Question: I love to drink coffee through the day to keep me going. Do I really have to give up all caffeine while I’m pregnant?
Answer: Caffeine does enter the fetal circulation, but scientists still aren’t sure to what amount. There is some support for the idea that caffeine isn’t the best idea during pregnancy, it seems light coffee drinking doesn’t seem to be a problem. The most recent studies show that those who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day are most likely not putting their babies at risk. Still, the miscarriage rate does increase in women who drank 5-6 cups of coffee a day.
Until more studies are done, it is suggested that you either avoid caffeine or limit yourself to no more than two servings a day. As you estimate how much caffeine you consume, keep in mind that caffeine isn’t just found in coffee: soft drinks, coffee yogurt, tea, and chocolate also contain it. Dark coffee sold at coffee houses contains more caffeine than coffee that you brew at home. Also, instant coffee has less caffeine than drip coffee does.
There are other reasons to cut back on caffeine: it has a diuretic effect, meaning that fluid and calcium (nutrients that are very important to your health and your baby’s health) leave your body more quickly. If you’re already finding that you need to frequently urinate, drinking coffee will only make that worse. Plus, coffee with cream and sugar are filling and satisfying without having nutritional value, and can ruin your appetite for the healthy food you need. Also, too much caffeine can keep you from getting enough rest, especially if you drink it after noon.
You can cut back on your caffeine intake by choosing a decaffeinated replacement – just don’t let it replace milk, orange juice, or other healthy beverages. If you need the “pick-me-up” you get from drinking coffee in the morning, consider using exercise and nutritious food for a more natural, longer-lasting boost. If you were a heavy coffee drinker before your pregnancy, make sure to ease off it gradually so you don’t experience the withdrawal symptoms too badly.