Can I Drink Coffee During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women are advised to be very careful about the types of medications they take and the food they eat during the forty weeks they're nurturing the growing baby in their wombs. All food and medicines ingested by the mother passes through the placenta into the bloodstream of the developing fetus. There are some common substances that are safe to ingest when you're not pregnant. However, when you're pregnant, some of them have to be taken with care. Is coffee one of them?

Is It Safe to Drink Coffee During Pregnancy?

Dieticians and nutritionists believe that a maximum daily allowance of caffeine during pregnancy is 200 mg. The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day is safe for pregnant women and the fetus. That's the equivalent of one cup of brewed coffee or 2 cups of instant coffee. However, the advice is to rather abstain or cut down on your daily, regular caffeine needs to give your baby the healthiest start to life.

Remember that caffeine is not only found in coffee but in other beverages like tea, soft drinks, chocolate, energy drinks etc. Even green tea contains caffeine.

Potential Risks of Drinking Too Much Coffee During Pregnancy

More than 300 mg daily of caffeine while you're pregnant can result in:

  • A low birth weight baby which can cause other health issues later on in the baby's life. There is a definite and proven link between restricted growth rate of the fetus and high levels of ingested caffeine by the mother.
  • It also increases your risk of miscarriage. There have been studies done to prove this link between high caffeine intake and an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Some medical practitioners believe that caffeine intake during pregnancy can lead to hyperactivity disorders.
  • Pre-term delivery is another concern some doctors have but this has not been proven.
  • There has been a link found between caffeine and childhood leukemia. Researchers believe that the caffeine may alter the fetal DNA, making the child more disposed to the development of leukemia.
  • High coffee intake can also lead to childhood obesity as discovered by a recent study. The higher the caffeine intake of the expectant mother, the higher the risk of an obese child.

Ways to Cut down Your Caffeine Intake

  • Switch to decaffeinated coffee
  • Move from brewed coffee to instant coffee granules which are lower in caffeine
  • Use less coffee granules to make your favorite coffee
  • Cut down on teas, sodas, chocolate and energy drinks

Other Moms' Experiences on Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy

"Once I found out I was pregnant, I gave up all products containing caffeine-from my daily 2 cups of coffee to teas, chocolates and sodas. I wanted to be safe rather than sorry and give my baby the best chance at a healthy life."

"With my previous two pregnancies, I avoided coffee. With this pregnancy, I'm having about 2 cups of coffee, especially for that afternoon energy slump. My doctor is very happy with my pregnancy-I have had a healthy weight gain and my blood pressure is great. I am optimistic that this third baby is going to be as healthy as my other two babies."

"I am a coffee lover but during both of my pregnancies, I had a total aversion to the smell of coffee. I couldn't even walk past a coffee shop without gagging! Funny enough, after I delivered the babies, I was fine and able to tolerate and drink coffee again. I think that was nature's way of keeping me from consuming caffeine during pregnancy."

"With my first two pregnancies, I cut out caffeine completely and had very cranky and colicky babies. For my third pregnancy, I continued with my daily intake of caffeine and this baby turned out to be the most relaxed baby."

Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy

In addition to limiting your intake of coffee during pregnancy, there are some other food items that can be added to the restriction list.

1. Certain Types of Seafood

Uncooked items like oysters, sushi, sashimi, clams and scallops should be avoided. Swordfish and shark contain high levels of mercury. Also stay away from smoked or pickled fish that have not been pasteurized.

2. Uncooked Meat

Dried meat like salami which is not heated and cooked to a safe temperature should be avoided since the pathogens in it are probably not killed. Don't eat meat that has not been heated to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Raw or Runny Eggs

Items that contain raw eggs like mayonnaise, chocolate mousse and ice cream are better avoided. Every baker likes to sample cake batter or cookie dough whilst baking. This contains raw egg and potentially the salmonella bacteria.

4. Cheeses

Avoid eating any soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, like Brie and blue cheese.

5. Alcohol

Check that any beverage you consume does not contain alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause birth defects.

6. Other Foods and Drinks

Food that has been stored outside a refrigerator for longer than one hour like at a picnic or buffet, especially on a hot day should be avoided. Stay away from deli prepared salads that have been sitting out, especially if they contain any meat products. Don't eat unwashed fresh produce like cabbage or lettuce. Don't drink unpasteurized juices or milk products.