Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy. Your diet consists of anything you put in your mouth, including vitamins, supplements, and everything you drink. If you’ve googled “Can pregnant women drink coffee,” you’re probably a coffee drinker, and you probably drink enough that you’re concerned about how much caffeine is safe during your pregnancy.
You’ll probably like the news we have for you, unless you tend to drink coffee from a bottomless cup throughout the day. In that case, we have some tips for you to help you cut down on the java.
The short answer is yes, you may drink coffee while you’re pregnant. But how much coffee can you can safely drink?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is a safe, moderate amount of coffee for healthy adults who have other good health habits. But if you’re pregnant, consuming 300 milligrams or more of caffeine each day may increase your risk of miscarriage. To be safe, the NIH recommends that you keep your caffeine intake to under 200 milligrams, or two 6-ounce cups of coffee, a day.
Caffeine travels into your baby’s bloodstream through the placenta. The effects it has on you can also affect the baby. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it slightly increases your blood pressure and heart rate. It reaches peak level in your bloodstream within about an hour, and it stays in your blood for between four and six hours.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means that it can make your body lose more water through urinating than it normally would. If you do drink coffee while you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to drink extra water throughout the day.
Pregnancy can intensify the effects of caffeine, making you more jittery and affecting your sleep, and coffee promotes the release of acid in your stomach, which can cause nausea or heartburn. If you’re experiencing any these symptoms, you may want to cut down on your coffee intake or remove it from your diet altogether.
Keep in mind that you may be getting caffeine from more sources than just your daily coffee. Some medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers, contain caffeine, as do many herbal products like yerba mate and green tea extract. Chocolate, soft drinks, and tea also contain caffeine. Depending on how much of these other substances you consume, you may need to further limit your daily coffee intake.
Reducing or stopping your coffee intake can produce symptoms of withdrawal, including headache, fatigue, muscle pain, and nausea. The more coffee you drink, the more intense these symptoms will likely be, and pregnancy can make them more intense. Symptoms of withdrawal usually start between 12 and 24 hours after the last cup of coffee and can last as long as nine days, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
To make quitting or cutting down as painless as possible, reduce your caffeine intake slowly, over a couple of weeks, to avoid the onset of withdrawal symptoms altogether. You can either drink less coffee and gradually replace your usual cup with a gentler morning beverage, or you can slowly make the transition from caffeinated coffee to decaf.
Drink plenty of water as you quit or cut down to keep you hydrated and feeling your best. If cutting down leaves you feeling cranky and tired, boost your energy and your mood with regular exercise, fresh air, and plenty of high-quality sleep.