Coffee is an indispensable life of many people. However, high levels of caffeine in this drink can be a problem for pregnant women. Many people turn to decaf options to reduce the risk, but is it really safe? Can you drink decaf coffee when pregnant? Read on to learn more and protect your baby.
How does caffeine affect the fetus?
The effects of caffeine on fetuses are still unclear. However, some studies have shown that very high caffeine intake can increase the risk of pregnancy loss.
As a stimulant, caffeine can quickly pass through the body, including your placenta. During pregnancy, it can take longer to process this substance. Thus, it might have a few side effects on the overall growth of the baby. There is a possible link between restricted fetal development and miscarriage with high consumption of caffeine.
How does caffeine affect pregnant women?
Pregnant women might have different responses to caffeine. Somebody can tolerate a high intake without health issues, while others can be sensitive to even one cup.
Consuming too much caffeine is associated with the ability of the body to absorb iron. This would increase the risk of anaemia and iron deficiency. Typical symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, irregular heartbeats, and cold hand or feet.
Caffeine can also increase heart rate and blood pressure. Both of these conditions are not good for women during pregnancy. Another problem with high caffeine intake is dehydration. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it would lead to a loss of fluids in the body through frequent urination.
Due to all of these harmful effects on both the fetus and mother, it is advisable to reduce caffeine intake when you are pregnant. And decaf coffee seems to be a good solution.
Can pregnant women drink decaf coffee?
Decaf coffee has at least 97 per cent of the caffeine content removed. Therefore, it can be a safer option for pregnant women who want to enjoy the taste and aroma of coffee.
However, keep in mind that it still contains a small amount of caffeine. A typical cup of decaf coffee has anywhere between 2 and 5 milligrams of the substance.
Most experts and scientists recommend that pregnant women should not consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine on a daily basis. This can be equivalent to 1 or 2 cups per day. But keep in mind that each person has a different tolerance to caffeine. Therefore, it is better to consult your healthcare provider to figure out the right intake.
The caffeine content in each decaf product is not the same. This depends on the types of coffee beans, decaffeination process, and brewing method. Therefore, make sure to read the nutritional data and labels before purchasing.
Drinking in moderation is the key to reduce the risk of miscarriage and protect the health of your baby.
Methylene chloride – a risk factor for pregnant women
Caffeine is not the only factor that women need to be careful during pregnancy. Some products might contain the traces of methylene chloride or dichloromethane, a chemical used as the solvent to remove caffeine.
Even when you take in a small amount, the substance can cause a few problems with the central nervous system. In fact, studies have shown a link between methylene chloride and asphyxiation, cognitive impairment, and even cancer.
Keep in mind to read the labels and go for reliable products to reduce the risk of miscarriage and keep you healthy during pregnancy.
Benefits of drinking decaf caffeine during pregnancy?
Taking in caffeine in moderation has been shown to improve alertness and energy. Also, the substance can make you feel better in the morning after a night of difficulty sleeping.
However, it is important to keep an eye on your daily consumption. If possible, you should go for other healthier options and wait until the babies are delivered to enjoy the drink again.
How to reduce caffeine consumption during pregnancy
As it is always better to take preventive measures, pregnant women should cut back on their daily caffeine intake. This seems to be a hard task for coffee lovers. However, keep in mind that it is only temporary.
The simplest way is to choose decaf coffee over regular coffee. With lower caffeine content, you can enjoy the same portion while still reducing caffeine intake. Go for other beverage options as well, such as sparkling sodas, sparkling juices, or sparkling water. Make sure they are unsweetened.
You should also know that caffeine can be found in many other foods, especially tea and dark chocolate. Therefore, make sure to read the labels to figure out the nutritional value before deciding to purchase.
Making an abrupt switch to decaf coffee or stopping coffee consumption suddenly would shock the body. This leads to many withdrawal symptoms like headaches, tiredness, and vomiting. Therefore, make a gradual change over a few weeks to reduce the risk.
Another diet change that you can make during pregnancy to reduce the effect of caffeine is to have smaller and more frequent snacks or meals. This is a good option especially when you are trying to decaffeinate the system. It can prevent the blood sugar from decreasing and keeps the energy levels up in your body.
Lastly, visit your healthcare provider or midwife regularly to keep track of your health and the development of the fetus. Seek professional advice concerning caffeine intake as well. This will reduce the risks and protect your health.
The bottom line
Compared to regular coffee, decaf coffee contains very little caffeine. Thus, pregnant women can still drink it without harming their babies. The key is to limit consumption and avoid exceeding the recommended daily intake. Keep in mind that this change is not going to last forever and you can enjoy your favourite staple again when the baby is born.