There seems to be a general consensus among medical experts that too much caffeine intake during pregnancy could be harmful to a fetus. What remains undecided is just how much caffeine is too much. While most experts would be pleased if pregnant women cut caffeine out of their diets altogether, they would also agree that it may not be necessary to stop it completely. So, is caffeine safe during pregnancy? Or is it best to just stop consuming it completely?
Recent studies have shown that mothers whose caffeine intake exceeds 200 mg daily nearly double their risk of miscarriage compared to those who didn't consume any. However, not all studies are conclusive on this matter, so the exact amount of caffeine that is safe remains up for debate. However, most experts would agree that 200 mg or less is probably a safe amount.
The risk of miscarriage is not the only danger tied to caffeine intake during pregnancy. Some studies have shown that women who consume large amounts of caffeine also doubled their risk of stillbirth. Though there have been studies showing a link between lower birth weight and caffeine consumption, the research in that area is still inconclusive. In addition, it seems that mothers who consume more than 500 mg of caffeine daily while pregnant have faster heart and breathing rates, and have more trouble sleeping after delivery.
The possible dangers to your baby aside, you may wish to consider cutting back or eliminating caffeine simply because you may feel a lot better if you do. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it makes your heart beat faster, may raise your blood pressure, could make you jittery and cause insomnia. Caffeine intake can also contribute to heartburn, which is a problem for many pregnant women to begin with.
While you may realize that there are many advantages to cutting your caffeine intake during your pregnancy, you will also need to become aware of all the places where caffeine can be found. Coffee is the obvious source of caffeine, but black tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate and coffee ice cream all contains enough caffeine to be significant. In addition, many herbal and over-the-counter remedies contain caffeine as well. Now, more than ever, it's important to read labels carefully.
Once you have identified the sources of your caffeine intake it's time to figure out how to cut back. Some pregnant women find that their morning sickness makes them averse to a lot of caffeinated beverages, making quitting very easy. Others find it simple to switch to decaffeinated versions of their favorite drinks. Decaffeinated drinks sometimes still contain caffeine, just much less.
To answer the question, is caffeine safe during pregnancy, there is no black and white answer. No one will dispute that no caffeine is a good thing, but the consensus seems to be that a small amount, up to and less than 200 mg daily is quite safe. Fortunately, quitting caffeine, while somewhat uncomfortable, is still much easier than other, more dangerous habits like smoking and drinking.