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Caffeine During Pregnancy?

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There is controversial information about the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy. Is it okay or not? The March of Dimes recommends women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day (200 milligrams is often equal to 12 ounces of coffee). Others rule on the side of caution and have zero tolerance.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published an article in January 2008 regarding caffeine consumption and the risk of miscarriage. Research showed women consuming 200 mg or more of caffeine daily were twice as likely to have a miscarriage than women who consumed no caffeine (25 vs. 12.5 percent). On the contrary, in that same year the scientific journal, Epidemiology, published a similar research article showing no increased risk in women consuming moderate amounts of caffeine (200-350 mg per day). Despite the possible controversy, is it worth the risk?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant and diuretic found in foods and beverages (common finds: coffee, teas, sodas, chocolates). According to the American Pregnancy Association, the stimulant part of caffeine not only gives an energy boost, but also raises blood pressure and heart rate (both not recommended during pregnancy). Also, the diuretic side of caffeine stimulates urination and the loss of body fluids (ultimately threatening dehydration, another pregnancy no no).

If you are concerned about your caffeine intake, here is a list of common caffeine estimates:

Coffee: Brewed, drip 8 oz cup: 140mg (Starbucks Grande cup: 400 mg)
Teas: Brewed Green or Black 8 oz cup: 40-50 mg
Soda: 12 oz can: 37 mg
Dark chocolate bar: 1.45 oz bar: 30 mg

Sometimes it’s the morning ritual that is the hardest to break, like waking up and having a cup of coffee or latte to get the day started. Great caffeine-free alternatives include herbal teas or even tea lattes. They are easy to make at home and you can experiment with tons of different varieties of tea leaves (each having its own natural health benefits, vitamins, and antioxidants). A personal favorite is a Rooibos vanilla tea latte.

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I've also been researching tea and pregnancy, and I find this to be a very balanced article...it fits a lot with what I've read.

At RateTea.net we've been working on an article on tea and pregnancy, in which we discuss some of these issues--focusing on issues most relevant to tea drinkers.

I also love Rooibos, especially green rooibos. It is a great option for a tea-like beverage that is caffeine free. There are also some other health benefits of rooibos, beyond just antioxidants (something that tea also has). In particular, it shows some promise for fighting respiratory ailments such as asthma.

There are a lot of great caffeine-free teas out there, but it's also important to be cautious. Some herbs, including ones commonly used in beverage teas, can have powerful medicinal properties, and there are a few, including tulsi / holy basil, and chamomile, that are common ingredients in herbal teas, but that some authors have recommended be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. When in doubt, it's always best to do your research and consult a medical professional.

And also remember the key issue here: moderation! Most things are safe in a small enough quantity, but too much of anything is probably not going to be very good for you! This is true whether you are pregnant or not, but pregnant women need to be extra cautious because of the delicate nature of a human fetus and the fact that many chemicals are able to cross through the placenta and enter the bloodstream of the fetus.

August 2, 2010 - 9:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.