If you’re planning a pregnancy or are an expectant mama, you’ve probably heard from some source or another that you’ll have to give up your morning coffee during pregnancy. Giving up this small part of your day can be hugely challenging for some, especially if you’re managing pregnancy fatigue.
During pregnancy, the possible risk with drinking coffee is related to caffeine consumption. However, the good news is that you may not need to give it up altogether. Here’s everything you need to know about caffeine and pregnancy.
Why is caffeine consumption a concern during pregnancy?
Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in coffee, some teas, energy drinks, chocolate, some soft drinks, and some over-the-counter medications.
There are some concerns with caffeine consumption during pregnancy for a few different reasons. Stimulants are known to increase blood pressure and heart rate, which is not recommended during pregnancy and may cause maternal health risks. Caffeine also crosses the placenta to your baby, which may pose risk of complications as your baby does not have the enzymes needed to metabolize caffeine. These risks could include increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, or lower birth weight.
However, the challenge is that there’s still a lot we don’t know about the impact that caffeine has on pregnancy outcomes. Research surrounding caffeine consumption during pregnancy shows us mixed results on whether or not moderate caffeine intake poses risks. Even for the studies that do show increased risk of caffeine consumption during pregnancy, it’s very difficult to determine caffeine caused the increased risks since there are so many variable factors.
What do current recommendations say about caffeine during pregnancy?
Since research does show mixed results in terms of the impact of caffeine on pregnancy outcomes, current health guidelines suggest limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy.
Around the world, current recommendations are even a bit contradictory. Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommend limiting caffeine intake to less than 300mg per day during pregnancy, while the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the NHS recommend limiting it to less than 200mg per day. Until we have more high quality research, I typically recommend the more conservative approach when possible to limit caffeine consumption to less than 200mg per day during pregnancy.
So does this mean that I can drink my coffee during pregnancy?
To consume less than 200-300mg of caffeine per day, it’s important to know where caffeine is coming from and how much you might be consuming. Here are some common sources of caffeine and roughly how much they would contain:
1 cup (250mL) home brewed coffee = 95 to 170mg caffeine
1 shot of espresso = 75mg caffeine
1 cup (250mL) black tea = 47.4mg caffeine
1 can pop (350mL) = 35mg caffeine
100g dark chocolate = 43mg caffeine
It’s also important to keep in mind that caffeine content can vary based on the roast, brewing method, and strength of your coffee or teas. Always check the label to verify the caffeine content!
Do you have more questions about caffeine consumption and pregnancy? Book a complimentary meet & greet call with our registered dietitian today!