Pregnancy is that phase of life which brings you tons of happiness and at the same time a little bit of worry regarding caring for your baby in the womb. There are various food items and beverages that have to be avoided during pregnancy, and among them one is caffeine. Though caffeine is loved by most people, but during pregnancy, it must be avoided as it can have a negative impact on your baby.
You might have read various articles regarding pregnancy food tips and would have noticed that caffeine has to be avoided during pregnancy. So in this article, I am going to discuss specifically related to caffeine and why caffeine is not good for pregnant or why it should be avoided when you are expecting a baby.
Which food & drinks contain caffeine?
Caffeine is present naturally in some food items like:
- Hot Cocoa
- Breakfast Cereal
- Drinking soda
- Energy drinks
- Coffee liqueur
- Chocolate cake with frosting
- Flu and cold remedies
- Headache Medicines
How much quantity of caffeine is present in the food items?
To prevent the intake of caffeine in large amounts, always check the quantity of it on the packaging or below the container. The caffeine quantity in some food items are mentioned below.
- A cup of instant coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine.
- A cup of filter coffee contains 140 mg of caffeine.
- A cup of tea contains 75 mg of caffeine.
- A single soda can contain 40 mg of caffeine.
- A single can of energy drink (250 ml) may contain caffeine up to 80 mg, whereas the larger cans may contain up to 160 mg.
- A bar of milk chocolate (50 g) contains less than 10 mg of caffeine.
- A bar of plain chocolate (50 g) contains less than 25 mg of caffeine.
The amount of caffeine in the food items depends on various factors like:
- How it’s being prepared
- The way it’s served, for example as espresso or latte
- Types of beans used
- Size of the cup, as all cups are not of the same size, so the caffeine intake can vary.
Why caffeine is not good for pregnant?
Caffeine is a stimulant that boosts the energy levels and stimulates your brain and central nervous system, but when it comes to pregnancy, it has some potential risks.
Caffeine is metabolized by the pregnant women very slowly, and so it may take around 1.5 – 3.5 times more time to eliminate it from the body. Also, it can enter your baby’s bloodstream by crossing the placenta, which can harm your baby’s health. Even if you try to control the caffeine intake, but your baby’s metabolism is developing and so can’t fully metabolize the caffeine.
The timing duration of pregnancy does matter, which means early pregnancy caffeine has a greater effect than that in the second or third trimester.
Potential risks of caffeine intake in early pregnancy
- Caffeine can make changes in your baby’s sleep pattern and may also change the normal movement patterns in the later stage of the pregnancy.
- Intake of caffeine in large amounts may also lead to miscarriage, low birth weight and might even make it difficult for the women to conceive.
- As caffeine is a stimulant, so it may increase the chances of blood pressure and heart failure, which is a kind of risk during pregnancy.
- Caffeine causes frequent urination, which might reduce the amount of water and cause dehydration.
- Caffeine can make you feel hyper or might cause indigestion problem.
- As per one study, people who intake more caffeine are prone to gout attacks.
- The women who intake more than 200 mg of caffeine per day has 1.5- fold chance of developing fibrocystic breast disease whereas those women who consumed more than 500 mg of caffeine each day developed 2.3- fold increase in developing cysts in the breast.
- Intake of caffeine in a larger amount can cause incontinence.
- Though caffeine can reduce headaches, intake of it in a more considerable amount can cause you a headache, which may lead to migraines.
- Consuming caffeine in large amounts can reduce the chances of women to become pregnant by 26%.
- Caffeine is not suitable for people who have type 2 diabetes.
- Overdose of caffeine can lead to adverse side effects and, in the rare case, may cause death to people who are having medical conditions and may have lower levels of caffeine tolerance as compared to others.
- People who are allergic to even a small amount of caffeine can have adverse effects on the body, which can cause them hives or pain.
- As per the recent studies, when the energy drink is consumed, so soon after drinking it, the heart produces more contractions. It is still not clear if it will have a negative impact on those with known medical conditions.
- An increase in caffeine consumption can cause depression and anxiety.
- As per the study, if women with menopause consume caffeine, then there are higher chances of vasomotor symptoms.
- Increased consumption of energy drinks containing caffeine in large amounts can cause diabetes and obesity.
- Heavy caffeine consumption can inhibit the production of collagen in the skin.
How to reduce the intake of caffeine in daily life while pregnant?
Though coffee is beneficial to many people, early pregnancy caffeine must be limited to a certain extent to improve the health of your child in the later age of development. So if you are planning to reduce the coffee intake then here are some of the tips:
- Drink plenty of water and sometimes fruit juice when you want to refresh yourself.
- Try decaffeinated tea or coffee instead of the regular caffeinated as it contains a very less amount of caffeine and so can lower the risk of miscarriage.
- You can also trick your mind by putting more milk and less coffee in a mug which will give you the feel of coffee but will be less harmful during pregnancy or if you prefer tea, then you can leave the tea bag for 1 minute instead of 5 minutes in a cup as this reduces the intake of caffeine.
- You can also opt for herbal teas as they don’t contain much caffeine, but make sure you go through the ingredients as some herb may not be safe during the pregnancy.
