When you are pregnant, there are plenty of foods, beverages and activities that are off-limits, but for coffee-lovers, a single cup of joe isn't one of the things you need to avoid. You do have to watch how much you consume, however, because drinking more than one cup limit could expose you and the fetus to more caffeine than is healthy, the March of Dimes warns.
Coffee and Pregnancy
The main concern about coffee consumption during pregnancy is the caffeine content of this popular drink. One 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 137 milligrams of caffeine, according to the March of Dimes. Caffeine also takes longer to clear out of your body when you are pregnant. Components called phenols in coffee are another potential concern, as they hamper the body's ability to absorb iron, a necessary nutrient. Some women are prone to developing anemia, a deficiency in iron, during pregnancy.
In the body, caffeine dilates the blood vessels, raises your heart rate and increases your blood pressure, which could put strain on a developing fetus. The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women get no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day because higher amounts have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Some preliminary studies on caffeine use in pregnancy have tied high caffeine intake to a higher risk of stillbirth, a lower birth weight in the baby and undescended testes in male children, according to BabyCenter. In addition, the caffeine in coffee could trigger heartburn in some pregnant women.
If you are drinking one cup of coffee per day, you need to watch your intake of other forms of caffeine, too. Tea, chocolate, energy drinks and sodas are other potential sources of caffeine in the diet. Even some medicines contain caffeine. Your body doesn't care where you get the caffeine, so if you have a cup of coffee and a few cups of tea, you could exceed your limit without realizing it. Also watch your portion size -- a 16-ounce mug of coffee has double the caffeine dose of an 8-ounce cup.
If you decide to abstain from coffee completely during pregnancy or if you are cutting back from a few cups a day to only one, you could experience withdrawal headaches. Fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating are other symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Gradually reducing your intake can help ease the transition. If you do plan on drinking a cup of coffee, opt for specialty coffees, such as arabica, which have less caffeine than the standard robusta blend found in cheaper canned coffees, the Coffee Review website recommends.