Is Caffeine During Pregnancy Harmful?

Pregnant but still craving your caffeine fix? A new study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology may help dissuade you from reaching for a second cup of coffee. It finally answers the question of how much is too much caffeine during pregnancy.

First of all, let’s discuss why caffeine may be harmful to a developing fetus. Caffeine does cross the placenta, from mother to baby, constricts blood vessels and can inhibit blood flow. The fetus can metabolize small amounts of caffeine but very slowly which can cause a caffeine build up to dangerous levels. There is also a consensus that caffeine may affect cell development and cause birth defects. Coffee and teas contain phenols which can make it harder for your body to absorb iron.

In this new report done by Kaiser Permanente, 1000 women over two years were studied while they were pregnant. They found that over 200mg of caffeine daily doubled the chance of miscarriage. Two small cups of coffee are generally regarded as about 200mg but this is where it can get tricky to track daily caffeine consumption. The amount of caffeine in the coffee beans them-selves varies widely. Caffeine can also be found in a large variety of products from pain relievers to chocolate to sodas. Coffee ice cream and frozen yogurt can even contain significant amounts. Hot cocoa can have as much as 13mg and energy drinks can contain a whopping 71mg. Also, be careful of a substance called guarana whose seeds contain large amounts of caffeine. Two to four 12 oz sodas depending on brand (regular or diet) or 4 cups of tea can put you at the recommended limit of 200mg.

Here’s a list of caffeine amounts in every day products:

  • Chocolate bar 30mg
  • Stay-awake pill 100mg
  • Vivarin 200mg
  • Cold relief tablet 30mg
  • 2 small cups of coffee ( 7 ounces )
  • Drip 115-175mg
  • Brewed 80-135mg
  • Espresso 100mg of caffeine 1 serving (1.5-2oz)
  • Baking Chocolate, unsweetened, Bakers–1 oz(28 g) 25mg
  • semi-sweet, Bakers — 1 oz (28 g) 13mg

  • Choc chips Bakers — 1/4 cup (43 g) 13mg
  • Chocolate bar, Cadbury — 1 oz (28 g) 15mg
  • Chocolate milk 8oz 8mg
  • Jello Pudding Pops, Choc (47 g) 2mg
  • Choc mousse from Jell-O mix (95 g) 6mg
  • Jello choc fudge mousse (86 g) 12mg
  • 3 Heaping teaspoons of choc powder mix 8mg
  • 2 Tablespoons choc syrup 5mg
  • 1 Envelope hot cocoa mix 5mg
  • ensure, plus, choc, Ross Labs — 8 oz (259 g) 10mg

If you find yourself battling fatigue after cutting back on your caffeine consumption, don’t fight it – go ahead and take that nap. Pregnant women need more sleep. Taking a shower, stretching or even a glass of fruit juice may help to energize you. Herbal teas may help soothe other caffeine withdrawal symptoms.