both the mother and the baby awake at unintended times.
- Caffeine is a diuretic – While many expectant mothers might expect a cup of coffee to increase the level of hydration in their body, the caffeine acts as a diuretic and actually causes an increase in the number and volume of urination. This metabolic increase can then lead to dehydration which is not desirable for the developing fetus.
- Caffeine crosses the placenta – Caffeine is a relatively small molecule and easily crosses into the placenta and the baby’s body. Unfortunately, the metabolism of the developing fetus is not mature enough to break down the caffeine and it remains for far longer than in the adult. The result? Normal movement of the fetus is affected for far longer than the mother usually realizes.
- Caffeine is found in more than just coffee – It is quite easy for an expectant mother to unknowingly increase their caffeine intake. Caffeine is found in most teas – the herbal ones are a notable exception – chocolate, protein bars, most candy, some ice creams and even some over-the-counter medicines. “Decaf” coffee is also not completely free of caffeine with cups available at name brand shops – you know the ones – containing up to 35 mg of the stimulant.
- Caffeine may cause miscarriages – While the case has not been definitively proved, some clinical studies – most notably one released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology – found that women who consumed more than 200 mgs of caffeine were twice as likely to undergo a miscarriage than those who did not. Other studies have concluded that there is no effect but in this case, it is better to err on the side of caution.
The bottom line is that expectant mothers should limit the amount of caffeine they introduce into their bodies. Experts suggest that at most 300 mg – the amount contained in a single 12 oz. cup of coffee – is safe. It should also be noted that new mothers who plan to breastfeed should also limit their intake of caffeine. For more information on how caffeine and drugs can affect the course of your pregnancy, please contact us at Your First Look Women’s Center. We can be found online at YourFirstLook.org or reached directly at 567.455.1101.