How much amount of caffeine can be consumed during pregnancy?
Now you might have known why caffeine is not good for pregnant, but let me tell you that if you are a coffee lover, then you can consume a limited amount of caffeine per day.
The ACOG recommends less than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which includes caffeine from tea, coffee, chocolate, and many other food items. Make sure that the caffeine you consume from various food items does not cross the limit of 200 mg and also beware of the sweeteners that you would like to add, as these may also have effects on your pregnancy.
The amount of caffeine consumption also depends on the size of the cup and the brewing time. So always measure the cup in ounces so that you don’t cross the daily limit of coffee consumption.
Many of you might be thinking that the darker the roast, the less caffeine it contains. But this is not completely right, as the lighter roast contains slightly more caffeine than the darker roast.
Infact the type of coffee beans that you brew makes a difference. There are three types of coffee beans named Arabica, Robusta, and Colombian beans. Out of these three, Robusta and Arabica are the most commonly used coffee beans. Robusta beans contain twice the amount of caffeine content than Arabica beans. On the other side, Colombian beans also contain a high amount of caffeine but are not widely used by people around the world.
As a rule of thumb, an expecting mother must consume only 10 ounces of brewed or dripped coffee per day or one or two shots of espresso.
I would suggest drinking latte coffee during pregnancy, as it gives you more liquid to sip on, but the intake of caffeine is less. Also, using milk in latte coffee can provide calcium and protein to your body, which will help in the growth of your baby.
You can also opt for non-dairy milk alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, goat’s milk, soy milk, and oat milk. Even these can be beneficial by providing vitamins and essential nutrients to your diet during your pregnancy if you are allergic to dairy milk.
Is decaffeinated coffee safe during pregnancy?
You may be thinking that the decaffeinated coffee doesn’t contain any caffeine, but this is not true as it contains very less amount of caffeine in it, which is between 2 mg – 12 mg.
The amount of caffeine in decaf coffee depends on the types of beans used and the process of decaffeination.
The decaf coffee beans are usually made by one of the three methods, like using water, carbon dioxide, or organic solvents, to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. All these methods steam the unroasted green coffee beans till all the caffeine is dissolved or till pores of the seeds are opened, and then later from these pores, the caffeine is extracted.
Before consuming the decaffeinated coffee, make sure that the ingredients are safe in it as some products contain methylene chloride, which is required in the process of decaffeinate.
There are fifteen products that haven’t detected methyl chloride in it and are considered safe for pregnant women, and they are:
- Allegro Coffee Decaffeinated Organic French Roast
- Caribou Coffee Decaffeinated Caribou Blend
- Community Coffee Decaffeinated Café Special
- Archer Farms Decaffeinated House Blend
- Dunkin’ Donuts Decaffeinated Medium Roast
- Folgers Decaffeinated Classic
- Nescafe Decaffeinated House Blend
- Illy Decaffeinated Illy Blend
- Kicking Horse Coffee Decaffeinated Dark
- The Organic Coffee Co. Decaffeinated Organic Gorilla
- Peet’s Coffee Decaffeinated
- Starbucks Decaffeinated Cafe Verona
- Starbucks Decaffeinated House Blend
- Tim Hortons Decaffeinated Medium Roast
- DAZBOG Coffee Decaffeinated French Roast (12 oz)
- Major Dickason’s Blend
The below four products have detected methyl chloride in it, and so are advised not to consume these products during pregnancy as the toxic chemicals in it can cause harm to your baby.
- Kirkland Signature Decaffeinated Dark Roast
- Peet’s Coffee Decaffeinated House Blend
- Seattle’s Best Decaffeinated Portside Blend
- Maxwell House Decaffeinated The Original Roast
Even the below-decaffeinated products have detected a large amount of methyl chloride, and so the pregnant women are advised to avoid these products at all costs.
- AmazonFresh Decaffeinated Colombia
- Gevalia Kaffe Decaffeinated House Blend
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Decaffeinated Breakfast Blend
- Kroger Decaffeinated Classic
- Great Value Decaffeinated Classic Roast
- Café Bustelo Decaffeinated Café Molido
What medicines contain caffeine?
Some of the medicines that are used to relieve pain, headache, cold, and to keep you awake contain caffeine in it. The labels on the medication specify the amount of caffeine in it.
It is always better to ask your health care provider about the medicines that contain caffeine before consuming it, which may include the prescription and over the counter medication.
Even some of the herbal products contain caffeine in it, which includes yerba mate, kola nut, guarana, tea extract. But the herbal products doesnt have the label stating the amount of caffeine it contains. So it is advised that pregnant women should avoid herbal medicines during the pregnancy phase as you won’t know how much caffeine it contains.
The bottom line
Every food is beneficial to us in some way or the other, but when its related to pregnancy, you have to be more concerned about whatever you are eating. So even caffeine provides various benefits for you, but to improve the health of your little one and all the pregnancy defects, you have to limit its intake per day. Therefore, in this article, I have tried to explain why caffeine is not good for pregnant, and I hope it has helped you to understand all the essential things and increase your knowledge related to caffeine.