To Caffeine or Not to Caffeine?

To Caffeine or Not to Caffeine?

Caffeine is the engine that keeps many of us going day-to-day. After becoming pregnant, you may be wondering if consuming your favorite morning fuel is still permissible. Before diving into allowable caffeine consumption during pregnancy, let’s first define what caffeine is. Caffeine is a naturally occurring bitter substance that is found in more than 60 plants and acts as a stimulant and diuretic.1

Although numerous animal studies have been conducted on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy that illustrate reduced fertility as well as an increase in birth defects, premature labor, preterm delivery, and risk of low-birth weight offspring, human studies have been inconclusive.2 Because there are conflicting findings on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy in humans, and because caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby, it is best to limit caffeine during pregnancy.2,3 The accepted amount of caffeine consumption during pregnancy, as defined by March of Dimes, is 200 mg/day.3 You may be calculating how many cups of coffee that gives you a day; 200 mg is equal to one 12-ounce cup of coffee.3

Because caffeine is a stimulant, after consumption your heart rate and blood pressure will slightly increase and you will get that wondrous energy boost.3 Caffeine also increases urine production, allowing for excretion of extra water and salt, hence why caffeine is classified as a diuretic.1,3 Peak blood caffeine levels are reached about one hour after consumption but may be felt 4-6 hours after ingestion.1 During pregnancy you may feel more jittery after ingesting caffeine than normal. This is because when you are pregnant it may take longer to metabolize caffeine than during those pre-pregnancy days.3

Besides the well-known coffee and tea, where is caffeine found?

  • Kola nuts- used to flavor soft drink colas1
  • Cacao pods- used to make chocolate products1
  • Certain medications, especially for migraines, such as Excedrin2

It is important to adequately monitor caffeine consumption during pregnancy to help establish a healthy pregnancy. Although 200 mg/day seems to be the accepted amount, limiting caffeine as much as possible is the safest route to take. All good things in moderation!

*It is important to check with your healthcare provider before consuming caffeine to make sure it is safe for your pregnancy.

References: 1. Medicine Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Caffeine. Reviewed August 15, 2018. Last updated March 1, 2018. 2. American Pregnancy Association. Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy. Reviewed August 15, 2018. Last updated December 12, 2017. 3. March of Dimes. Caffeine in Pregnancy. Reviewed August 15, 2018. Last updated: October 2015.

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