Advertising
Advertising

Can Pregnant Women Drink Coffee?

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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.

More by this author

Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It Amazing Benefits Of Cucumber Water (+5 Refreshing Recipes) How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea How To Enjoy Green Tea By Reducing Caffeine In It 8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds You Shouldn’t Miss

Trending in Parenting

1 How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father 2 14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All 3 Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes 4 How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids) 5 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

Advertising

The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

Advertising

As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

Advertising

I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

Advertising

The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next