Caffeine during pregnancy

pregnant woman drinkind rooibos from red espresso brand

Most of us have heard that caffeine intake during pregnancy is a big no-no but have no idea how to replace our daily “cuppa jo” in a way that is both satisfying for mom and safe for baby.

Firstly, let’s look at what the science says:

Caffeine during pregnancy is not completely unsafe. In fact, pregnant women can consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day without any negative outcomes. This is equivalent to about 2 cups of instant coffee. In comparison, non-pregnant adults can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine per day. Going over these caffeine limits during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and low birth weight babies.

When looking at caffeine intake during pregnancy, it’s important to bear in mind that coffee is not the only contributor to caffeine intake. Products like black tea, green tea, chocolate/cacao, energy drinks and coca cola also contain caffeine. If one were to consume these products, caffeine intake could quickly add up to more than 200mg/day. A safe estimate is to limit caffeinated products to 2 servings per day (with each serving having a maximum of 100mg of caffeine).

Other reasons to reduce coffee/caffeine intake during pregnancy:

  • Caffeine is known as a gastric irritant and so it can cause stomach upset, bloating and cramps, especially in people with sensitive stomachs. If caffeine affects your stomach, it might be a good idea to cut down.
  • For women suffering from morning sickness, caffeine intake may worsen nausea. Many pregnant women also experience strong aversions to coffee, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant so it can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure slightly. If you are very caffeine sensitive, or if you are struggling with heart racing, anxiety or breathlessness during pregnancy (these are common pregnancy symptoms), caffeine intake can worsen these symptoms. It is also recommended to cut down on caffeine if you have high blood pressure.
  • Coffee and regular tea is high in tannins which are colour pigments that interfere with iron absorption. Iron needs are particularly high during pregnancy and getting enough iron in is of utmost importance. If you are a regular coffee drinker and happen to drink coffee close to meal times or close to taking your prenatal vitamins, you might not be absorbing your iron very well and may be at higher risk of iron deficiency.

What can you have instead?

For most of us, our morning cup of tea or coffee is a ritual that is hard to give up. Most pregnant women end up simply replacing their coffee with a herbal tea or forgoing a hot beverage altogether. Both of these options are far less satisfying than a good cup of coffee.

Another option is to try a café-style beverage which gives all of the satisfaction and ritual of coffee but without the negative side-effects. The red espresso® range of products are made from Rooibos and are naturally caffeine-free so they don’t have any of the negative effects of coffee and as a bonus, they boast an amazing antioxidant content which is particularly important during pregnancy as pregnancy increases oxidative stress in the body.

red espresso® Rooibos contains 4 x more polyphenol antioxidants and has 10 times the ORAC value (free radical fighting abilities) compared to Rooibos tea. Drinking Rooibos tea in the traditional way filters out the leaves and therefore only small amounts of antioxidants actually enter the hot water. The red espresso® Ground Rooibos is made from 100% Rooibos tea leaves which allows you to really get all of the health benefits of this amazing tea by consuming the whole leaves in powdered form.

red espresso® also offer a range of unique caffeine-free café-style beverages to help you to replace some of the coffee in your diet: The Superfood Latte Mixes make use of a range of delicious antioxidant-rich superfoods such as Beetroot, Turmeric and Rooibos.

Thanks to red espresso®, it is now possible to cut down on your caffeine intake during pregnancy whilst still maintaining all of the ritual and pleasure of your coffee-drinking habits and getting a great antioxidant boost at the same time.

Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

Written by Jessica Kotlowitz, Registered Dietitian as a paid partnership with red espresso® 

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Jessica Kotlowitz

Jessica Kotlowitz is a Registered Dietitian who is passionate about the use of plant-based diets for the treatment and prevention of obesity and chronic diseases of lifestyle such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Jessica qualified with a Bsc. in Dietetics from Stellenbosch University in 2012 after which she completed her Community Service year at Baragwaneth hospital in Johannesburg where she focused on all aspects of clinical nutrition. She began her Masters degree in 2014 and began to research the effects of plant-based diets in an attempt to find solutions to some of her own health problems. After losing 15kg’s and miraculously transforming her own health with the use of a plant-based diet, Jessica went on to open her own private practice in Cape Town which focuses on helping others to achieve optimal health using abundant plant-centred diets. Since her practice has opened, she has helped dozens of people to successfully transform their health and improve their quality of life. She also focuses on helping athletes, pregnant women, lactating women and children to achieve optimal health, well-being and performance while following vegan or vegetarian diets.