It’s commonly said that when a woman gets pregnant, she must give up coffee. This is due to the caffeine content within a cup of coffee and the potential risks it could cause to the growing fetus. However, it’s not just coffee that has caffeine. Things like tea, chai, matcha, and even chocolate have quite a bit of caffeine. This might make you wonder why coffee is so commonly touted as an item that must be removed from a pregnancy diet while chocolates and teas are not discussed as much.
Similarly, according to Healthline, pregnant women are told not to eat raw fish, undercooked eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and cold-cut lunch meats. The critical thing to remember here is that each food or beverage restriction is based on risk factors and potential harm. Therefore, it is a good idea to look into the reasoning behind each of these restrictions in order to make informed decisions throughout your pregnancy. When it comes to morning coffee, there are some misconceptions that are worth clearing up.
Myth: Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy Will Cause A Miscarriage
This is a scary statement that may have caused you to remove all caffeine from your diet as soon as you got your positive pregnancy test. However, it’s not as cut-and-dry as it sounds. There is conflicting evidence about the risks of coffee and how much is actually safe during pregnancy.
According to Pen Medicine, low to moderate caffeine intake that’s within the daily recommended amount for pregnant women is not associated with increased risks such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or hypertension.
However, according to a new study from researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University, Columbus:
A woman is more likely to miscarry if she and her partner drink more than two caffeinated beverages a day during the weeks leading up to conception.
There is also some evidence that shows moderate daily caffeine intake during pregnancy may lead to smaller birth sizes. While drinking a cup of coffee in the morning during pregnancy is deemed relatively safe, there are also some concerning studies that may give some pregnant women pause.
Myth: Coffee Will Dehydrate You
It has been said many times that coffee is diuretic and that it will dehydrate you. However, as with most things that are controversial or heavily debated, it’s not the full truth. If you are choosing to drink coffee instead of water, there is a chance that you could have a slightly increased need to urinate. However, if you are drinking your normal amount of water that is recommended during pregnancy and adding a cup of coffee on top of that, it’s unlikely to cause dehydration and there is no evidence that shows an increased risk of dehydration.
According to the Mayo Clinic,
Drinking caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle doesn’t cause fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested.
Myth: Decaf Coffee Is Totally Safe
You may be thinking that regular coffee has caffeine and therefore, decaf coffee is totally safe. However, tracking your caffeine intake is really important during pregnancy, and it may not be as simple as you think. Not all coffee is created equal. For example, you could pour yourself a cup of coffee at home and estimate that it’s about 200mg of caffeine. However, if you go to Starbucks and order a venti iced Americano, there’s 300 mg of caffeine (which is more than the recommended amount during pregnancy).
Decaf coffee still has caffeine in it, there is just less of it. Typically, the decaffeination process is 80-95% effective. This means that if a grande Americano normally has 225 mg of caffeine in it, the decaf version could contain anywhere from 18-45 mg of caffeine. If you are pregnant and closely monitoring your caffeine content, you might want to err on the side of caution and include a higher amount of caffeine in your log to ensure you don’t go over your goal.
Beyond worrying about how coffee and its caffeine content is impacting your growing baby in your womb, there are also many other negative factors to consider when deciding whether to keep coffee in your diet. Some negative effects of coffee that are unrelated to pregnancy but good to keep in mind may include:
- Sleep problems/Insomnia
- Digestive issues
- Caffeine addiction/withdrawal
Two other negative side effects that also need to be taken into consideration while pregnant include increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
Fact: Water Does Not Counteract Coffee
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as other experts, it is safe for pregnant women to consume up to 200mg of caffeine a day. This typically equals out to one 12 oz cup of coffee. However, if a pregnant woman does choose to keep her morning cup of coffee in her diet, it is important to keep track of other sources of caffeine that could be sneaking into her diet as well.
Some people may think that if they drink a lot of water, then the effects of the caffeine will be diluted, however, this is not the case. It’s not possible to “flesh out” coffee from your system in order to drink more.
Fact: Limit Caffeine While Pregnant
While there may be some debate about how much caffeine is safe or what the best choice is for your pregnancy, it’s pretty widely accepted that caffeine intake should be limited while pregnant. According to American Pregnancy, caffeine should be limited during pregnancy because it is a stimulant that increases blood pressure and heart rate. Both of these effects are not recommended during pregnancy.
As with any decision that you’re making during pregnancy, it’s always best to talk to your doctor and discuss what is safe for your specific situation. While some coffee may be safe during pregnancy, some women may choose to give it up altogether. Either decision can result in a healthy and safe pregnancy so remember to do what’s right for you.
Sources: Healthline, ACOG, American Pregnancy, Mayo Clinic, Pen Medicine, National Institute of Health