Caffeine During Pregnancy
Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate and cocoa. It is also added to soft-drinks, over the counter drugs, stay-awake medications and allergy medications. Research has failed to find any conclusive links between caffeine and miscarriage or poor fetal growth, birth defects and the normal development of children. However, there are reasons to reduce or limit your caffeine intake during pregnancy.
First, caffeine decreases the amount of calcium available to you and your baby, which could put you and your baby at risk. Secondly, caffeine causes an increased production of stress hormones, which act to lessen the availability of oxygen and nutrients available to your baby. Third, babies whose mothers use large amounts of caffeine risk having heartbeat irregularities directly related to the caffeine use--when the caffeine use stops the heartbeat returns to normal. In addition, the physiology of your pregnant body changes, so caffeine is eliminated more slowly from your body than when you were not pregnant. Caffeine readily crosses the placenta and enters your baby's circulation.
If you decide to limit your caffeine intake, try to keep your intake under 200 mg per day. A 5 ounce serving of coffee has an average of 100 mg of caffeine, while a 5 ounce serving of tea averages between 50 mg. Both drinks come available in caffeine free varieties you can experiment with to find the flavors you like best. Next, consider soft drinks, which average about 36 mg of caffeine in a 12 ounce serving. Milk chocolate and cocoa have about 5 mg per serving, semisweet chocolate (the most popular kind for chocolate chip cookies) averages 20 mg per 1 once.