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Is It Safe to Drink Coffee During Pregnancy?

Women should consider giving up coffee in pregnancy. Though you may be hesitant to give up your morning cup of coffee, caffeine has been associated with a number of prenatal risks. When consumed in high doses, caffeine has even been linked with increased rates of miscarriage. The main concern with coffee is its caffeine content. If you regularly have more than 200mg of caffeine while you’re pregnant, you are more at risk of miscarriage or having a baby with a low birth weight.

Plus, as it does in adults, caffeine can increase a baby’s heart rate. Also, because a fetus’ immature liver can’t rid itself of the caffeine as quickly as an adult liver, the caffeine may remain in the fetus’ bloodstream longer, and at higher levels. A further caution is that caffeine has similar metabolic effects as the stress hormone adrenaline; both can theoretically reduce blood flow to the uterus. Recent studies have focused on the effects of coffee intake during pregnancy. A large-scale Danish study polled more than 80,000 pregnant women regarding their coffee intake. This study found that women who drank large amounts of coffee during pregnancy were more likely to experience a miscarriage. Women who drank more than 2 cups of coffee a day had a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, while those that drank 8 or more cups experienced a 59% increase. This is why it is so important to watch your caffeine intake during pregnancy.

Interestingly, this Danish study found that this considerably greater risk of miscarriage was specific to coffee. Other caffeinated beverages and foods did not present the same significant increase, leading researchers to believe that other chemicals contained in coffee could possibly play a role in causing miscarriage.

Besides being harmful for your developing baby, caffeine in coffee — at least in high doses — could be harmful to you. Research suggests that pregnant women detoxify caffeine at a slower rate while pregnant, allowing the caffeine to build up to higher levels in the bloodstream and remain in the system longer, compounding its effects. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect, which can increase the frequency of urination (increasing your already- frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom) and can possibly lead to dehydration. Also, it can lessen the absorption of iron from foods in your diet during pregnancy.

Just as quitting smoking and drinking can be difficult, it can also be hard to eliminate caffeine from your daily diet. After all, caffeine is an addictive drug. Here are some tips on how to reduce your caffeine intake and ensure that you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

• Cut back on your caffeine intake slowly. Going cold turkey can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms, like headaches and nausea.
• Try replacing your caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated ones, like decaf coffee.
• Exercise regularly to help combat any withdrawal symptoms and to stay energized.
• Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will help you manage cravings and fatigue.

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