Caffeine During Pregnancy (Can I Drink Coffee?)
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Congratulations, you're pregnant! Does that mean it's time to stop enjoying your morning cuppa?
While I'm not a medical expert, I do have some experience with pregnancy and caffeine, the ingestion of which is sometimes frowned upon by busybody strangers in line at the coffee shop.
'Should you be drinking that?' they'll ask, gesturing toward my burgeoning belly.
'Um. Should you be minding your own business? Yes!'
Everybody's a critic when you're expecting.
Still, they have a point. Caffeine, whether it comes from coffee, tea, or that dark chocolate bar you keep stashed under your mattress, is a stimulant and a diuretic. Any substance stronger than a glass of water should be carefully considered during pregnancy. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering whether or not to stick with decaf:
- Caffeine has been shown in some studies to contribute to miscarriages in early pregnancy. Other studies, however, have found no link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage. This is certainly something to keep in mind if you are prone to miscarriage, or if you're very sensitive to caffeine.
- Caffeine is a diuretic. This means that caffeine makes you urinate. Ironically, the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become, so if you consume caffeinated products, drink more water.
- Caffeine is a stimulant. This is why we like it. Ingesting caffeinated products raises your heart rate, increases focus and concentration, and makes you feel more alert. It can also make you nervous and cranky. Because caffeine crosses the placenta, the baby will also feel these same effects. The fetus will react to caffeine in the same way that his mother does, with increased heart rate, quicker reactions, and nervousness.
The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy to 200 mgs a day - the equivalent of one 12 oz. cup of coffee. If you can cut it out all together, great. But if you love your coffee and tea, go ahead and have a little bit. Just a little.