When we hear the word caffeine, we mostly think of coffee. It’s not by accident that the two are such linked, as caffeine got its name from coffee around 200 years ago. And drinking coffee has strong roots in almost every culture across the world.
We all have our daily routines and so many of us can’t imagine going through the day without a few cups of coffee. Particularly in the morning, the smell of a freshly brewed pot of coffee can set the right tone for the day.
What Is Caffeine?
Aside from being one of the most widely used ingredients around the world, caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant. It can be isolated from dozens of plants, but it can also be created synthetically. The synthetic kind is usually used for medications and different food products. Pure caffeine is a fairly bitter white powder.
What Does It Do?
When consumed through food or drink, caffeine goes from our gut directly into the bloodstream. After that, it’s broken down in the liver into several compounds. Since it is a stimulant, it has the strongest effect on the central nervous system.
Caffeine keeps our bodies in alert mode and helps us stay awake. It can also increase heart rate and blood pressure if you take too much of it. Tracking your caffeine intake can be somewhat complicated because it has become a staple ingredient in many prepackaged foods, over-the-counter medicine, and even kids’ snacks.
Caffeine and Pregnancy
So, if you’re pregnant, how much caffeine can you drink? There is much discussion around whether women should have any caffeine in their systems when they are pregnant. Caffeine impacts the part of our central nervous system that is in charge of our “fight or flight” response when we are under stress.
This means that drinking coffee, for example, can make your body more stressed. And more stress is harmful to fertility and pregnancy. In fact, it’s highly recommended for pregnant women and women who are planning to conceive to avoid stressful environments.
How Much Caffeine Is Allowed?
Despite the fear of potential harm to the fetus, experts agree that some amount of caffeine is perfectly fine. The consensus is that as long as a pregnant woman’s intake of caffeine stays bellow 200mg per day, it is within the harmless range. For some expecting mothers who have a sort of caffeine addiction, this could pose a problem. But, for the sake of a safe and comfortable pregnancy, you have to do everything you can, including giving up or cutting down on caffeinated drinks that you normally enjoy.
There is one important thing to keep in mind, though. They might be the most popular caffeinated drinks, but not every type of tea or coffee contains the same amount of caffeine. So, depending on your favorite coffee or tea, you’ll know how much you can have during the day. Here are the approximate caffeine contents per 1oz:
- Espresso: 64mg
- Instant coffee: 7mg
- Black tea: 6mg
And a pregnant woman needs to be especially careful with the caffeine that may lurk in different products. For example:
- Dark chocolate contains around 70mg per 100g
- Milk chocolate contains around 18mg per 100g
- Energy drinks contain 50-100mg per serving
Keeping track of your caffeine intake during pregnancy is very important. It has been reported that consuming 300mg per day of caffeine led to a 37% higher risk of miscarriage.
Caffeine and Placenta
Even if you are perfectly able to handle over 200mg of caffeine daily without having any effects on your body or your sleep pattern, it’s possible your baby might not handle it so well. Because caffeine can travel through the placenta and the baby is still unable to break down caffeine, this can interfere with its movement and normal sleep.
Maybe your relationship with caffeine can be loosely described as an addictive, which can be ultimately bad for you. Perhaps it’s the routine of sipping coffee with your co-workers and friends that connects you to it. And, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re pregnant and you’re still going well over the 200mg limit.
There are ways to help yourself without feeling like you’re giving up too much. Apart from drinking decaf coffee, here are some of the things that may replace caffeinated drinks:
- Herbal tea
- Sparkling Water
- Coconut Water
- Chicory Coffee
These caffeine-free beverages should give you a natural energy boost that’s more likely to sustain you throughout the day. Most importantly, they are not harmful in any way to your pregnancy.
Everything in Moderation
This might be a piece of sage advice regarding many things in life. And, if you find yourself pregnant – how much caffeine can you drink might be the question that pops into your head rather quickly.
Pregnancy is a very unique and special state when a woman feels extra vulnerable. There are things to be avoided completely, like smoking and alcohol. The same applies to rigorous exercise. But, caffeine doesn’t need to be your foe. If you’re confident that you can keep it below 200mg per day, the best thing you can do is to enjoy it without overthinking it.
To Be on the Safe Side
Some women are more susceptible to the negative effects of caffeine. If you want to be absolutely sure, then your best course of action would be to avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks altogether. This might prove to be harder than it sounds because caffeine withdrawal can sometimes be unpleasant. You might experience:
- Low Energy
- Digestive Issues
The important thing to remember is that not everybody experiences caffeine withdrawal, and even so, all those symptoms will clear out within a weak. You might occasionally be triggered by the smell of freshly roasted or brewed coffee, but that will be temporary.