How Much Coffee Can I drink While Pregnant?
Do I really have to give up gorgonzola?
One of the first things most of us women prepare to say goodbye to once we see those two pink lines on our pregnancy tests is caffeine. Many women will stop their caffeine habit cold turkey out of the sheer fear of doing some sort of damage to the new life growing inside of them. These women will swear off anything that has caffeine in it from coffee, and soda to even chocolate. Then there are some of us who will still drink caffeine but cut back. Instead of drinking five cups of coffee a day, we might cut back to at least one cup of coffee to get us through the day.
Our mothers and grandmothers will probably tell us that they drank the same amount of caffeine pregnant as they did when they were not pregnant and their children turned out fine. However a lot more research has been done since their time and studies are showing that too much caffeine can cause some complications such as preterm labor and/or low birth weight.
So how much caffeine is too much caffeine?
Doctors are telling their patients that a moderate amount of caffeine will not harm their babies. Even though caffeine does cross the placenta, anything less than 200 milligrams a day (an 8 ounce cup of strong coffee) will not do any harm. Anything over 200 milligrams puts your baby at risk and studies have also shown that women who drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day during their first trimester have a slightly higher risk of a miscarriage.
Studies have also shown that women who had over 500 milligrams of caffeine a day had babies who had faster heart rates and faster breathing rates. These babies also spent more time awake in their first few days of life rather than peacefully sleeping after their long journey.
There are a number of other reasons why we women might want to cut back on the amount of caffeine we drink during pregnancy.
For starters, it has no nutritional value. If there is ever a time for us to be aware of our nutritional needs it is when we are pregnant. Second, caffeine is a stimulant which will increase your heart rate and can cause insomnia and headaches which can put some stress on your growing little one. Third, caffeine can cause heartburn. If you have been pregnant before you know that heartburn can be a burden to begin with, and caffeine just makes it worse. Lastly it is a diuretic which means it can cause you to lose fluids which can put you at a risk of becoming dehydrated.
While it is not necessary for you to give up all caffeine through out the duration of your pregnancy, you should learn how to drink it in moderation or don’t drink it at all. If you can not handle having only one cup of coffee a day, then you might be better off drinking no coffee at all. Stick with caffeine free sodas and even decaf coffee. Remember though that decaf coffee still contains small traces of caffeine so make sure you take that into consideration.
Foods to avoid while pregnant
Almost every woman knows the basic of what they should and should not do during pregnancy. They know that caffeine should be cut back; they should not smoke, drink alcohol or spend time in any hot tubs. However more and more studies are being done to see if pregnant women should avoid certain foods for the duration of their pregnancy.
It is essential that pregnant women eat a well balanced meal at all times to provide their growing baby with the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that the baby needs to grow. There are some foods though that needs to be avoided due to the risk they pose to not just to the mother, but also to the growing baby.
For starters, raw meat needs to be avoided due to the risk of toxoplasmosis and salmonella. This means no more rare steaks, or rare burgers. Pregnant women should take caution and make sure that all of the meat they eat is cooked well done. Cold deli meat should also be avoided because of the risk of listeria. Listeria can cross the placenta and can cause an infection or blood poisoning to the baby. Keep in mind though that deli meat can be reheated until it is steaming and this will help reduce the risk.
Speaking of listeria there are other foods that can contain this bacteria. Some soft cheeses such as brie, feta, and gorgonzola. These cheeses are commonly made with unpasterized milk. Unpasterized milk often contains listeria, so pregnant women need to make sure that any soft cheeses they are going to eat are made with pasteurized milk.
Fish has always been a subject of debate for pregnant women. While some forms of fish contain essential nutrients that are needed by the baby, others contain a high level of mercury. Any fish with a high level of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, tilefish and fish used in sushi should be avoided through out pregnancy. Studies have linked mercury to developmental delays and in some cases brain damage. Raw shellfish also should be avoided through out pregnancy.
Raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs is a no no during pregnancy. There is a potential exposure to salmonella. This means no raw cookie dough, no brownie mix, and some homemade sauces such as hollandaise, Caesar dressing and blue cheese dressing. When dining in a restaurant, it would be wise to ask any sauces or dressings contain any raw eggs. Most restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs in any raw egg recipe but one should still double check.
There has never been a more important time to be careful what a woman eats then when she is pregnant. Some of the above foods have been linked to miscarriages and other birth defects. If you are pregnant and you have already indulged in a few of the foods you should not have, do not panic. Chances are, you and your baby are fine but take extra care to avoid these foods in the future.