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I am not much of a morning person; however, I can stay up with the best of them.  The fun Facebook quotes about don’t talk to before I have my coffee describes me pretty well.   I like to be left alone in the morning for awhile after arising from my bedroom.  I enjoy a hot cup of tea latte or a breve in the morning while my brain hits reset for the new day.  If that routine gets interrupted, I feel it affects my whole attitude for the day.  So, why am I confessing this meaningless chronic routine?  It is all about caffeine.

Let’s look at the effects of caffeine on pregnancy.  This stimulates that helps us feel more awake in the morning increases blood pressure, heart rate and frequency of urination.  This can lead to dehydration.  Large amounts of caffeine such as 200 mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy may affect the baby in the same way it affects an adult.  Some reports suggest that children exposed to more than 500mg of caffeine per day in the third trimester of pregnancy were more likely to have faster heart rates, shaking, and increased breathing rate.  They spend even more time awake in the days following birth as a result of caffeine.

Did you know that caffeine during pregnancy passes through the placenta to your baby?  The placenta grows in your uterus (Womb) and it supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the developed umbilical cord.  So, when you take into your body too much caffeine, it can cause miscarriages within the first 20 weeks.  Preterm birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy is complete or even cause low birth weight.  It is not known all the ways that caffeine can affect pregnancy yet.  It is best to limit the amount you get to 200mg each day.  Talk to your physician if you are accustomed to caffeine consumption in your life.

I had a pharmacy technician tell me that she does not drink coffee because it gives you “old peoples breath”.  As funny as that was, coffee is not the only source of caffeine in our lives.  Did you know that caffeine is found in the following products:

  • Coffee and coffee-flavored products like yogurt and ice cream
  • Tea
  • Some Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolate and chocolate products, like chocolate syrup and hot cocoa
  • Some medications

Depending on the brand and how the product was prepared determines the amount of caffeine will vary a lot.  Even the type of beans or leaves used in product development and the way it is served, for example, espresso or latte. Milk Chocolate has 11mg of caffeine in 1.55-ounce bar; however, dark chocolate has 30mg of caffeine in 1.45-ounce bar.  Don’t think eating out of the semi-sweet chocolate chip bag is the answer.  These baking chips have 28mg per quarter cup.   It is so easy to hit that 200mg mark of caffeine per day.

There are medications out there for pain relief such as for migraine headaches, colds and to help keep you awake that contain caffeine.  Your physician needs to know every medication that you take including over the counter mediations.  He will outweigh the benefit versus risk for you.

Did you know that herbal products contain caffeine?  These include guarana, yerba mate, kola nut and green tea extract.  Even though they are plant based and used many times in cooking and medicinal purposes, the FDA does not require that herbal products have a label saying how much caffeine they contain.  So, if you are pregnant, don’t use herbal products for this reason.  You can speak with your physician concerning them.

Caffeine up to 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day may cause a baby being breastfed to become fussy or have trouble sleeping.

Is all caffeine bad?  Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health, say moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy could help reduce gestational diabetes risk.

Caffeine has an impact in our adult life.  Imagine the potential impact on a developing baby.  This sharing partnership is very real and very much your responsibility.  If you love your caffeine like I do, put this topic on your list of things to speak to your physician about.  Educate yourself and be aware of the decisions you are making for you and your child.

There are studies out there on maternal caffeine consumption associated with child growth and more.  One of those places to find research is Search Results (jamanetwork.com).   Here are a few more:

Prenatal caffeine exposure: association with neurodevelopmental outcomes in 9- to 11-year-old children – PubMed (nih.gov)

Impacts of Caffeine during Pregnancy – PMC (nih.gov)

The Claim: Caffeine Causes Birth Defects | Psychology Today



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Pregnancy Your Way Supporter Group!

One of the things I learned as a student and resident, is that in obstetrics you can have a lot to say about your outcome. In other words, you can pick your outcome much of the time—not all of the time—but certainly about 90% of the time. Pregnant women so often feel they shouldn’t question the expert, the obstetrician. My goal is to provide pregnant women a safe arena where they can freely ask questions about their choices in their pregnancy and delivery. I can’t offer you medical advice, but I can tell you about my experiences with the 6000 babies I delivered.

In today’s medical environment, it is very difficult to raise questions about your choices of care. I want to encourage women to have the confidence to trust in themselves and the decisions they make about their care.

Obstetrics isn’t about disease.

It’s about preserving your and your baby’s good health.

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