What Happens When You Drink Too Much Caffeine While Pregnant?

While caffeine is generally safe for everyone, medical experts always advise expectant mothers to be cautious of the amount they consume in a day. And that can make you wonder, what happens when you drink too much caffeine while pregnant?

More than 200mg of coffee in a day while pregnant can hurt the fetus; increase the risk of miscarriage, cause low birth weight, and increase heartbeat. In addition, caffeine raises your blood pressure, increases the frequency of urination, and makes you feel fatigued.

Effects of Drinking Too Much Caffeine While Pregnant

Doctors and researchers caution against excess caffeine consumption while pregnant. That’s because the stimulant puts expecting mothers and their unborn babies at risk. Because of that, here are some of the things too much caffeine does to a pregnant woman and her baby:

1. Speeds Heartbeat

High caffeine intake increases heartbeat due to its stimulatory effect. It may further cause an altered heartbeat rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, a condition seen in young pregnant women who consume energy drinks containing large amounts of caffeine.

2. Leads to High Blood Pressure

When taken in large amounts, caffeine narrows blood vessels, increasing blood pressure. As a result, high blood pressure can lead to slowed fetal growth, placental complications, low birth weight, and even death of the unborn baby.

Things can be worse if you already have an existing high blood pressure condition. And if that’s the case, I advise you to avoid caffeine consumption while pregnant completely.

3. Increases the Risk of Miscarriage

Since the fetus’s body is still underdeveloped, it doesn’t have the enzymes to metabolize caffeine. As a result, the stimulant may overpower it, inhibiting cell development and reducing placental blood flow. It may raise the chances of preterm births or miscarriages.

4. Triggers Fatigue

Even though caffeinated beverages tend to give you a quick energy boost, you may feel fatigued when they exit your body. You wouldn’t want to feel like that while pregnant.

5. Causes Frequent Urination and Urgency

Caffeine is known for its diuretic effect. If consumed in excess, it causes you to visit the bathroom more than usual.

Caffeine During Pregnancy Second Trimester

The caffeine effects become more noticeable as the pregnancy progresses. During the second trimester, it takes twice longer to eliminate caffeine from your body and even much longer in the third trimester.

In turn, a large amount of caffeine gets through the placenta and comes in contact with the unborn baby, whose body can’t process it efficiently. Because the fetus’s body is still developing and takes time to process the caffeine, the unborn baby becomes exposed much longer to the effects of caffeine than you.

With that said, moderate caffeine consumption may not cause any harm. Taking 200milligrams will be enough for a day. But be keen on the size of the cup to avoid overconsumption.

Benefits of Drinking Coffee While Pregnant

Even though pregnant mothers only drink a small amount of coffee in a day, they still get all the coffee benefits. These benefits include:

1. Quick Energy Boost

It’s common for pregnant mothers to feel fatigued. Luckily, a cup of coffee goes a long way to making them feel refreshed and energized again within a short time.

2. Supporting Brain Health

A few studies suggest that coffee shields your brain against certain neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The drink further reduces the chances of cognitive decline. Besides, the stimulant triggers your central nervous system, causing you to stay alert when you need to focus on something.

3. Improved Exercise Performance

While pregnant, health experts often recommend exercises to promote muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Drinking the stimulant before hitting the gym may keep you energized and help you endure the entire exercising process.

4. Reduced Risk of Depression

Pregnancy is a journey that sees some mothers get super-stressed and even depressed. Luckily, several studies have linked coffee to reducing the risk of depression and lowering the chances of death through suicide.

5. Increased Metabolism

Various studies reveal coffee capability in increasing metabolism by up to 11% and burning fat by 13%. This may help you to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.

According to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, pregnant mothers need to limit their caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day. This can be one to two cups of coffee or two to four cups of tea, depending on the preparation method and drink type.

Alongside these limitations, you need to be keen on the source of caffeine. For example, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics cautions against taking energy drinks during the entire pregnancy period.

Other than caffeine, these energy drinks also have high levels of added sugars and artificial sweeteners, which add no value to the body.

Some herbal teas are also unsafe for pregnancy, such as licorice roots’ tea, chicory roots’ tea, and fenugreek’s tea. You may need to consult your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician before drinking them. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How does caffeine affect the fetus?

A. It causes the placenta and blood vessels in the uterus to narrow, reducing the supply of blood to the fetus, thus inhibiting growth.

Q. Is too much coffee bad for pregnancy?

A. Excess coffee consumption increases the amount of caffeine in the body, putting the fetus at risk. It is advisable to limit the caffeine intake to 200mg each day.

Q: How much caffeine could cause a miscarriage?

A: Women who consume more than the recommended amount of coffee intake in a day (not more than 200mg could have a higher risk of miscarriage compared to those who took less than 200mg of coffee or no coffee at all.

Q. What does caffeine do to a pregnant woman?

A. The stimulant increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which are not safe during pregnancy. It further leads to frequent urination, which in turn reduces body fluids. The caffeine gets through the placenta to the fetus and affects its development.

Q: How does caffeine affect baby?

A: Numerous studies done on animals show that caffeine can cause premature labor, birth defects, reduce fertility, and preterm delivery.

Q: Can coffee cause miscarriage in first trimester?

A: Taking the right amount of coffee during pregnancy does not cause miscarriage during the first trimester.

Q. Can I still drink coffee while I’m pregnant?

A. A cup or two of coffee (100-200mg) won’t do any harm. However, you need to consult your doctor before taking any caffeinated beverages.

Parting Shot

You can still have your caffeine boost while pregnant but in small amounts. Taking a maximum of 200mg of coffee in a day may be deemed safe and will enable you to get the required caffeine health benefits as you also protect your pregnancy. Through that, you will minimize many coffee side effects that accompany excessive coffee drinking.