Is Caffeine in Pregnancy Off-limits:Is any amount actually safe?

With caffeine being a stimulant that boosts energy and makes you feel more alert, is it any wonder that it’s consumed worldwide by so many?

And because coffee and tea are two of the most popular sources, these are often the ones we talk about for their safety in pregnancy.

Admittedly coffee is the most talked-about drink with soon-to-be mamas and new moms.

But what about the other drinks and foods that contain caffeine?

Do these need to be included in the amount of caffeine we have in a day too? Let’s take a look…

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural substance that can be extracted from plants. Natural sources of caffeine include coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa beans. 

Caffeine is in many foods and drinks, including-

  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black tea
  • Green tea 
  • Energy Drinks

Caffeine can also be produced synthetically and is found in some medicines, foods, and beverages. These include-

  • Pain + cold medicines 
  • Over-the-counter medicines for alertness
  • Energy drinks 
  • Energy-boosting gums and snacks
  • Soft drinks

Caffeine’s Half Life

Caffeine is rapidly and completely absorbed in healthy individuals, and it reaches a peak level in your blood within 30 to 60 minutes.

The rate at which you metabolise caffeine is determined by caffeine’s half-life, 3 to 5 hours. The half-life is the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine, with the remaining caffeine staying in your body for a longer time.

Use this elimination time as a guide because we all metabolise caffeine differently. Also, the more caffeine you have, the longer it takes to eliminate it from your body.

Is Caffeine Safe to Have in pregnancy?

For many people, caffeine has potential benefits, including better energy levels and focus.

However, it can cause adverse side effects in some soon-to-be mamas, and too much can be harmful during pregnancy.

Caffeine is metabolised differently by everyone, and in pregnancy, it’s metabolised a lot slower.

It can take 1.5 –3.5 times longer to eliminate it from your system, and during the last four weeks of pregnancy, the half-life of caffeine increases from an average of 3 hours for non-pregnant women to 10.5 hours.

Caffeine also crosses the placenta to your baby which raises concerns that it can affect the baby’s health.

The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend less than 200 mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy and no more than 300mg for lactating mamas.

Risk of Consuming Too Much Caffeine in Pregnnacy

  • Miscarriage in early pregnancy
  • Small birth weight baby
  • Birth defects
  • Preterm labour + delivery
  • Increased anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Poor sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced fertility
  • Increased heartrate

Sources of Caffeine

What About Decaffinated Coffee?

Despite its name, decaf coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine, and the average cup of decaf coffee contains around 2 -15 mg of caffeine.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are not recommended at all during pregnancy or for lactating mamas.

These drinks usually contain a lot of added sugars or artificial sweeteners. They can also include herbs, such as ginseng that are unsafe for pregnant women.  

Let’s Recap

  • The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.
  • Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and soft drinks.
  • Caffeine can interfere with sleep and contribute to nausea and morning sickness.
  • Caffeine can increase urination and lead to dehydration in pregnancy which in turn may lead to UTI’s.
  • Pregnancy complications are related to too much caffeine intake.
  • Limit caffeine to less than 300 mg while breastfeeding.
  • Caffeine has some benefits, but during pregnancy limit your intake to less than 200mg/day. 
  • Check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the amount of caffeine in your diet.
  • Avoid all energy drinks in pregnancy + during breastfeeding.

Learn more about pregnancy nutrition and be confident in the choices you’re making for yourself and your baby. Join the Nourished Mama Circle to have a nutritionist at your fingertips along with a community to support you through your pregnancy journey.

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