There’s of course this overwhelming joy and terror all at the same time;
I like to call it ‘joy-ror’ (what do you mean it won’t catch on?). It could be
morning sickness that’s making you nauseous or it could just be all the joy-ror.
Maybe you can calm yourself a little with a coffee. But now you remember –
isn’t there some rule about pregnant women and coffee?
You might not be newly pregnant; you might be well into your first or
second trimester and just heard that all that coffee you’ve been having might
not be so good for pregnant women and their babies. Or you might be trying to
conceive and wondering what affect caffeine is having on your chances. Whatever
led you to this article I will try to answer your questions and allay your
What are the hard and fast rules about coffee
This is a hard one to answer because medical experts still tend to be
split on this and so much is still unknown. Some caffeine may affect your baby;
but a certain amount may also be completely safe. Instead, let’s not talk rules
– let’s talk guidelines.
Stay aware of what you eat: The
idea of this article is to give you clear information and not stress you out at
the same time, because the next nine months are going to be stressful enough
without my help. In pregnancy there are a number of food and drinks and other
things you need to be wary about putting into your system, so you do need to
have a level of awareness that you haven’t had to apply much before. To learn about best foods to eat during pregnancy, read here.
Complete No-No’s: Some
things are a ‘complete no-no’ like smoking, soft cheese, cold preserved meats, and
cookie dough. Some things are in the ‘reduce a lot’ category like alcohol and
highly fatty and sugary foods. Some are in the more confusing ‘not in the first
trimester, but probably ok after that’ category like certain vitamins and
And while you might be thinking now that this tiny precious bundle is
going to take all the truly fun, indulgent things out of your life; you can
still have coffee.
What does coffee do to your pregnant system?
The caffeine in coffee (and tea and cola and most energy drinks) increases your heart rate, travels
through your liver and bloodstream, increases
your adrenaline and as a diuretic reduces
your body’s absorption of water.
Additionally your now-pregnant body does not process caffeine the same
way your babyless body did; consuming
coffee and caffeine products during pregnancy versus consuming prior to
pregnancy, the caffeine may:
Take longer to leave your system,
Affect your blood flow to the uterus,
Make you go to the toilet more often and,
Leave you more dehydrated.
Effects Caffeine has on the foetus
It theoretically has all of the same effects on your baby, but may
linger longer in the little one’s system because its liver isn’t big enough to
get rid of it quickly like yours does. Caffeine may reduce your baby’s birth weight and may be linked to premature birth and miscarriage. The reasons for premature
birth and miscarriage are so many and unfortunately can often never be
explained. If this happens to you it could have nothing whatsoever to do with
your caffeine intake while pregnant.
There are extensive studies done looking into this area (us pregnant
mum’s are reluctant to let our lattes go easily!) but at this stage the results
still appear to be conflicting and inconclusive.
How much caffeine is safe?
What experts are saying at this time is that they are unsure of what
caffeine can do to your baby, and how much is ok. It is recommended that you
try to consume less than 200mg of
caffeine a day just to be safe. I’ll talk
a little bit more below about what that means in real person language. It
doesn’t appear to have any conclusive effect on your ability to conceive
Some experts and extremely healthy people will recommend that you don’t
have any caffeine while you are pregnant, because it can have some effect on
the foetus, similar to the buzz or energy hit it gives you. In an ideal world
and if you can do that, fantastic.
But in the real world and if you’ve been consuming relatively high
amounts of caffeine to survive your life up until now, it is far better that
you try to reduce this intake. Aim instead for lower, more manageable levels
without sending your body or your mind into complete withdrawal.
Stress on the mother also affects the foetus, so aim first to be calm
and do what you can cope with.
What does sudden caffeine withdrawal do to your
Fortunately quitting coffee is not quite as hard as quitting crack
cocaine. If you try to go cold turkey your body will react angrily, most
commonly with headaches and migraines, body shakes, and changes to your mood
such as anxiety, irritability and depression. It will also temporarily affect
your cognition and ability to concentrate.
These symptoms generally don’t last more than a few days however. And you
don’t actually need to go cold turkey, you can just reduce your intake
gradually. Also if you have headaches that you can’t deal with you only usually
need a little touch of caffeine to make this go away again; you don’t need a
full on binge or to go straight back to your prior highly caffeinated levels.
What are the pros and cons of continuing to
drink coffee while pregnant?
There are both pros and cons to sticking with caffeine when you’re
pregnant. I have listed some below, but it might be more helpful for you to
make your own list. Coffee’s benefits to each woman are individual and varied,
as are the drawbacks of trying to go without.
may be more stable and reliable, which can help given that the pregnancy
hormones will be working against you to send you all kinds of loopy.
memory and concentration may be better, which again can be hard to regulate
once you’re body is more focussed on creating human life than what needs to go
on your shopping list.
be more awake and alert which can help you to continue to work when all
your fatigued body wants to do is sleep.
It can be
a nice, comforting familiar treat in a world suddenly turned upside down,
where your body is doing whatever it wants and all your favourite indulgences
have already been taken away from you.
the risk: Because of all the extremely hard work your body needs to be
going through right now, you should probably limit as much as possible the strange
chemicals you put into it, and fuel it as healthily as you can. Especially with
the kind of ‘possible’ complications of caffeine intake during pregnancy, is it
really worth the risk?
coffee-HIGH may not be too good for the baby: You know yourself the high
coffee can give you, and thinking about that you probably want to minimise that
effect on your tiny baby as much as you can.
A pregnant girl’s favourite word; moderation
If you need it, or if you want it, you can still have coffee while
You should try not to go over
200mg of caffeine a day. Recommended amounts are either one shot of
commercially made espresso, or three instant coffees, or four cups of tea.
Generally soft drink and energy drinks are not recommended at all
because of the sugar, and diet versions have this strange fake sugar which is
also not good for you, but the amount of caffeine in one or two of these a day
should not adversely harm your bub.
Try to reduce your levels to zero if you can. If you can’t, do your
very best, and breathe, and don’t be so hard on yourself since stress is
equally worse during pregnancy.
Just focus on what you can handle
Your baby needs you now to be the healthiest you that you can. Do not
compare yourself to the clean living, whole food eating, pregnant yoga
instructor who lives next door. You are different, your body is different and
your pregnancy will be different.
You may crave cheeseburgers in the middle of the night. You may end up
eating chalk (trust me – it happens). And you may very likely find that because
you have to keep living your life, working full-time, dealing with all existing
stress plus planning for a small person to come out of you and move permanently
into your house in a few months’ time; that you would feel better with a cup of
coffee now and then.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.