In 1980 the FDA released a publication that warned against a pregnant woman drinking caffeine beverages. It recommended that a woman restrict or better yet, eliminate all caffeine intake because it could be directly linked to the potential for certain birth defects. This recommendation stood strong even in 1994 when a review of more than 200 medical journals conducted by Dr. Astrid Nehlig was published in the Journal of Neurotoxicology and Teratology. But what’s the recommendation today?
Currently many doctors recommend that a pregnant woman takes in less than 300 mg of caffeine daily. This is because studies that are more recent have not shown a link between caffeine and harm to the baby with an intake that is less than 300 mg. These new scientific studies are causing doctors to have a look at the results and many are changing their recommendations although some still remain very conservative. This is best discussed openly with your doctor.
What Caffeine Does
Caffeine is a stimulant that stimulates the central nervous system. It also reduces your iron absorption and it leaches calcium from the body. Caffeine has a diuretic effect and it has the ability to cross the placenta and make its way to your baby. Caffeine does the following once it is in your body:
- Decreases the amount of calcium in your body
- Dehydrates you
- Increases your blood pressure
- Raises your heart rate
The same thing that happens to you happens to your baby with the one exception and that is that baby will steal calcium that it needs from your bones if it can’t get it elsewhere. Caffeine has also been linked to interfering with normal fetal growth and as a result this leads to low birth weight and weakened adrenal glands that can affect the ability to cope with stress and to regulate blood sugar
It is a good idea to avoid caffeine or at least cut back your intake to 300 mg per day, and some experts say that number should be no more than 150 mg per day. You may have no problem handling caffeine but remember that the liver of your baby is immature and so it is not able to remove the caffeine. This means that caffeine stays with your baby for 40 to 130 hours.
Common sources of caffeine include:
- Coffee - 100-200 mg per 8 ounce
- Headache medicine - 65-130mg
- Soda - 40-75mg per can
- Tea - black 60mg, green 40mg
- Dark Chocolate - 5-35mg per 1 ounce
- Milk Chocolate - 1-15mg per 1 ounce
Talk to your doctor about caffeine intake and follow what his/her recommendations are.