Coffee in pregnancy, how to behave

Coffee in pregnancy, how to behave


Espresso or American. With the mocha or strictly at the bar. Macchiato with milk or simply black. Hot or cold. Whatever your personal taste, coffee is one of the favorite drinks in Del Paese and in many other countries. Obviously there are also people who don't like it, but for those who love it it is a real ritual that begins in the morning. But how to deal with coffee during pregnancy? Can you drink or should it be avoided? And in what quantity?

Coffee in pregnancy: an open debate

The positions of the scientific world on the consumption of coffee during pregnancy are different. Alongside the "softer" ones according to which caffeine is not harmful, there are those that instead show some dangers. This substance is able to cross the placenta, reaching the fetus. The little one, however, is not able to metabolize it in the same way as an adult. So, there is some risk.

The watchword is therefore only one: moderation. Coffee during pregnancy should not be completely banned, but you must not exaggerate with the quantities consumed. In reality, especially in the first quarter, the problem may just not exist. The strong and penetrating aroma of the drink can trigger nausea or make it worse in those who already have it. Drinking coffee therefore becomes the last thought of those who find themselves in this situation.

But just the classic ailments of pregnancy disappear, usually starting from the second trimester of pregnancy, a cup of coffee is often what it takes to give yourself a boost of energy. But how far can we go? 

Caffeine: in which foods and drinks it is found

We must not make the mistake of thinking that caffeine is contained only in coffee because it also hides where we would not think we would find it: 

  • Coffee.
  • You.
  • Energy drinks.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Chocolate (especially milk, but also dark).

The caffeine content is highest in instant powdered coffee and tea. The quantity is reduced in the espresso, in the tea bags, in the coffee made with the mocha. Snacks and all chocolate-based preparations are also a source of caffeine.

Decaffeinated coffee and decaffeinated tea also have some, but it is very little and therefore harmless for the mother and her baby. Also beware of drugs: some may contain the exciting substance. 

Coffee in pregnancy: what are the risks

There are many scientific studies that have been conducted on this topic. Most have come to the same conclusion: excessive doses of caffeine can harm the health of the fetus. In particular, in the recommendations "Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation", created in 2022 by the Confalonieri Ragonese Foundation on a mandate from the Del Paesena Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SIGO), the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Hospital Del Paeseni (AOGOI) and 'Del Paeseni University Gynecologists Association (AGUI), it is highlighted that several studies have shown a correlation between caffeine intake and various problems in pregnancy: increased risk of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, younger child than gestational age, premature birth and obesity in the unborn child. 

The report also points out that a safe threshold for caffeine intake during pregnancy has not yet been identified, exactly the same one that SIGO reiterated for alcohol consumption (we talked about it HERE). "It is known - reads the recommendations - that the functional immaturity of the fetal liver produces an insufficient level of enzymes necessary for the metabolism of caffeine, increasing the risk of excessive exposure".

And there is also another negative aspect highlighted by the Society of Gynecologists. An excess of caffeine reduces the absorption of iron, which is essential for the mother and fetus. Iron deficiency can lead to further problems, so it should be avoided as much as possible.

Coffee in pregnancy and women's ailments

Too much caffeine can give the expectant mother some discomfort, particularly if it is taken in the evening: 

  • nauseous.
  • Stomach acidity.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nervousness.
  • Slight increase in blood pressure.

Keep in mind, however, that the reaction is very subjective and depends on the particular sensitivity of the expectant mother, as well as on the amount of caffeine consumed.  

Coffee in pregnancy: how much to consume 

To define the guidelines on the maximum amount of caffeine in pregnancy is, as often happens, the World Health Organization. The recommended limit is 200-300 mg per day, which is approximately 2 cups of coffee. On the other hand, SIGO recommends not to exceed 200 mg daily.

Not only coffees are counted in the daily calculation. As we have seen, albeit to a lesser extent, caffeine is also found in other drinks and some foods. This must be taken into consideration.

Coffee in pregnancy and cigarette smoking

For many smokers, the cup of coffee is almost always accompanied by a cigarette. It is an almost automatic gesture that many do. This association is obviously prohibited in pregnancy when smoking is quit. The harmful effects on the fetus are known and it is not really the case. 

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