Today we talk to Naturopath and Nutritionist Sally Officer about coffee and pregnancy.
The good and the bad in a cuppa
There's no doubt that coffee is enjoyed by many of us and has become a daily ritual. Coffee's ability to improve concentration, mood and energy levels makes it a difficult habit to break. But, whilst coffee has benefits for some, it is problematic for others.
There are a number of benefits to caffeine. It can act as a bronchodilator in asthma, reduce depression and even help prevent dementia and Parkinson's disease. It is also believed to help increase metabolic rate and suppress appetite.
In addition, almost all comprehensive studies have shown no adverse effects of coffee in terms of heart disease, cancers or longevity. In fact, most studies find an association between coffee consumption and decreased overall mortality.
However, for those who are more sensitive to caffeine, even small amounts, like a cup of coffee, can lead to unpleasant side effects, such as, insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety and irritability.
Is it safe during pregnancy?
There is insufficient evidence to confirm or refute the effectiveness of avoiding caffeine on birth weight or other pregnancy outcomes. However, some research suggests that mums to be who consume a lot of caffeine may have a higher risk of pregnancy loss. So, adherence to the guideline of safe caffeine consumption during pregnancy seems wise.
What is this guideline?
It is recommended that consumption is limited to no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This would be equivalent to one cup of strong espresso style coffee.
What about breastfeeding?
Breast feeding mothers may also choose to minimise or avoid coffee, as caffeine readily passes into breast milk. Newborn babies are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine. As it can make a baby unsettled and irritable, it may be preferable to limit caffeine intake and consume other fluids, such as, water or a warming cup of chamomile tea.
What's the verdict on coffee?
For most people it appears the benefits of coffee consumption outweigh the risks. However, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it's prudent to either abstain or limit intake coffee intake to 1 cup of coffee, as well as reducing other caffeine containing foods and drinks.
Thanks to Sally Officer of www.greenleaf.net.au for her balanced view on our favourite drink.
S. Jahanfar & S.H. Jaafar, 2015, Effects of restricted caffeine intake by mother on fetal, neonatal and pregnancy outcomes, Cochrane Database Systematic Review.
L.W. Chen et al, 2016, Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of pregnancy loss: a categorical and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies, Public Health Nutrition.
NSW Food Authority, Pregnancy and Food Safety, 2015,