Caffeine and Pregnancy

Now that you are pregnant, it is important to ensure that both you and your baby stay strong and healthy. Though it may be difficult, this is the time to give up all those bad habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption. It is also a good idea to give up food or beverages that contain caffeine. Though you may be hesitant to give up your morning cup of coffee, caffeine has been associated with a number of prenatal risks. When consumed in high doses, caffeine has even been linked with increased rates of miscarriage.

What is Caffeine?
Though many of us don’t realize it, caffeine is actually a drug, much like nicotine and alcohol. It is also addictive, which is why so many people crave their coffee and cola! Caffeine, also known as guareine and mateine, is a naturally-occurring substance found in a number of plants, beans, and seeds. It acts as a stimulant on our central nervous system, and is absorbed into our bloodstream just 15 minutes after intake. When absorbed in large quantities, caffeine can cause a number of adverse physical reactions.

Your Fertility Can Be Negatively Impacted By Caffeine. Learn How Caffeine Can Hurt Your Pregnancy.

Where is Caffeine Found?
Though most of us associate caffeine with tea and coffee, it is also found in a number of other foods and beverages, including:

  • colas
  • hot chocolate
  • chocolate
  • various nuts

Caffeine is also found in certain medications, particularly those for migraine headaches, and in some dietary supplements.

What are the Effects of Caffeine?
If you notice yourself feeling jittery after you have has a lot of coffee or tea, there’s a good reason for it. Caffeine can cause a number of physical side effects, including:

  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased sweat production

Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. This means that it causes you to lose fluid from your body, which can leave you dehydrated and fatigued. If your body absorbs too much caffeine, it is possible to go into “caffeine overdose,” which causes symptoms of nausea and lightheadedness, as well as respiratory problems.


Effects of Caffeine on Your Baby
Caffeine is thought to pose certain risks during pregnancy. Though researchers debate how much caffeine is acceptable during pregnancy, there is evidence to suggest than any amount will cause some physical effects on your little one. This is because caffeine passes through your placenta and is absorbed by your baby. Adults are able to break down caffeine fairly quickly, thanks to chemicals inside of our body. However, your developing baby can’t do this as efficiently. This means that caffeine will be stored inside of his blood for longer periods of time, and could reach dangerously high levels.

Caffeine also affects other aspects of your baby’s health. It is known to increase your baby’s heart rate and may affect how much he moves in utero. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it can also affect the nutrition your baby receives from you. Caffeine intake may cause you to absorb less iron and calcium from foods, a possible detriment to your baby’s overall fetal development.

Coffee and Miscarriage
Recent studies have focused on the effects of coffee intake during pregnancy. A large-scale Danish study polled more than 80,000 pregnant women regarding their coffee intake. This study found that women who drank large amounts of coffee during pregnancy were more likely to experience a miscarriage. Women who drank more than 2 cups of coffee a day had a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, while those that drank 8 or more cups experienced a 59% increase. This is why it is so important to watch your caffeine intake during pregnancy.

Interestingly, this Danish study found that this considerably greater risk of miscarriage was specific to coffee. Other caffeinated beverages and foods did not present the same significant increase, leading researchers to believe that other chemicals contained in coffee could possibly play a role in causing miscarriage.

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
Most health care providers suggest eliminating all caffeinated foods and beverages from your pregnancy diet. Yet, some pregnant women find this especially difficult, particularly because so many food items contain small amounts of caffeine. If you are finding it hard to eliminate all caffeine from your diet, one caffeinated beverage or food item once in awhile probably won’t make much difference to your baby’s health. However, it is important to realize that caffeine does pose a risk to your little one, especially in large amounts, so work to reduce that caffeine intake.

Tips on Reducing Caffeine Intake
Just as quitting smoking and drinking can be difficult, it can also be hard to eliminate caffeine from your daily diet. After all, caffeine is an addictive drug. Here are some tips on how to reduce your caffeine intake and ensure that you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

  • Cut back on your caffeine intake slowly. Going cold turkey can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms, like headaches and nausea.
  • Try replacing your caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated ones, like decaf coffee.
  • Exercise regularly to help combat any withdrawal symptoms and to stay energized.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will help you manage cravings and fatigue.

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