How Much Caffeine is Safe During Pregnancy?

Traditionally doctors in America recommend that pregnant moms consume no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day and guidelines from doctors in Europe say no more than 200 mg.  What does this mean in practical purposes?

There is typically 80 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee so math tells us pregnant women should drink not much more than three cups of coffee a day. Most cola beverages contain 40 mg of caffeine but some sodas like Mountain Dew are closer to 60 mg. Energy shots, may contain over 200 mg of caffeine and there is no reason any pregnant woman should drink one.

Tea is a different story.  If you brew it yourself the average amount of caffeine in black tea is 40 mg and in green tea only about 20 mg.   There are so many commercial beverages containing tea available, some fortified with additional caffeine, that you have to check the label of anything you purchase and do not brew yourself.

Why are we cautious about caffeine?  Is there a problem for the unborn child growing in the mother’s womb?  Until recently the scientific literature seemed to indicate that caffeine neither hurt nor helped the baby inside you.  However the information is changing.  In a recent study out of Norway the nutritional habits of 59,000 pregnant women were analyzed and the data on caffeine consumption was disturbing.  For every 100 mg of caffeine pregnant women consumed per day, their children were born about one ounce lighter than they should have been.  That means if you drink three cups of coffee a day your child will be about three ounces smaller than predicted.   That is a lot if you only weigh seven pounds at birth. The study noted there was no risk of early delivery in coffee drinkers so that was reassuring.

Researchers have also looked at other issues surrounding coffee and pregnancy.  One question that comes up repeatedly is will coffee or caffeine consumed by the mother during breast feeding disturb the nursing child’s sleep?  The answer is no – which I am sure is a relief to tired young breast feeding mothers everywhere.

How about if you are trying to become pregnant, can caffeine interfere or help?  It seems it can make a difference depending on how you get your caffeine.  Coffee seems to have no effect, but drinking tea seems to increase fertility while regular soda pop consumption seems to decrease the likelihood of becoming pregnant.  The effect of soda pop on reducing the odds of becoming pregnant were proportional to the amount drank.  While one helping reduced the odds by 10 percent, three sodas a day reduced the odds of pregnancy by 50 percent.

So in summary be cautious with caffeine if you are pregnant.  Limit your coffee to no more than one to two cups a day, consider tea instead which has less caffeine and avoid energy shots of all types.  If you are trying to become pregnant do not drink soda pop at all.


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