Caffeine during pregnancy
Dr. Pooja Shah is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Baywood Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (480) 543-6754.
Question: I’ve heard that you don’t have to completely give up caffeine during pregnancy. How much caffeine can pregnant women have and what are the potential risks of consuming caffeine during pregnancy?
Answer: There’s been a lot of controversy in the past regarding the amount of caffeine that is safe to consume in pregnancy, but currently we recommend that pregnant women consume less than 200mg of caffeine daily (which equals roughly 8-12oz of coffee). This recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the March of Dimes.
Along with the potential effects caffeine can have on the mother (increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, increased urination, and dehydration), caffeine does cross the placenta and into breast milk. There have been several research studies conducted exploring the impact of caffeine on difficulty conceiving (getting pregnant), risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Some of the studies have conflicting results but experts have concluded that moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200mg per day) does not appear to be a major contributing factor in these cases. Higher caffeine intake, however, may have some negative consequences in pregnancy. As a result, it’s important for women to limit their caffeine intake prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.
If caffeine is a part of your daily routine, it’s usually best to decrease caffeine use gradually by limiting consumption and switching to products with less caffeine content. For instance, increase decaffeinated coffee, tea, or soda use (this still with minimal amounts of caffeine), add more milk to your coffee, or brew your coffee or tea for a shorter amount of time.
It’s also important to realize that caffeine is not only in coffee and soda, but is also found in coffee-favored products (like ice cream and frozen yogurt), tea, energy drinks, chocolate, herbal preparations, and some over the counter medications for headaches, to name a few. Be sure to read the product labels and research the products you consume. If you’re still not sure, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider or just avoid these products during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, or are considering having children, and have concerns about your caffeine consumption, talk toyour healthcare provider.