Caffeine during pregnancy is one of the first questions women ask. “I have to have my coffee.” Although there are studies that differ on whether caffeine is safe during pregnancy or not, there is enough research out there showing that caffeine has concerns for the well-being of your developing baby. The healthiest thing is to avoid caffeine.
Quick notes on caffeine:
Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic. As a stimulant, caffeine increases your blood pressure and heart rate which is not healthy during pregnancy. Additionally, caffeine raises the number of times you go to the bathroom which may lower your body fluid levels and lead to dehydration.
Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby. Your baby is not able to handle the stimulant in the same manner that you can. Your baby’s metabolism is developing and cannot process the caffeine. Remember, caffeine is a stimulant and can keep both you and your baby awake.
Caffeine is in other things too. Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also in tea, soda, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter medications that relieve headaches. Be aware of what you consume.
Fact or Myth?
Myth: Caffeine causes birth defects
Fact: Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, premature birth, lowered chances of conceiving, and increase the risk of low-birth weight offspring and other reproductive problems. No definitive research has been done with humans, but it is better to play it safe when it comes to inconclusive studies.
Myth: Caffeine causes infertility.
Fact: Some studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception.
Myth: Caffeine causes miscarriages.
Fact: A few studies have shown that there may be an increase in miscarriages among women who consume more than 300 mg (three 5 oz cups of coffee) a day. Other outcomes include preterm labor and low-birth weight babies. Again, it is safer to avoid caffeine as much as possible.
Myth: A pregnant woman should not consume ANY caffeine.
Fact: Experts and studies have stated that “moderate” levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. The definition of “moderate” varies anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day.
How much caffeine is in your favorite drinks & snacks?
- Grande Coffee (16 oz) 400 mg
- House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259 mg
- Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
- 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke (32 oz) 124 mg
- 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola (32 oz) 92 mg
- Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream (8 oz) 72 mg
- Baker’s chocolate (1 oz) 26 mg
- Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
- Black tea (8oz) 60 mg
- Excedrin (per capsule) 65mg
How much caffeine is too much?
The less caffeine you drink the better. Some health care providers say more than 150 mg of caffeine a day is too much, while others say more than 300 mg a day is too much. The recommendation is to avoid caffeine altogether if you can; it is the safest thing to do.
Last Updated: 07/2008
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Organization of Teratology Information Services, http://www.otispregnancy.org/
Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8.
March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/
Caffeine and Pregnancy, http://www.americanpregnancy.org