If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably been searching the “do and do not” lists of pregnancy. You may have run across advice to limit your caffeine intake, which for coffee addicts or cola fans seems like a daunting task.
While there is no official consensus on the satisfactory amount of caffeine allowed during pregnancy, your doctor might recommend limiting your caffeine intake to 200 mg a day – that’s roughly one 12 ounce cup of coffee per day. While curbing caffeine consumption may be difficult for some women, there are good reasons for limiting your caffeine intake during pregnancy.
Why Should You Limit Your Caffeine Intake?
As a stimulant, caffeine raises both your blood pressure and your heart rate, neither of which is recommended for mothers during pregnancy. However, caffeine can also affect the baby by traveling through the placenta and causing the baby’s heart rate to speed up too. While your metabolism can handle the caffeine and its effects on your body, your baby is still maturing and cannot completely metabolize it.
Also, as a stimulant caffeine affects your sleeping patterns and can similarly affect your baby’s sleeping routine in the later stages of pregnancy.
Another important aspect of caffeine is that it is a diuretic, or a substance that helps the body produce urine. If you’re not drinking enough water, any increase in the loss of bodily fluids can lead to dehydration. It’s especially vital for the mother to remain hydrated during pregnancy in order to maintain an appropriate level of amniotic fluid and reduce the chances of birth defects due to malnutrition.
For these reasons, many women avoid caffeine completely to prevent any caffeine-related risks or complications.
How Can You Reduce Your Caffeine Intake?
Decaffeinated options are one alternative for coffee or tea drinkers. While these still contain some caffeine, it’s in very small amounts that have little to no effect on the baby.
If you’re addicted to caffeine, withdrawals can be unpleasant. Try to drink a little less everyday to ease off caffeine gradually. One tip is to mix decaf and caffeinated coffee, then gradually increase the ratio of decaf over time. If you’re a tea drinker, try steeping your tea bag for less time. Steeping for one minute versus several can cut the amount of caffeine in half.
Remember, it’s never too soon to start! If you’re planning on getting pregnant soon, start reducing your caffeine intake now.
And if you live in the Gainesville or Lake City area, schedule an appointment with a compassionate care physician at one of our nearby office locations.