Caffeine & Pregnancy

Do you need a coffee? Tea? Diet Cola or some dark chocolate?

All of these have caffeine. Most pregnant moms want to to know if they can safely enjoy a cup, can or chocolate without any risk to the baby. Many moms feel tremendous guilt if they have an occasional diet soda.

Is it ok?

Here’s the deal, and it may just surprise you.
If pregnant moms can limit themselves to less than 3 cups/day, then it’s considered safe. So, ladies move on over to the Guilt Free Zone! And, enjoy that cup of coffee, tea or a little chocolate.

Notice, I didn’t say, have a diet soda. That’s because it’s important to limit your intake of empty calories and make sure to have water or milk to provide the baby with much needed nutrients.

What’s too much?

A recent study confirmed that drinking too much coffee while pregnant isn’t a good idea. Drinking more than 3 cups of coffee or tea, or other fully leaded drinks was associated with moms having babies with lower birth weights. Other studies found that more than 5 servings of caffeine each day is associated with a slightly higher risk of miscarriage.

That means that moderation is absolutely the key here.

What about DeCaf?

Decaf espresso, coffee and colas still have some caffeine, typically less than 10 mg of caffeine, so they should be fine.

What’s a serving?

  • One cup of coffee or tea = 1 serving
  • 1 shot of espresso = 3 servings
  • 2 shots of espresso = 6 servings
  • 1 shot of decaf espresso = 1 serving

Why do we recommend this?

It’s not known why this occurs, but researchers think that caffeine constricts blood vessels. Remember blood vessels transport blood and oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby.

Any constriction in those tiny, yet enormously important vessels could decrease the placenta’s efficiency and it’s ability to provide necessary nutrients to the baby.

What about chocolate?

Chocolate has much less caffeine than coffee and tea, so it’s ok to have chocolate in moderate amounts. A cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of chocolate ice cream is a great way to get more calcium. Try to limit yourself to 1-2 delicious servings of chocolate/day, mostly so you don’t gain too much weight.

If you love your coffee, try mixing caffeinated and decaffeinated and then add a lot of milk, which is a terrific source of protein and calcium.

So if you have a cup now and then, it’s probably ok for the baby. If you’ve got to have your leaded espressos and sodas, now’s a good time to try to cut back and switch to decaf.

Stopping all caffeine

If you decide to stop all caffeine and go cold turkey, please be prepared for a headache for about 3 days. And, as always if you have questions, check with your health care provider.

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