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. It’s so easy to make, naturally caffeine-free, and delicious! Just double brew the Rooibos vanilla tea bags, add steamed milk (you can make this on the stove and whisk to add air), and sweeten if desired. To garnish you can top with whipped cream & sprinkle cinnamon if you like!
Claire is a twenty-three year old nursing student at Arizona State University. She currently lives in Tempe, AZ with her dog Bella.
Research Study References:
Savitz, D.A., et al. Caffeine and Miscarriage Risk. Epidemiology, volume 19, number 1, January 2008, pages 55-62.
Weng, X., et al. Maternal Caffeine Consumption during Pregnancy and the Risk of Miscarriage: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published online, January 21, 2008.