If you like coffee, you’re not the only one. At least 83% of Americans drank coffee in 2013, according to a National Coffee Association online survey, and most coffee drinkers have at least one cup each day. According to a recent Zagat survey, 82% of people who drink coffee drink it daily. That adds up to a lot of coffee, but not everyone should make coffee an every day drink. For example, people with heart conditions or anxiety disorders may not be able to ingest much caffeine, and will want to either choose decaf or avoid coffee entirely.
Whether it’s safe to drink coffee during pregnancy is also a consideration. According to The Mayo Clinic, excessive caffeine should be avoided by pregnant women. Caffeine is both a diuretic and a stimulant, which raises heart rate and blood pressure. During pregnancy, women want to keep both of those values lower, so they don’t put their health – and the health of their unborn child – at risk. Urination is also increased when caffeine is consumed, and too much or too frequent urination by pregnant women can lead to them becoming dehydrated.
There are effects on the baby when mothers consume caffeine, as well. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can cross the placenta and raise the baby’s heart rate. Movement patterns and sleep patterns that would be normal for your baby may also be affected by caffeine, as a developing baby’s body is not set up to metabolize it the same way an adult would. Because caffeine can keep an adult awake, it may also keep a fetus awake, and that has the potential to affect growth and development.
Too much caffeine may also raise the miscarriage risk, but further studies are needed in that area in order to confirm or rule out that possibility. Many healthcare providers will recommend that a pregnant woman limit her caffeine intake to fewer than 200mg each day. Some want to see the number of milligrams below 300, while others feel that anything more than 150mgs is too much. There are around 95mgs of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup of coffee, with considerably fewer milligrams in the decaffeinated variety.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women may want to consider abstaining completely from coffee, because of the effects in can have on the mother and the unborn baby. Two studies from 2008 showed conflicting advice and information when it came to whether caffeine was safe for pregnant women and their fetuses. One study, in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, indicated that women could be twice as likely to miscarry if they consumed 200mgs of caffeine or more daily. Another study, in Epidemiology, showed no increased risk for women who consumed fewer than 350mgs of caffeine on a daily basis.
The bottom line for pregnant women who are coffee drinkers is to talk with their healthcare provider. That can help them understand any potential risks, and make the best choice for themselves and their unborn children when it comes to coffee consumption.