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Caffeine During and After Pregnancy: Is it Safe?


WRITTEN BY:
Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Whether you prefer coffee, tea, chocolate, colas, or energy drinks, chances are you rely on caffeine to energize you in the morning or keep you going during the day. So what should you do if you’re planning a pregnancy, expecting, or breastfeeding your newborn? As an expectant mother, your body will go through a number of changes. How does caffeine play a role in these changes and can caffeine affect you and your pregnancy? Should moms-to-be and new mothers eliminate caffeine from their diet completely?

Hyagriv Simhan, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, says you don’t need to cut out caffeine entirely — but it’s best for mother and child to cut back.

“We know it crosses through the placenta and reaches the baby. We also know caffeine can increase blood pressure in pregnant women,” says Dr. Simhan, an expert in premature labor and birth.

Some studies suggest a link between heavy caffeine use and first trimester miscarriages, while other studies say that’s not true.

Most experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes, recommend pregnant women limit caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day. That’s the amount of caffeine in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Women planning a pregnancy should cut back on caffeine before they start trying, adds Dr. Simhan.

New moms, including those who are breastfeeding, should limit caffeine to two cups of coffee, or 24 ounces. “It’s important for new moms to get eight hours of sleep. Caffeine can interfere with maternal sleep. It also gets into breast milk, which can result in irritability and trouble sleeping in infants,” he says.

How Much Caffeine?

  • Brewed coffee (8 oz) 137 mg
  • Instant coffee (8 oz) 76 mg
  • Brewed tea (8 oz) 48 mg
  • Instant tea (8 oz) 26 to 36 mg
  • Caffeinated soft drinks (12 oz) 37 mg
  • Chocolate milk (8 oz) 5-8 mg
  • Dark chocolate (1.45 oz) 30 mg
  • Milk chocolate (1.55 oz) 11 mg
  • Semisweet chocolate (1/4 cup) 26-28 mg
  • Chocolate syrup (1 tbsp) 3 mg
  • Coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt (1/2 cup) 2 mg

If you’re an expectant mother or a new mom, how much caffeine did you consume before getting pregnant? If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy and have questions about your caffeine consumption, visit the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC online or call 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433 to schedule an appointment.

Sources: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; U.S. Department of Agriculture