First things first, if you’re pregnant, I’m not going to tell you to give up caffeine altogether! Did I just hear a collective sigh of relief? While you don’t have to give it up completely, it is a good idea to take stock of the various sources of caffeine in your diet and to limit your intake. The March of Dimes recommends no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day which is about the amount in a 12 ounce cup of regular coffee (that’s a “Tall” cup for you Sbux lovers out there!) I wrote about caffeine consumption in kids a couple months ago and thought it would be helpful to resurface the table of caffeine in beverages and foods since you won’t find it listed quantitatively on the Nutrition Facts panel.
Caffeine in Popular Foods & Drinks
|1 oz. milk chocolate||6|
|12 oz. brewed black tea||15-60|
|1 oz. dark chocolate||20|
|12 oz. cola||30-35|
|8 oz. energy drink||50-80|
|8 oz. coffee||95-200|
The issue with caffeine is this — caffeine is a stimulant drug – although people don’t often think of it that way. Caffeine can raise your blood pressure and heart rate, it is a diuretic which means it can increase urine output and it can cause indigestion in some people as well. You may already be making more frequent trips to the bathroom and heartburn may be rearing its ugly head, so perhaps those symptoms alone have you rethinking your caffeine consumption!
Caffeine does pass through the placenta and on to your baby, so it can impact your baby in the same ways that it impacts you. Some studies have shown that caffeine consumption of more than 200 mg per day is linked with increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, but other research has been inconclusive. One theory behind these findings is that caffeine consumption causes decreased blood flow to the placenta, a condition known as placental insufficiency that has been liked with various, sometimes tragic, forms of fetal distress.
As your pregnancy progresses it becomes more difficult for your body to process and clear caffeine in your system. By the time you are in your third trimester it can take three times as long to clear caffeine from your system and you’ll be feeling the effects (even the unwelcome ones) for that much longer.
Tips to Curb Caffeine Consumption
I chatted with some friends to help compile this list because, I have to admit, I’m about as far from a caffeine-junkie as you can be. I’ve never acquired a taste for coffee (gasp, I know!) and I rarely drink soda because, pregnant or not, it makes me so burpy!
- No Cold Turkey – If you are a heavy caffeine consumer and you’ve tried to give it up in the past, you know that quitting cold turkey can lead to nasty headaches and other symptoms of withdrawal (caffeine is a drug after all). Try stepping back a cup at a time every other or every third day.
- Go Half Caf – I never really understood decaffeinated coffee, but some people (my mom included) drink it every day and their day just isn’t the same without it. For some people, just going through the motions of drinking a hot beverage in the morning is enough to jump start your day.
- Try Tea – Tea has less than half the amount of caffeine that coffee does so you could try a cup of tea instead of a second cup of coffee. When it comes caffeine in tea, the lighter the leaf, the less the caffeine. So, if you start your day with a cup of black tea, consider switching to green or white tea as the day goes on.
- Don’t Forget About Medications – Some medications include caffeine in the ingredient list. You may already be aware that certain medications are not recommended during pregnancy, so it is important to discuss any medications you are taking (including over the counter ones) with your care provider.