Caffeine Use During Pregnancy
Caffeine is probably the most common and widely used drug in the world. Even with its popularity, relatively little is still known of its harmful effects. When you are pregnant, you should be aware of every chemical that goes into your body and how it might affect your growing child.
Heavy coffee drinkers should consider cutting down if they become pregnant or are trying to conceive. There is some controversy about whether or not caffeine is harmful to fetuses, but some studies suggest that large amounts of caffeine per day may increase risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, and low birth weight.
Women who are trying to become pregnant should limit their caffeine consumption. Studies have linked caffeine intake to lower levels of fertility. Women who took in more than 300 milligrams per day were twice as likely to have delayed conception for up to a year.
General Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine moves through the body very quickly, entering the nervous system in as little as 15 minutes. It causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which is why it is classified as a stimulant. It is also a diuretic, which means it will cause more frequent urination and may cause an overall reduction of your bodily fluids.
Effects of Caffeine on Fetuses
As your pregnancy progresses, your metabolic ability to process caffeine slows down, increasing its effects. Some of the effects of caffeine, such as dehydration, can be harmful to the fetus and mother. In addition, caffeine is easily transferred through the placenta from mother to fetus. Since fetuses have a much less mature metabolism, a fetus may experience higher levels of caffeine for longer periods of time than its mother.
Some studies have reported that even small intakes of caffeine affect the heart rate of the fetus and the fetus' movement patterns. There have also been reports that suggest caffeine consumption may be linked with miscarriages. Women who consumed five or more cups of coffee a day had double the risk of miscarriage, while those that consumed less experienced no such side effects.