What are the effects of caffeine on pregnancy and is there a safe amount?

In times past, many physicians recommended against caffeine during pregnancy.  research had shown that caffeine does indeed pass on through the placenta to your baby.  However, many physicians and researchers now believe that moderate amounts of caffeine (less than 300 milligrams a day) won’t harm your baby.

Some studies found that women who did have more than a moderate amount of caffeine had a higher risk of miscarriage.  High caffeine consumption may also slightly increase the risk of preterm labor or low birth weight, or aggravate other factors that cause preterm labor or low birth weight.  Other research has shown that babies of women who got more than 500 mg a day had faster heart rates and breathing rates, and spent more time awake in the first few days after birth.

Cutting back on your caffeine intake may help you feel better in general while you are pregnant.  Caffeine is a stimulant, so it increases your heart rate and metabolism and can cause insomnia, nervousness, and headaches.  It can stimulate the secretion of stomach acid, creating heartburn.  Caffeine is also a diuretic and make you become dehydrated more easily.  As you progress later into your pregnancy process, your body will break down caffeine more slowly, creating a higher level of caffeine in your body and aggravating these effects.

Coffee and tea may present their own problems, in addition to their caffeine content.  These beverages typically contain compounds called phenols that make it harder for your body to absorb iron. Many pregnant women are already low on iron.  If you drink any coffee or tea you might consider having it between meals so it has less of an effect on your iron absorption.

In monitoring your caffeine intake, it is critical that you read product labels.  For example, an 8 oz cup of brewed coffee can contain anywhere from 65 to 300 mg of caffeine.  An 8 oz cup of decaf will contain 1-8 mg of caffeine.  brewed tea is fairly high in caffeine at 35-175 mg, while green tea generally contains between 40 and 80 mg.  A 12-ounce soft drink will contain between 30 and 60 mg of caffeine.  1 ounce of Dark or semi-sweet chocolate contains 5-35 mg, and 1 ounce of milk chocolate contains between1 and 15 mg.



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