Can you drink coffee when you are pregnant

by Alex Chapman

Unfortunately the old age sentiment of 'eating or drinking for two' doesn't ring true when it comes to certain foods or drinks, like alcohol, raw meats and certain soft cheeses. Medical practitioners recommend that women adapt their diet and remove certain foods when they're expecting, in order to keep their growing bub safe.

But, what about coffee? The rules surrounding whether coffee can be consumed when pregnant aren't as clear cut as some other foods and beverages. Some health advice suggests that pregnant women can safely drink coffee, while others recommend avoiding it all together.

It's always best to go by your obstetricians and gynecologists advice, after all, they are the experts. But if you're looking for some general information surrounding the safety of drinking coffee while expecting, then read on.

Can pregnant women drink coffee?

As mentioned, your health care professional's advice reigns supreme when it comes to answering this question. Especially because each individual's circumstances may differ. However, recent studies have found that a limited amount of caffeine can be consumed safely by pregnant women.

But how much caffeine can you have? Australian guidelines stipulate that pregnant women should not consume more than 200mgs of caffeine per day. This is a little over three cups of coffee, each containing a single serving of espresso. To help you understand how much caffeine is in different types of drinks, we've put together the below guide.

  • Cappuccino- approximately 63mgs of caffeine.
  • Latte - approximately 63 mgs of caffeine.
  • Double shot latte - approximately 126 mgs of caffeine.
  • Long black -approximately 126 mgs of caffeine.
  • Espresso shot - approximately 126mgs of caffeine.
  • Decaf coffee - approximately 3mgs of caffeine.
  • Tea - approximately 11mgs of caffeine.
  • Instant Coffee - approximately 57 mgs of caffeine.
  • Soft drinks (365ml can of coke) - approximately 36.4mgs of caffeine.
  • Standard energy drinks (250ml) - approximately 80mg of caffeine.
  • Large energy drinks (473ml) - approximately 151mgs of caffeine.

While the above guide shows the varying amounts of caffeine in energy drinks, soft drinks and different kinds of coffee beans, it should be noted that some foods and medications can contain caffeine, too. Cold and flu medicine commonly has caffeine as an ingredient. Caffeine can also be found in chocolate.

What are the risks involved with drinking caffeinated beverages while pregnant?

During pregnancy, caffeine takes longer to clear the body than usual. As a general rule of thumb, considering that caffeine takes longer to leave the body in a pregnant woman, they should be consuming less of it.

When a baby is growing inside a women's body, it receives nutrients through the mother's umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is connected to the woman's placenta. All nutrients, oxygen and other forms of life support are delivered to the baby from the mother's blood through blood vessels in the umbilical cord.

When caffeine is consumed during pregnancy, it will also pass through the placenta to the baby. It's understood that this can be unhealthy for the developing baby.

Some studies have tied a very high level of caffeine intake by a mother to the miscarriage of the baby. However, at the moment there is limited information and research surrounding how growing babies are affected by caffeine. This is why it's suggested to keep intake at a low amount.

Caffeine is a stimulant, so when regular coffee - which contains caffeine - is consumed, energy levels surge as well as the consumer's heart rate and blood pressure. These two functions are both vital to the body's health and must be kept regular during pregnancy, and consuming coffee may put extra stress on the women's body and the baby.

Another study, that was conducted earlier this year, found that pregnant women who consume caffeinated coffee are more likely to have children with behavioral problems later in life. This study took brain scans of kids whose mothers consumed caffeine while they were pregnant. The scans showed changes in pathways that led to behavioral problems like attention difficulties and hyperactivity.

Research has found that too much caffeine can affect some pregnant women's ability to absorb iron. So if you're already low in iron or are iron deficient, it may be a good idea to steer completely clear of caffeinated coffee while pregnant.

Caffeine free Alternatives

While moderate caffeine consumption is considered acceptable by the Australian guidelines, some mums-to-be to be may want to try and cut their caffeine intake out completely. In this case, decaffeinated coffee is really popular. It has the same delicious taste of freshly brewed coffee, but with just a fraction of the caffeine.

Contrary to popular belief, decaffeinated coffee isn't actually completely caffeine-free, but it has far less caffeine than a regular cup. The standard for a coffee to be considered decaf is if 97% of the caffeine content is removed. This means that one cup of decaf coffee will have around 3mgs of caffeine in it - well below the Australian guidelines limit of 200mgs.

When it comes to decaf coffee, choices are often limited so it can be hard to find good quality decaffeinated coffee beans. At Glass House Mountain Coffee we have premium roasted Swiss Water Decaf, which boasts a sweet, fruity taste - making it the perfect light decaf choice.

Black tea is another option for women looking to limit caffeine during pregnancy. Black tea still has caffeine in it, but it's much less than a standard cup of coffee. A freshly brewed cup of black tea will have around 11mgs of caffeine, compared to a standard cappuccino, which has approximately 63 mgs.

Herbal products, like herbal teas and or botanical infusions, can fulfill the feeling of drinking freshly brewed coffee, minus the high caffeine consumption.

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