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Can Pregnant Women Drink Coffee?

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Can Pregnant Women Drink Coffee?

Pregnancy makes you tired — and let’s face it, it’s tempting to try to rev yourself up with a cup of java if you feel like you are really dragging!  Before you reach for that next latte, though, you’d better read on to find out about the great caffeine debate — and whether or not it is dangerous for pregnant women to drink up.

The Debate Goes On

The debate over the use of caffeine during pregnancy is nothing new — doctors have actually be arguing about it for decades and have issued warnings about it going back to the 1970s. But even after decades of research, much remains unclear. There is evidence to show, for instance that women who are trying to get pregnant should not be slugging down cappuccinos right and left. And because some studies have linked excessive caffeine to bad outcomes for the baby, the March of Dimes — one of America’s leading organizations that promotes the health of unborn babies — recommends that, to be on the safe side, women limit their caffeine intake to around 200mg a day.

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The Argument Against Caffeine During Pregnancy

While some coffee addicts will groan to hear this, there really is serious clinical evidence to show that high levels of caffeine really are bad for baby.

  • In one, highly publicized study which was published in the British Medical Journal in 2008, it was found that women who regularly consumed more than 200mg of caffeine daily doubled their risk for miscarriage.
  • In another study in Denmark, where coffee consumption among women is considered to be higher than average, researchers discovered that women who consumed 8 or more cups of coffee a day also doubled their risk for stillbirths.
  • Yet another study found that consumption of over 500mg of caffeine daily lead to an adverse effect on fetal heart rate and respiration; it also found that these infants had more problems getting to sleep in the first few days of life.

These studies have focused in on the negative effects that caffeine can have on the baby. But it can have an effect on the mother as well. Research has found another problem with a caffeine: it makes it harder for a woman’s body to absorb iron, which she desperately needs when she is pregnant, both for herself and her baby. A decrease in the ability to absorb iron can easily lead to anemia, which is dangerous for pregnant women. Caffeine can also increase the mother’s heart rate and cause jitteriness and insomnia.

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The Other Side of the Coin

They call the debate over caffeine in pregnancy a controversy for a reason. For one thing, evidence over the years has sometimes been conflicted and though the 2008 study got a lot of media attention, other studies which looked at caffeine in pregnancy did not find a relationship between caffeine usage and miscarriage. It should also be pointed out that the link between caffeine and low birth weight is inconclusive at best and that there is no link between caffeine and premature birth or adverse maternal conditions like gestational high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia.

It is this evidence that has lead many to argue that caffeine does not pose as much of a health threat as many women seem to think.

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Even a position statement issued by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a little ambivalent. In this statement, based on the latest evidence, the committee concluded:

  1. Caffeine consumption of under 200mg a day has not been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth or other adverse fetal outcomes.
  2. The relationship between caffeine consumption and fetal growth has yet to be proven either way.
  3. Further evidence is needed to determine if high levels of caffeine consumption are a risk factor for miscarriage.

The Best Ways to Cut Down on Caffeine if You’re Pregnant

If you are pregnant and have decided to at least cut down on your caffeine consumption, you might be wondering just how to go about doing this. Here are some tips to help you out:

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  • Don’t stop caffeine all at once. Getting cut off from the daily supply of java can be really stressful for your body — and lead to some pretty epic headaches. If you are wanting to cut down, do it gradually by adding some decaffeinated coffee to the regular coffee when you brew it up, or simply making the coffee a little weaker.
  • Consider switching to teas like green teas which have less caffeine — and offer a great array of antioxidants for you and your baby.
  • Read the labels on the foods and drinks you buy. It’s not just coffee that you have to worry about! Non-herbal teas, soft drinks, energy drinks, some medications and chocolate in any form has caffeine as well — and it can really add up! An 8-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee, for example, has around 95-200mg of caffeine, while a cup of green tea has 75 mg and just one ounce of dark chocolate has 23mg. If you are trying for a 200mg/day limit, that can add up in a hurry if you don’t keep track!
  • Don’t start drinking any herbal teas until you talk to your ob-gyn first. Some teas such as ginger tea are great for pregnancy as they can help with motion sickness – but some can be bad for your growing baby. Always make sure before you buy.
  • Make sure that you are drinking an adequate amount of water everyday and not replacing water with coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages. Staying hydrated while you are pregnant is extremely important for the health of the baby.

So can pregnant women drink coffee? The safest answer is probably yes — in moderation. The restriction should be considered to be part of a wider plan for good nutrition during pregnancy, which should include plenty of water as the main beverage as well as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy and whole grain products. So far, clinical evidence has not shown consumption under 200mg a day to be unsafe for an unborn baby, so women following the March of Dimes recommendation can be somewhat assured that this habit will not have an adverse impact on their growing child.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

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How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

Children are most likely to say that they want to just lounge around or rest for a while after spending hours listening to lecture after lecture from their teachers. There is nothing wrong with this if they had a rough day.

What’s disturbing, is if they deliberately stay away from schoolwork or procrastinate when it comes to reviewing for their tests or completing an important science project.

When it seems that it is becoming a habit for your child to put off school work, it’s time for you to step in and help your child develop good study habits to get better grades. It is important for you to emphasize to your child the importance of setting priorities early in life. Don’t wait for them to flunk their tests, or worse, fail in their subjects before you talk to them about it.

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You can help your children hurdle their tests with these 7 tips:

1. Help them set targets

Ask your child what they want to achieve for that particular school year. Tell them to set a specific goal or target. If they say, “I want to get better grades,” tell them to be more specific. It will be better if they say they want to get a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Having a definite target will make it easier for them to undertake a series of actions to achieve their goals, instead of just “shooting for the moon.”

2. Preparation is key

At the start of the school year, teachers provide an outline of a subject’s scope along with a reading list and other course requirements. Make sure that your child has all the materials they need for these course requirements. Having these materials on hand will make sure that your child will have no reason to procrastinate and give them the opportunity to study in advance.

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3. Teach them to mark important dates

You may opt to give them a small notebook where they can jot down important dates or a planner that has dates where they can list their schedule. Ask them to show this to you so you can give them “gentle reminders” to block off the whole week before the dates of an exam. During this week, advise your child to not schedule any social activity so they can concentrate on studying.

4. Schedule regular study time

Encourage your child to set aside at least two hours every day to go through their lessons. This will help them remember the lectures for the day and understand the concepts they were taught. They should be encouraged to spend more time on subjects or concepts that they do not understand.

5. Get help

Some kids find it hard to digest or absorb mathematical or scientific concepts. Ask your child if they are having difficulties with their subjects and if they would like to seek the help of a tutor. There is nothing wrong in asking for the assistance of a tutor who can explain complex subjects.

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6. Schedule some “downtime”

Your child needs to relax from time to time. During his break, you can consider bringing your child to the nearest mall or grocery store and get them a treat. You may play board games with them during their downtime. The idea is to take his mind off studying for a limited period of time.

7. Reward your child

If your child achieves their goals for the school year, you may give them a reward such as buying them the gadget they have always wanted or allowing them to vacation wherever they want. By doing this, you are telling your child that hard work does pay off.

Conclusion

You need to take the time to monitor your child’s performance in school. Your guidance is essential to helping your child realize the need to prioritize their school activities. As a parent, your ultimate goal is to expose your child to habits that will lay down the groundwork for their future success.

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Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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