Many women are told by their doctors or midwives to limit their caffeine consumption while they are pregnant. Giving up that morning cup (or cups) of coffee may be a struggle for some pregnant women, and many question if it is really necessary to give up caffeine completely while they are pregnant.
The topic is a controversial one and the answer is still under debate. Some studies have shown a slightly higher risk of miscarriage with women who consume more than 300 mg of caffeine a day. Others have shown that babies born to women who consumed more than 500 mg of caffeine a day while pregnant had faster heart and breathing rates, and spent more time awake in the first few days after birth. However, the research is inconclusive and the amounts of caffeine generally used in the studies were vastly greater than what a normal person would consume on a daily basis. The most consistent finding with studies performed on caffeine consumption during pregnancy was a possible association with low birth weights. According to the March of Dimes, high caffeine consumption may slightly increase the risk of preterm labor or low birth weight; and in a fetus who is already experiencing difficulties, this slight increase could make all the difference.
Most experts agree that moderate caffeine consumption is probably safe for a healthy woman experiencing a normal pregnancy. However, decreasing or cutting out caffeine altogether will probably make you feel better because caffeine can cause or exacerbate many common pregnancy-related complaints. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can cause insomnia, nervousness, and headaches. It can contribute to heartburn because it stimulates the secretion of stomach acid, and it's a diuretic so it will enhance dehydration. It also causes your bones to lose calcium; and contains phenols which impede your body's ability to absorb iron, a nutrient many pregnant women are already lacking.
Coffee and tea are the most obvious culprits for caffeine, but it's also found in chocolate, some soft drinks (including several orange sodas and root beers), energy drinks, and some over-the-counter medications.
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