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Effects of Caffeine During Pregnancy

There are many of us who need that vital cup of tea or coffee to function – be it early in the morning, before leaving for work, whilst studying, or working late in the night. And then there are some who prefer a glass of juice or soda, while others binge on energy drinks. But did you know that most of these actually contain caffeine? Yes, caffeine is found in a surprising amount of energy drinks, beverages, and even chocolates. While consumption in small amounts isn’t harmful to most of us, caffeine can affect the nervous system which is especially harmful during pregnancy. And while there has been a lot of debate on how much consumption of caffeine is safe, latest research and studies state that limiting the intake of caffeine during pregnancy is the safest bet. In fact, the ACOG (or American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) state that a quantity of not more than 200 mg of caffeine per day is safe for pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.

Caffeine and Its Effects During Pregnancy

Not only is caffeine a stimulant, it is also a diuretic which means that excessive consumption of caffeine, especially during pregnancy, can cause dehydration, elevate blood pressure, and heighten your heart rate. Aside from that, it may also result in an uneasy sensation like jitters and shivers, and may cause heartburn or indigestion especially at night. And while caffeine might not directly be harmful, it will eventually pass through the placenta and reach the uterus where your growing fetus rests. An adult might well be able to handle the jolt of caffeine to their nerves, but a baby’s growing metabolism is still fragile and cannot handle the same. Some studies also show that excessive consumption of caffeine during pregnancy can result in the birth of babies suffering from a lower-than-normal weight.

How much Caffeine is Safe?

The question that begs for an answer is how much caffeine is actually safe during pregnancy, and as previously mentioned, the safest amount is not more than 200 mg or at the most an 11oz cup must be consumed. In spite of no written rules specifying this, pregnant women are advised not to push this limit, and even then, it is best to space your caffeine consumption throughout the day. If you are addicted to caffeinated products, try bringing down the dose slowly. The body will begin to feel lighter and much fresher once it gets decaffeinated. It is also a good idea to start consuming decaffeinated beverages or better yet, plan on switching to healthier drinks. Some good options are warm honey with lime juice, fresh fruit juices, and smoothies especially green ones.

Risk of Miscarriage & Birth Defect

There are a lot of so-called facts floating around on the Internet. Of those, one major worrisome statement is that caffeine can cause miscarriages. While there are no hard facts to support this statement, some research has shown that too much caffeine, when pregnant, might result in a sudden miscarriage. And to remain safe from any such scare, it is best to limit yourself from consuming too much caffeine-rich food and drinks. Some researchers have also conceded that excessive caffeine consumption can lead to birth defects. And though there have been no conclusive results, it has been found that consuming too many caffeinated drinks or products may cause infertility, premature delivery, and reproductive problems.

Developmental Issues

Mother’s milk is best for a child, but if the child is fed when one is loaded with caffeine may pose a threat to the baby’s mental development. As caffeine enters the baby’s bloodstream during the feeding, they might be facing the after-effects of caffeine. AAP or the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that a mother’s milk does contain some amount of caffeine, so excessive caffeine intake during pregnancy might make your baby fussy or irritable, and even have trouble sleeping. If it is difficult to give up coffee completely, so try sticking to a small cup or two in a day and remember to keep caffeine count between 150 to 200 mg in a day.

To ensure double safety, don’t forget to read the label of each product and carefully check the amount of caffeine in it. Sudden withdrawal from caffeine might result in headaches, nausea, or even dizziness; consult a doctor in such case, and do not experiment with drugs yourself. And lastly, remember to regulate beverage intake, brew tea or coffee for a shorter time, and overall, try to stick to healthier, decaffeinated beverages for a safer pregnancy.

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