Okay ladies, I am going to share one of my biggest struggles during pregnancy! I am not one addicted to soft drinks, or MUST have chocolate every day but, as you can tell from one of my previous posts, I am ADDICTED to my coffee. There is nothing I miss more than waking up in the morning, sitting outside with a book or magazine, sipping on my freshly brewed coffee. But, trumping my love for calming coffee mornings is my love for knowing that I am doing everything possible to ensure the optimal health of my growing child!
So, what effects does caffeine, whether from coffee, soft drinks, or that yummy chocolate bar, have on a pregnant woman and her soon-to-be sweet baby? How much is okay?
There are many reasons to avoid sources of caffeine while pregnant. Caffeine is a major stimulant and can increase heart rate in the mother as well as the child. Grabbing that soda or cup of coffee to give yourself an extra boost also crosses over the placenta to your baby causing similar effects. Although, you may be able to handle it, your baby cannot. (I know I noticed a BIG change in movement in Marley after even two or three sips of my Diet Mt. Dew craving!) If you’re already having trouble sleeping at night or her sleeping pattern doesn’t match up with yours, this could potentially cause even further difficulties. I have also had problems with extreme heartburn after drinking just the slightest bit of coffee…another reason I avoid it! If you take what was explained in my previous post on coffee (and tea) and its effects on iron, that is another reason consumption should be lowered during pregnancy. It lowers the absorption rate of iron in the body and iron is extremely important to maintain during pregnancy.
There are many studies testing the true effects of caffeine on pre-term labor and low birth weight. Some that I have read resulted in inconclusive readings yet some showed an increased risk of low birth weight babies in women who consumed high amounts of caffeine during their pregnancy. In my opinion, if it is questionable just lay off it for nine months! Better to be safe than sorry!
Obviously, caffeine is found in many products so complete avoidance poses a problem for many. March of Dimes, National Health Service, and the American Dietetics Association, have recommendations between 150-300 mg per day limit for pregnant women.
To give you an idea of the caffeine content of some of the more popular items, here is a list according to the Mayo Clinic research:
- 8oz mug of Brewed Coffee has anywhere between 95-200 mg of caffeine
- 8oz cup of tea, depending on the kind ranges from 5-70 mg of caffeine
- 12 oz sodas can range from 0-55 mg of caffeine
- Hershey Chocolate bar ranges from 5-30 mg (the darker the chocolate the higher the caffeine content due to less processing)
And lastly, the one that shocked me the most:
If you want to read more about the science behind there are TONS of peer reviewed research articles out there on the topic! Here is a snapshot of one of the more recent studies I read over!
Questions and comments are COMPLETELY welcome!