Coffee during pregnancy has long been hailed as a big NO. While it does have the potential to cause harm to the mother and baby, recent studies show that pregnant women may not need to give it up entirely – only limit it to a certain amount.
So, how much coffee during pregnancy is okay?
Well, studies show that 200 mg of caffeine a day is safe for pregnant women. 200 mg equals to two cups of instant coffee, considering one mug of coffee generally contains 100 mg caffeine.
However, a word of caution from an experienced gynecologist: there can be discrepancies in the actual amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee made at different breweries or outlets. Further, coffee is not the only source of caffeine that may find its way in a pregnant woman’s diet, as we will learn in this article.
How coffee affects the mother’s body
- Troubled sleep – Caffeine in the coffee acts as a natural stimulant, which means that it keeps a person awake.
- Heart effects – The stimulating effect of caffeine raises blood pressure and increases heart rate through its vasoconstriction. Both these factors must be kept under control during pregnancy.
- Diuretic effect – Caffeine is a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine made in the body. This not only increases the frequency of urination but also can lead to dehydration as the amount of body fluid is lowered.
- Other effects – Caffeine can also cause digestive issues and makes a person jittery.
Pregnant women are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine since it stays in their system for longer periods.
How coffee affects the growing baby
Despite the effects of caffeine on pregnant women, coffee can still be metabolized by their adult bodies. This is, however, not the case for the baby growing inside her womb. The baby is yet to develop a fully functional metabolism and its body cannot handle the caffeine that reaches him/her through the placenta. Caffeine affects the baby’s cells, tissues and membranes directly and may impair development.
Yes, caffeine can cross the placenta. The vaso-constrictive effect of caffeine may also reduce the blood flow through the placenta, a critical passageway for transferring oxygen and nutrients to the baby. The stimulant effect of caffeine can affect the baby as well, disturbing his/her sleep pattern. Excess caffeine intake by the mother can also lead to miscarriage, though more studies are required to confirm this. Other effects may include birth defects, low birth weight, and impaired neurological development.
Caffeine is NOT limited to coffee
Other than coffee, the following products also contain caffeine:
- Products with coffee flavor like ice-cream and yogurt
- Soda drinks
- Chocolates, cocoa, chocolate syrup
- Certain medications
- Herbal products
- Energy drinks
It is important to note that the amount of caffeine in these items can vary depending on the brand, method of preparation and the type of coffee used. Pregnant women must read the food labels of products carefully to know their caffeine content. Else, it is easy to cross the daily safe limit of 200 mg of caffeine unknowingly.
Medicines with caffeine
Certain medicines like those for treating colds, pain and migraines often contain caffeine. Pregnant women must consult their doctor before taking any medicine, both prescribed and over-the-counter ones.
This write-up was contributed by Credihealth content team:
Credihealth is a medical assistance company that gives guidance to a patient from the first consultation through the entire hospitalization process. A team of in-house Credihealth doctors helps the patient find the right doctor, book appointment, request cost estimate for procedures and manage admission & discharge processes.
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