Thursday, January 13, 2011

Caffeine and Pregnancy

What better way to get going in the morning than with a delicious cup of Joe!  However, if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you may need to find a new drink that doesn't contain the glorious stimulant we all know and love - caffeine!

Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby.  While we can usually handle the effects of this stimulant, our little one on board can't.  Your baby's metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully process the caffeine.  Even small amounts of caffeine can cause changes in your baby's sleep pattern and normal movement patterns in the later stages of pregnancy.  It also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy.  Many women find it hard to sleep during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so adding a stimulant may make getting much-needed sleep even harder.

We know that caffeine is not recommended during preconception and pregnancy, but decaffeinated coffees and teas should be avoided as well.  These beverages contain compounds called phenols that can make it hard for your body to absorb iron.  Many pregnant women are already low in iron and this can add to your deficiency.  If you do drink coffee or tea, it's best to have between meals and not with your prenatal vitamin.

The jury is still out on the amount of caffeine that is acceptable.  Some say 150 mg per day, others say 300 mg per day.  The best choice is to cut back on your intake as much as possible.  
Common sources of caffeine include:
* Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259 mg
* Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
* Diet Coke (12 oz) 47 mg
* Coca-Cola (12 oz) 35 mg
* Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
* Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
* Decaffeinated brewed coffee (8oz) 8-13mg (depending on brand)
Your doctor and/or midwife will offer additional advice on foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy.

Decaffeinated drinks (hot chocolate, cider, etc.) are a great option especially during these cold winter months.  Ask your local brew house for some decaf ideas too, you may be surprised at the wonderful yummy drinks that are available!

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