While pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation, it’s often considered a time of abstinence. Many women sigh as they faithfully give up their favorite foods and drinks, like sushi, wine, and coffee. But with the recent headlines circulating about the many health benefits of coffee, you may be wondering to yourself if your favorite brew could really be all that bad.
The burning question on many expectant mothers’ minds is this: How much coffee can I have, if any, during pregnancy?
Is It Safe to Drink Coffee During Your First Trimester and Beyond?
According to medical experts, the first four months of pregnancy are the most important time to monitor what you eat and drink, especially your caffeine intake. For new mothers-to-be, this can strike fear in the heart of the average woman. What if you drink too much coffee? What if you unknowingly harm your baby just because you wanted to have a cup of Joe? Yes, these are all valid concerns, but…
Abstinence isn’t always the best policy when it comes to coffee drinking during pregnancy. – tweet this
Just because you happen to be pregnant doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of some of the finer things in life. And just because you enjoy a moderate amount of coffee while pregnant doesn’t mean that something terrible will happen to your unborn baby. I am speaking from personal experience here as one pregnant coffee drinker to another.
To give yourself peace of mind, let’s dig a little deeper into some factual research surrounding coffee drinking during pregnancy, shall we?
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How to Wade Through the Research to Support Your Coffee Addiction During Pregnancy
If you do a quick Internet search, you’ll quickly find that caffeine is “bad” or a “no-no” while pregnant. But that can’t be the absolute truth across-the-board, can it? There are always two sides of a coin. Just because one medical website discourages caffeine during pregnancy doesn’t mean another site won’t have a second opinion.
But wait – you came here looking for cold, hard facts. Let’s break it down study by study to help you decide exactly how much coffee, if any, is acceptable to drink while you’re pregnant:
- BabyCenter.com: This is uber-popular baby website mentions a well-known 2008 study that revealed that women who drank 200 mg or more of caffeine each day doubled their risk of miscarriage compared to those who abstained. Nonetheless, a number of other studies did not find the same link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage.
BabyCenter also touches upon a Denmark study that revealed an increase in the risk of stillbirth by more than 50% for women who consumed 8 or more cups of coffee a day. However, most moderate coffee drinkers would agree that 8 cups of coffee a day is excessive, whether or not you are pregnant.
- Reuters Health: If you’re looking for a second opinion, here it is. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists went on to confirm that a cup of coffee a day throughout pregnancy isn’t likely to increase the risk of premature birth or miscarriage. This is the final answer provided for many conflicting studies that argue how caffeine consumption could cause potential pregnancy complications.
The baseline recommendation from the College’s Committee on Obstetric Practice advised 200 mg of caffeine a day, which is roughly the equivalent of a 12 ounce cup of Joe. Nonetheless, other outside sources of caffeine must be factored in, like caffeinated soda and tea.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics: Okay, okay, so maybe a cup of coffee a day won’t necessarily cause miscarriage, but how will it affect your baby’s development? This valid question was answered by The American Academy of Pediatrics to confirm that caffeine consumption during pregnancy won’t affect a child’s behavioral patterns later on in life.
In layman’s terms, drinking a cup of coffee while pregnant may help you to perk up and counteract pregnancy fatigue, but it won’t lead to hyperactivity in your child as they grow older.
- Coffee & Health: So far, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists hasn’t found a clear-cut relationship between caffeine consumption and delayed fetal growth. While some studies have suggested that a high amount of caffeine consumption could cause malformations or birth defects, there is very little supporting research to be found.
Several medical research papers didn’t find a link between coffee drinking during pregnancy and abnormal fetal facial development; another research paper could not find a positive association between caffeine consumption and spina bifida.
Based on all the studies listed above, it’s a lot to swallow (pun intended!) to determine how much caffeine you’re comfortable with drinking during pregnancy.
To help answer the question even further, the American Pregnancy Association cites that it isn’t necessary for a pregnant woman to abstain from caffeine altogether, unless it’s your personal preference.
Experts recommend moderate caffeine drinking that ranges from 150 mg to 300 mg a day without having any negative side effects on an unborn baby. Of course, it’s always recommended to consult with your doctor for any special instructions based on your medical history and personal needs during pregnancy.
For many tired mamas-to-be, this is excellent news! If you’re dragging your feet to make it through your workday while carrying a baby on board, you can safely and happily fill up your coffee cup without any guilt.
You can use the studies listed above to make a more educated decision about how much coffee you may drink beyond the first cup each day with supporting research to back you up.