What is a 'safe' amount of caffeine during pregnancy? It depends upon which health organization you ask. Caffeine is a drug. It's a stimulant, and as such, it does not come without risks. Caffeine readily crosses the placenta and is found in the urine and blood of your unborn baby. To confound the problem, an unborn baby has a lower level of the enzymes used to metabolize caffeine. In a healthy woman, it takes 2.5 - 4.5 hours for the body to metabolize and eliminate half the caffeine consumed (half-life). During the second and third trimesters this increases to 10.5 hours.
Most organizations recommend limiting caffeine intake to less than 300mg per day. An 8 ounce cup of coffee contains 179 mg. Please remember that very few coffee mugs or Starbucks cups are only 8 ounces. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, and some sodas.
Since caffeine offers no nutritional value, we suggest replacing caffeinated beverages with herbal teas, hot cocoa, or warm almond milk. If the average life expectancy of a person is approximately 76 years, 9 months is a very short period of time (to make the change to avoid caffeine) that will benefit your baby for a lifetime.
To learn more about how caffeine can affect you and your pregnancy, visit our references:
Monti, Davorka: Is caffeine in pregnancy giving you the jitters?, International Journal of Childbirth Education, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p16-17, March 2007.
Written by Alisa Copeland