How Much Caffeine is Safe for Pregnancy?

Health & Wellness on 11.16.12
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Most people, including me, love their morning coffee ritual.  However, drinking too much caffeine during pregnancy can be risky.  Before I became pregnant, I used to drink 3-4 cups of coffee throughout the day, but I knew this had to change before conception because some studies show that caffeine can be linked to infertility

Caffeine is a stimulant that slightly increases blood pressure and heart rate. It can cross the placenta and affect fetal heart rates and breathing. It is unknown if these increases can hurt the baby.  Although most experts agree that small amounts of caffeine are safe, higher amounts have been linked to increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight. or stillborn.

So how much caffeine is too much?  There is no correct answer because there is contradictory advice. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that it is safe to drink up to 300mg per day.  This is equal to about 2 cups of coffee. (Remember a coffee mug is bigger than 1 cup) However, the American Pregnancy Association recommends to avoid it altogether.  I recommend about 200 mg a day, which equals a cup and a half of coffee.  Also, I do not recommend you quit cold turkey because it may cause headaches. Phase it out slowly over several days or weeks.

Breastfeeding moms can consume caffeine, but it does enter the breast milk. So drinking more than two 8oz cups of coffee a day (or the equivalent amount from foods) can cause baby to become sleepless and irritable. I know that after the birth of my second baby, I really needed a little caffeine so I could keep up with my toddler, but found that just one cup helped me make it through the day.

Caffeine in Common Foods and Beverages

Generic Brewed Coffee 8 oz- 135 mg
Starbucks Brewed Coffee 16 oz- 330 mg
Double Shot of Espresso- 225 mg
Generic Decaf Coffee 8 oz- 5 mg
Black Tea 8 oz- 47 mg
Lemon Snapple 16 oz- 42 mg
Green Tea 8 oz- 25 mg
Coke 12 oz- 35 mg
Mountain Dew 12 oz- 54 mg
7 Up 12 oz- 0mg
Hot Chocolate 8 oz- 5 mg
Hersey's Chocolate Bar 1.55 oz- 9 mg
Chocolate Brownies 1.5 oz- 10 mg

Mocha Java Smoothie

(from Expect the Best by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD)
This smoothie has the amazing taste of coffee, but not the caffeine.  It is also high is Vitamin D and calcium.

1 tsp. decaf instant coffee granules
1 TBSP. warm water
1 cup low fat milk
2 TBSP. fat-free chocolate syrup
1 ice cube
In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee in the warm water, then place in a blender. Add milk, chocolate syrup, and ice.  Blend for 1-2 minutes, drink, and enjoy.

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