Does Caffeine Affect Pregnancy?

With the endless nights of no sleep, the tossing and turning and the frequent trips to the toilet in the night will be enough to make you want to drink 9 gallons of coffee, and that's just in the morning. 

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Can I Drink Coffee Whilst Pregnant?

Whilst you're pregnant. you should be aiming to cut caffeine down to the bare minimum. During the 9 months, your new limit of coffee should be no more than 200mg a day, this equals at around 2 mugs of coffee. This is in place to make sure your baby is healthy and to avoid any health defects to your newborn. Whilst we are still awaiting evidence as to which birth defects can be caused due to your caffeine intake, there are reasons to believe caffeine is a key factor in your baby being born early or with a low birth weight. 

Overindulging in caffeinated drinks can lead to problems during your pregnancy, including restricting growth and development of the fetus. Your risk of miscarriage can be significantly increased due to your daily caffeine intake. 

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What Risks Does Caffeine Have On Me During Pregnancy?

Caffeine is a stimulant which increases your blood pressure and heart rate. Having a high blood pressure can bring a number of health concerns/complications for you during pregnancy. High blood pressure can lead to Preeclampsia and this affects both you and your baby. Preeclampsia can bring on symptoms such as;

  • Abnormal swelling in hands and face, 
  • Difficulty breathing, 
  • Nausea or vomiting in later pregnancy, 
  • Persistent headaches, 
  • Any problems with your vision. 

Another health complication which can be developed from high blood pressure is HELLP Syndrome. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. This can also be developed from having Preeclampsia and can be life threatening. Symptoms of HELLP Syndrome can include;

  • Nausea, 
  • Vomiting, 
  • Headaches/Migraines, 
  • Upper abdominal pain. 

With HELLP Syndrome being so life threatening, they will usually deliver your baby prematurely if they can't reduce your blood pressure. This is 

What Risks Does Caffeine Have On My Unborn Baby?

Whilst you have the ability to handle the caffeine you drink, your unborn baby can not. They have a difficulty processing the caffeine and can be up at random times of the night as a result of this. You may notice your baby's movement changing and they may become inconsistent and they may have no routine as a result of caffeine being in their system. 

Drinking caffeine, or levels of caffeine over your recommended daily allowance, can cause your baby a few health complications. Your baby will have an increased risk of Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR), otherwise known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). If your baby continues to grow and develop at a much slower rate, they will have to deliver your baby prematurely. 

Newborn_Baby_Tiny

What Food and Drink Should I Avoid?

It's easy to come home and indulge in the things we shouldn't but whilst being pregnant, you have to sacrifice a lot of things, coffee being one of them. As caffeine can be found in a number of products, you might find it's not just coffee that you're giving up for 9 months. Take a look at the list below and you may be surprised at which items are off limits. 

  • Coffee, 
  • Tea, 
  • Chocolate, 
  • Carbonated drinks, 
  • Ice-cream (coffee or chocolate flavour), 
  • Cereal (containing chocolate), 
  • Headache remedies. 

We are not telling you to dispose of all chocolate, coffee and anything that could contain caffeine. You are advised to stay within your recommended daily allowance. 

How Do I Know How Much Caffeine I Am Drinking?

 Each product has a certain amount of caffeine, even products you might not suspect, so it can be difficult to keep track of the amount of caffeine you're taking in throughout the day. Each brand of products will vary in the percentage of caffeine so all amounts listed below may vary. 

  • One cup of coffee (instant): 60-80 mg
  • One cup of coffee (filtered): 60-120 mg
  • One cup of tea: 10-50mg
  • One bar of milk chocolate (100g): 20mg

 You can find caffeine calculators online, for if you're struggling to know how much caffeine you're having throughout the day. Other drinks you could try swapping them out for are simple, and easy;

  • Water, 
  • Juice, 
  • Milk, 
  • Flavoured water, 
  • Decaffeinated hot drinks, 
  • Decaffeinated soda. 
  • Easy DIY mocktails. 

You should try to cut out the use of energy drinks as these aren't viewed as safe even before pregnancy. But whilst you're pregnant, energy drinks should not be part of your daily intake of fluids. 

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If you have any concerns, the best thing to do is contact your healthcare provider. They will be able to advise you further and be able to speak to you more about the risks it can cause to you or your unborn baby. If you're a person who lives by the saying "better safe than sorry", just ask the question. 

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November 13, 2019
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