Caffeine has been a vital part of our universal culture for many years now. Whether it is the early morning cuppa of the mid-day tea that helps you wash the sluggishness, caffeine consumption is fairly common and many women have their minds and bodies tuned with it. This stimulant has been mostly loved by everyone. However, now that you are expecting you have to ease or reduce the regular intake of certain delights and drinks which contain higher level of caffeine in it.
Effects Of Caffeine During Pregnancy
Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic – it stimulates heart and metabolic rate, increases blood pressure, also keeps you attentive and therefore in similar way it affects your unborn child since it can get passed through the placenta to your baby. High caffeine is not good for an unborn child, if consumed more than recommended there might be a risk of miscarriage or your child may be born under weight. More consumption of it may even cause certain changes in babies sleeping and movement pattern in second or third trimester of pregnancy. Many studies have linked over-consumption of caffeine with miscarriages, and a Denmark study has found that women who consumed 8 or more cups of coffee are twice likely to have a stillbirth from women who had none.
Caffeine also causes you to urinate more, and since pregnancy itself increases the frequency of urine, caffeine can just make the condition worse. If had before going to bed, you will need to get up to urinate many times during the night – and it can also cause dehydration.
Some Other Harmful Effects Of Caffeine are
Cause infertility in women – it is a good idea to restrict your caffeine intake when you are trying to get pregnant
Increase the chances of a miscarriage – twice as likely as women who do not have caffeine
Cause birth defects and preterm births – though no formal research has been done yet
Increases the risk of low birth weight offspring
How Caffeine During Pregnancy Affects The Baby?
Since it is a stimulant, consuming it beyond the recommended level can keep you and your baby both alert and awake, which can in turn make you both uncomfortable. Although, experts suggest completely, yet, it won’t harm if you are having 1 or 2 mugs a day (i.e. nearly 200 mg/day) which is within the recommended limit. Caffeine does not get broken up easily by a sluggish digestive system, which is likely to be the case as your pregnancy progresses, and thus ends up staying in the blood stream longer than when you were not pregnant. This means caffeine is more difficult to be broken down by the body when you are in the third trimester of pregnancy. Your baby cannot process the caffeine either, but because it stays in the bloodstream, it ends up crossing the placenta. The baby can feel uncomfortable, and this is again a reason lactating or breastfeeding mothers are also advised to limit the caffeine intake. (Read more about Caffeine and Breastfeeding here. Some research has also shown that babies that are born to mothers who had more than 500 mg of caffeine had faster heart rate and an increased rate in breathing too. It is also seen that these children were spending more time awake in the initial days. Caffeine has also been linked to colic in babies.
Being a diuretic, it makes you run to the bathroom more and more, as it pulls all the fluids and calcium from your body – which also means the baby gets deprived of the same. With nutritional value being nil, caffeine disrupts your sleep schedule, and keeps you getting those mood swings more often, besides decreasing the iron absorption rates of the body as well.
Which Foods Contain Caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally found substance. It can be found in coffee, soft drinks, some teas, chocolates, energy drinks, chocolate flavored ice-cream or yogurts, the energy drinks, and some desserts etc. Certain tablets that cure cold and flu and headache, breath fresheners, pain killers also contain some amount of caffeine. Some seeds, such as sunflower seeds, are also infused with caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Is Safe During Pregnancy?
Most experts agree that caffeine intake should be limited to 200 milligrams per day, which is about one to two cups of coffee. Though there is no hard evidence supporting the same, yet this amount seems to draw a general agreement. Below are some frequently consumed beverages with their caffeine content:
8 oz Coffee Generic Brewed
8 oz Coffee Generic Decaffeinated
12 oz Coke
8.3 oz Redbull
1 oz Dark Chocolate
8 oz Chocolate Milk
How Can I Cut On Caffeine Now That I Am Expecting?
It is not easy to stop it completely if you are a keen coffee or tea addict, hence you will have to cut caffeine in a gradual process. While for some women morning sickness does the trick, for others food aversions to things they like to eat or drink does help. Never try to go off caffeine in a jiffy if you are habitual, this will only give you headaches, irritability and leave you cranky and sore.
Switch to instant from brewed
Try decaffeinated versions
Do not dip your teabag for long, as it would help to reduce the caffeine content
Use more milk less coffee
Try herbal teas, but make sure to check the labels first
Snack up on foods that give similar energy kicks – like a slice of cheese on a cracker
Remind yourself and remember why you are doing this – you will not need another reason
Whenever you have coffee outside at any outlet, do not forget the content of caffeine is extremely high in espressos, lattes and cappuccino, hence by merely having one cup could possibly reach your daily limit. Not all herbal teas are caffeine free; they contain other herbs and condiments that may be harmful in pregnancy therefore it is better to consult your doctor before you try something new.
It would be rather safe to avoid caffeine as much as possible. Milk, water and fresh fruit juices are beneficial substitutes. The healthiest choice you could make for you and your baby is by consuming less caffeine!