As soon as the second line on a pregnancy test proves your dreams have come true, you start reconsidering your lifestyle, including eating habits. Your maternal instinct has been strong since the first few days of pregnancy. So, it makes you mindful of what you have to do for the sake of your own body and your unborn baby. The health of your child depends on your own health. But what about the habits you’ve enjoyed indulging yourself in so much? How, for example, can you abandon your usual cup of coffee in the morning? Let’s figure out if there is a place for caffeine during pregnancy!
Caffeine and Pregnancy
Of course, any future mother puts a lot of effort in order to avoid unnecessary risks, threatening her delicate condition in one way or another. And any pregnant woman understands the importance of a healthy diet. The question of a proper eating schedule which will contain all the necessary vitamins and nutrients and exclude unhealthy products should be solved during the first weeks. Surely, an expectant mother understands that all the products containing chemicals are banned from her daily ration. She’ll need to carefully inspect every dish she’s got used to eating for dinner so that nothing will harm the child.
So, can pregnant women drink coffee? This is one of the most frequently asked questions. There are a lot of future mothers who are, at the same time, passionate coffee lovers. Natural coffee is indeed a delicious and healthy beverage if one drinks it in moderate amounts. However, doctors advise shortening the number of breaks for coffee while pregnant. And why do they? What’s, in experts’ opinion, wrong with caffeine during pregnancy?
The Effects of Caffeine During Pregnancy on a Future Mother
As the pregnancy takes its course the volume of blood coursing through the future mother’s veins and arteries increases. That’s why the cardiovascular system of a pregnant woman becomes strained. Drinking coffee causes increased blood pressure which can overload the system even more. But that also means that the pregnant suffering from low blood pressure could benefit from a little coffee for breakfast!
If an expectant mother is a coffee addict and can’t give up her favorite drink she should at least take into consideration the fact that coffee is stimulating and irritating the nervous system. Don’t drink too much coffee during the day and avoid caffeine at all costs in the evening. Caffeine during pregnancy can induce insomnia or nightmares – are you sure you need such things?
By the way, other food and drinks that contain caffeine have a similar effect. They include Coca-Cola, chocolate (especially dark chocolate), strong tea.
The abovementioned qualities of caffeine during pregnancy are not the only ones that matter. Coffee is a strong diuretic. It’s a well-known fact that during pregnancy women experience discomfort related to frequent urination. The reason for it lies in the gradually increasing size of the uterus which puts more and more pressure on the bladder over the course of time. It is quite obvious that the intake of caffeine during pregnancy will cause the poor woman to visit the bathroom even more often. And this can also result in such serious consequences as dehydration and the disruption of the salt-water balance.
Scientific Opinion about Caffeine During Pregnancy
According to the latest research, drinking coffee while pregnant has an influence on the growth and development of the fetus. Caffeine can get to the fetus through the placenta. For example, there is an opinion that the regular intake of caffeine during pregnancy is one of the reasons for babies born 3.5-7 ounces underweight. And by consuming 8-10 cups of coffee per day a future mother puts her unborn baby’s well-being in danger. In this case, the child can face hypoxia and developmental delays. Caffeine during pregnancy affects the muscle tone of the uterus, so the pregnancy may end in a miscarriage or stillbirth.
However, according to the results of other studies initiated by Danish scientists, coffee isn’t that dangerous for an expectant mother. A pregnant woman can drink 2-3 small cups of coffee a day without any necessary risk for her and her baby’s health. More to say, the possibilities of an underweight or premature baby are not mentioned at all! The scientific data vary greatly.
That’s why medical experts insist on a future mother discussing such controversial issues with a competent specialist. After a careful examination of individual data and the medical history of pregnancy, a physician will be able to understand whether it’s safe for a future mother to consume caffeine during pregnancy or not. And, please, don’t listen to people talking about their own recklessness during pregnancy: “I’d been drinking coffee while pregnant – and nothing happened!” It doesn’t make caffeine during pregnancy safe for every woman. Everyone has their own reaction to this beverage.
Pay attention to your organism during pregnancy: if you are not feeling well because of coffee (your heart has begun to race or you feel unpleasant throbbing in your temples) put your cup aside at once and forget about caffeine during pregnancy forever!
Caffeine During Pregnancy Trimesters and its Effects on the Fetus
The issue of the intake of caffeine during pregnancy by a future mother should be considered with respect to the exact pregnancy term. Caffeine affects the fetus differently in the first, second, and third trimester.
Thus, during the first weeks after conception, the embryo is especially fragile. The formation of its internal organs has just begun and the tiny being can’t get rid of the components of coffee. It’s obvious that during this period of time the influence of caffeine-containing drinks is strong: a minimum dose accelerates its heart rate several times.
As a diuretic, coffee while pregnant can help future mothers to prevent swellings during the second trimester. But it’s best not to drink coffee in the first trimester. It can induce dehydration and, as a result, interfere with the blood flow to the placenta, so the fetus won’t get enough nutrients. Besides, caffeine during pregnancy in early terms can negatively affect the formation of the baby’s skeleton. That’s why the optimal amount of coffee at the time is 1 cup every 2-3 days.
As the pregnancy is taking its course the future mother may drink coffee more often provided that the amount and concentration of the beverage are adequate.
When is Caffeine During Pregnancy Fine?
“I drink coffee while pregnant and can’t do anything about it, though I feel guilty”, – doctors hear this from their pregnant patients very often. Indeed, a pregnant woman can’t help but feel remorse if she can’t resist her habit. However, a competent specialist would offer the expecting mother some alternate solution.
First of all, we should mention that there are some contraindications to drinking coffee during pregnancy. Let’s name the factors that ban caffeine from your diet:
- Tachycardia, heart problems;
- Severe mood swings, tearfulness;
- Stomach ulcer;
- Pancreas inflammation;
- Sleeping disorders, insomnia;
- Abnormal development of the placenta.
If the pregnant woman noticed even one of these conditions she’d better forget about caffeine during pregnancy until she gives birth.
The negative aftermath of drinking coffee while pregnant becomes a reality if an expectant mother consumes a lot of caffeine and does it often. There is only one conclusion: in order to reduce the risks for the mother’s and the baby’s health, it’s best to drink reasonable amounts of coffee and not to make it strong.
Coffee While Pregnant: Important Rules
First of all, reduce the consumption of coffee while pregnant to 1-2 cups a day. Make sure you add milk or cream to your beverage – that’ll prevent you from losing calcium, necessary for you and the growing fetus.
You’ll also need to drink a sufficient amount of water to prevent your organism from dehydration. And one more tip: drink coffee only in the morning, so that you won’t have difficulties falling asleep at night.
If you’re still worried about the effects of coffee on your unborn baby, ask your doctor about possible alternate solutions. For example, medical experts often advise drinking chicory root beverages or cocoa instead of coffee. Cocoa, by the way, is a valuable source of calcium and proteins for a future mother.
In general, the recommendations about caffeine during pregnancy can be expressed in short: if you want a cup of coffee so much you can’t think about anything else, drink it. There won’t be any harm done if a future mother has a small cup of the drink in the morning after a hearty breakfast. This little indulgence will ensure her good mood and vigor during the day!
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.