From the minute we discover we are expecting a baby, we are repeatedly told all about the foods we should avoid during pregnancy in order to keep our baby safe. At times when juggling early pregnancy symptoms, morning sickness and nausea and with your energy levels flagging, it can be all too tempting to reach for a strong coffee to get you through the day – but is it wise? Is caffeine safe during pregnancy or should you be cutting back?
During pregnancy, it is recommended that you only consume a maximum of 200 milligrams of caffeine a day and there are a few reasons for this. It has been proven that caffeine can cross the placenta and as such, too much caffeine can increase the risk of pregnancy complications including risk of miscarriage or even in extreme circumstances pregnancy loss.
Too much caffeine during pregnancy could also cause other physical side effects such as the shakes or jitters, more frequent or sudden bowel movements and digestion problems such as exacerbating heartburn and reflux.
Too much caffeine can also reduce your body’s ability to absorb iron – something which is very could lead to iron deficient anaemia – actually leaving you even more tired and the polar opposite of what you were trying to achieve!
Shall I go cold turkey?
So, what should you do if you are a regular caffeine drinker? How will you cope without your frequent cans of soda or a coffee to kick start the day?
If you need to reduce your caffeine intake during pregnancy, it is recommended you do so slowly. Going cold turkey will not be a pleasant experience – with some people experiencing extreme side effects such as headaches, lethargy and even flu like symptoms – which on top of pregnancy symptoms could be challenging.
Instead of cutting caffeine out altogether, you may want to try and cut down the quantity you consume and make switches to caffeine-free alternatives. This can help you enjoy the occasional caffeine in moderation within the safe amounts, as part of a balanced diet.
How can I switch from caffeine?
To reduce the amount of caffeine you are consuming, look to switch to decaffeinated or caffeine free alternatives instead – perhaps switching every other drink for a caffeine free version to reduce your overall intake throughout the day.
If you are a big soda drinker, why not switch the odd can for a sparkling water or tonic instead, which will still provide the familiar fizz and bubbles you are used to. Be conscious of the amount of sugar you are consuming too, as this could lead to energy crashes later in the day.
To combat any symptoms of reducing your caffeine intake, aim to eat little and often throughout the day to keep your blood sugars and energy levels high. This will also help with any nausea or sickness you may be experiencing.
If you find you’re unable to eat a diet as varied as you would like, ensure you are taking a Prenatal vitamin to support with any nutrients your body might be lacking.
Finally, ensure you get lots of sleep – opting for an early night occasionally throughout the week to prevent the exhaustion that may otherwise leave you seriously craving the caffeine.