It’s common knowledge that doctors recommend avoiding coffee while pregnant or breastfeeding due to its high caffeine content though. What is less-known is why doctors recommend this, how caffeine affects your baby, and exactly how much caffeine is safe to consume on a daily basis when pregnant or breastfeeding.
To really understand how caffeine can potentially affect a pregnancy, you first have to know how caffeine affects the body in general. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, which means it can cause an increase in both blood pressure and heart rate (both of which are bad during pregnancy). Caffeine is also a diuretic, which can lead to increased urination, and sometimes result in dehydration.
How does caffeine affect your baby?
Caffeine has the ability to cross the placenta to your baby, or be transmitted to your baby through your breast milk, which is why doctors recommend against consuming caffeine when pregnant and breastfeeding. While your adult body can effectively and safely metabolize caffeine, your baby’s metabolism is not yet strong enough to fully metabolize caffeine. Caffeine can also adversely affect a baby’s sleep pattern (just like it affects yours), since it’s a stimulant.
How much caffeine is safe?
When pregnant it is best to consume as little caffeine as possible. There’s actually not a lot of solid information on the effects—positive or negative—of caffeine during pregnancy, which is why experts agree that less is best. Expert’s advice on how much to consume ranges from drinking no more than 150mg to 300mg of caffeine a day; a 12oz cup of coffee contains 200mg of caffeine. For a list of how much caffeine is in several popular drinks, snacks and medicine, visit here. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does say it’s safe for a breastfeeding mom to have caffeine; however they suggest moms limit their caffeine intake to no more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day.
If possible, skip caffeine altogether when pregnant. However if you really need your caffeine fix (which many of us do) it is best to check with your healthcare provider to get their recommendation, as they are most familiar with your health history. Also remember, caffeine isn’t restricted to coffee; it can also be found in tea, soda, certain energy drinks, chocolate and even some over the counter headache medications.