Is it Safe for Pregnant Women to Consume Caffeine?

There has been some controversy about caffeine in the research in the past few years.  The bottom line is this: It appears in healthy people (i.e. those who are not under lots of stress, dealing with high anxiety or feeling like they’re running on fumes) that caffeine is rarely a problem in small to moderate doses.  

However, what about for pregnant women?

The common advice, even for pregnant women until recently, has been that caffeine is not an issue in small to moderate amounts. Yet a new meta-analysis that looked at 42 observational studies reveals that there really is no safe amount of caffeine for expectant mothers or those who are trying to get pregnant.1  

Caffeine intake at varying levels in pregnant women has shown to pose many negative challenges. Here are a few:

  • Increased likelihood of children having higher body fat levels as well as increased abdominal and liver fat (as confirmed at age 10).2
  • Possible risk of low birth weight infants.3
  • Can increase risk of spontaneous abortion.4

Another factor to consider is that caffeine is contraindicated to those with anxiety, heart concerns, insomnia, GERD and diseases of the liver or kidneys.5  For many women, pregnancy can be a time of high stress for a lot of reasons (sometimes emotional and sometimes purely the physical discomfort of morning sickness, poor sleep, constipation and other common challenges).  This is another indirect reason to avoid caffeine.

The takeaway… Could small amounts of caffeine be safe for many pregnant women?  Perhaps … but this is not a risk worth taking.  It would be best for women who are having unprotected sex to avoid caffeine altogether.  One main reason is that many women consume caffeine for the first trimester because they aren’t yet aware that they are pregnant.

It is important to remember that, when dealing with any health issue and especially one pertaining to an infant, we want to maintain high health standards.  The question to ask is NOT, “Will it hurt me or the baby? What can I get away with?” etc. The better question is, “How far can I go to have optimal health? What can I do to provide radiant nutrition for this baby?”

Keep your standards high and always err on the side of radiant health.  If you need help, we’d love to support you on your path to radiant wellness … or an incredible pregnancy or whatever you need help with in your health.

Thanks for taking time to read this post!

Reference list:

1. James JE. Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: a narrative review with implications for advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. BMJ Evidence-Based Med. 2020. doi:10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111432

2. Voerman E, Jaddoe VWV, Hulst ME, Oei EHG, Gaillard R. Associations of maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy with abdominal and liver fat deposition in childhood. Pediatr Obes. 2020. doi:10.1111/ijpo.12607

3. Peacock A, Hutchinson D, Wilson J, et al. Adherence to the caffeine intake guideline during pregnancy and birth outcomes: A prospective cohort study. Nutrients. 2018. doi:10.3390/nu10030319

4. Gaskins AJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Williams PL, Toth TL, Missmer SA, Chavarro JE. Pre-pregnancy caffeine and caffeinated beverage intake and risk of spontaneous abortion. Eur J Nutr. 2018. doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1301-2

5. Evans J, Richards J, Battisti A. Caffeine. StatPearls. Published 2020. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.

Dr. LeAnn Fritz, PhD

Dr. LeAnn is a practitioner, coach, speaker, consultant, and the founder of New Hope Health. She is also the author of The Quantum Weight Loss Blueprint, and Get Healthy Now. She is laser-focused on practical, evidence-based practices to empower her clients to get real results that last. She sets the bar when it comes to radiant health that will change every area of your life forevermore.

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