Avoiding Caffeine During Pregnancy: Cutting Back on the Coffee and Soda

Cup of CoffeePrior to conceiving my daughter, I had read an article entitled “No Link between Moderate Caffeine Consumption and Miscarriage” in which The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared that the moderate consumption of caffeine does not appear to cause miscarriages or premature birth. Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I thought that giving up coffee during pregnancy would be next to impossible for me. Although I generally tried to limit the amount of caffeine that I consumed for general health reasons, I must admit that I enjoyed my morning cup of coffee as well as a refreshing Coke once in a while.

One the other hand, because too much caffeine gives me the jitters and an upset stomach, I drink mostly decaffeinated coffee and tea. Unfortunately, even decaf tea and coffee contain a small amount of caffeine, although such as small amount when compared to regular. Knowing that light to moderate caffeine consumption would probably be okay for me and my baby made me feel better, and, ultimately, giving up almost all caffeine turned out to be pretty easy!

Caffeine from foods and drinks like coffee and chocolate is an unhealthy drug (perhaps even one of the more unhealthy drugs) for both a developing baby and an expectant mother for a multitude of reasons. First, as a diuretic, caffeine prevents the body from absorbing essential nutrients like calcium by pushing vitamins, minerals, and other essential elements through the digestive system too quickly. Also as a diuretic, caffeine can make a pregnant woman who already has to pee all the time need to run to the bathroom even more frequently.

Second, in people who are sensitive to the drug, caffeine can increase the blood pressure and the heart rate. Not pregnant, I am already sensitive to caffeine. When I drink too much soda or coffee, I get very jittery and almost feel like I am crawling out of my skin. My heart sometimes races, and I will often feel like I am going to throw up. Knowing that morning sickness is already a common symptom of pregnancy, I did not want to add caffeine-induced nausea to my list of complaints. Plus, if my blood pressure and heart rate are increasing, then my unborn baby would be experiencing the same effects. For the sake of my baby, I decided that I should just give up as much caffeine as possible during pregnancy.

And what about the link between caffeine and miscarriage? According to the previously mentioned article, the moderate consumption of caffeine, defined as the consumption of 200 milligrams or less of caffeine a day, does not appear to increase the risk of miscarriage. Just to get an idea of what that much caffeine looks like, a twelve-ounce cup of full-caffeine coffee contains about 200 milligrams. Most caffeinated sodas and teas contain about 50 milligrams of caffeine per twelve ounces.

Because I mostly limit myself to decaffeinated tea and coffee, I felt pretty confident that my caffeine consumption fell into the moderate, if not light, range. Knowing that moderate caffeine consumption will not increase my risk of a miscarriage made me feel a little about my daily cup of coffee. On the other hand, though, I was stuck on the word appear. In other words, the results about a link between caffeine and miscarriage are not entirely conclusive. Having lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, I decided not to take the chance. I pretty much gave up caffeine entirely. I drank my beloved Coke only occasionally, which was usually in the form of a marshmallow vanilla Coke from my favorite sweet shop on the way to my midwife. I also drank fall less coffee than before, sticking to only decaf. As for tea, I continued to drink about thirty-two ounces a day but only herbal or decaffeinated varieties. Moderate caffeine consumption might be okay during pregnancy, but I was not about to take any chances.

Did you give up caffeine during pregnancy?


Caffeine in pregnancy: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/nutrition_caffeine.html
No link between moderate caffeine consumption and miscarriage: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/195533.php
What’s the real scoop on caffeine during pregnancy?: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/caffeine.html

Image Credits

Cup of Coffee: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coffeee_img451.jpg

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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