This is THE question that worries many pregnant women: what are we allowed to eat or drink during pregnancy? Should we say goodbye to all the little pleasures of everyday life? Some habits can also be more difficult to break than others... especially when you are addicted to your morning coffee!
Caffeine is often questioned and gives rise to many questions about potential adverse effects. Especially since it is not only found in coffee, since it is also present in other types of drinks, such as Coke, tea or other energy drinks.
So what are the real effects of caffeine on the unborn baby? What are the recommendations from different health authorities regarding caffeine consumption during pregnancy? What are the alternatives ? We take stock!
The effects of caffeine on the fetus
When a pregnant woman consumes caffeine, it crosses the placental barrier and can reach the baby. In addition, from the second trimester of pregnancy, the elimination of caffeine is slower and its effects are therefore more intense.
Many researchers then became interested in the potential negative effects of caffeine on fetal development. Among the most common concerns are the impact on birth weight or disruptions in brain development.
Impact on birth weight
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal notably revealed that high daily caffeine consumption during pregnancy could lead to an increased risk of low birth weight. Other studies go even further by adding that this low birth weight could then lead to stunted growth. Birth weight is an important indicator of a baby's good health, and low birth weight may therefore be associated with long-term health problems.
Disturbances to proper brain development
When it comes to fetal brain development, studies show that excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy may be associated with neurological problems in the child. Attention problems and behavioral problems have been mentioned. However, it is important to note that the evidence in this area is still limited and further research is needed to confirm these potential associations.
Some studies have also mentioned a link with a risk of terminated pregnancy (miscarriage) during the first trimester of pregnancy, but this risk has not been formally established, most pharmacological studies on the subject being only observational.
It should be noted that tests on pregnant women are prohibited, so these studies are only observational: the aim is to medically monitor pregnant women and determine whether there are positive or negative consequences of caffeine consumption on their health. health or that of their future child. The results of these studies therefore always remain cautious, and sometimes even incomplete. This is why many scientists and doctors are calling for vigilance regarding caffeine consumption and calling for an even stricter review of current health recommendations.
How much coffee to consume while pregnant?
Currently, recommendations differ depending on countries and organizations, but all recommend opting for moderate coffee consumption, particularly in the pre-conception period and during the first months of pregnancy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this moderate consumption would be around 300 milligrams of caffeine per day. To give you a guide, an average cup of regular coffee (150 milliliters) contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, so that's about 3 cups per day.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is stricter and recommends daily caffeine consumption of less than 200 milligrams, or 2 cups daily maximum.
Note that the amount of caffeine contained in a cup of coffee can vary considerably depending on factors such as the type of coffee consumed (instant coffee, filter coffee, espresso etc.), the type of beans, the brand, the method of preparation or the size of the cup.
What alternative? If you can't live without your 3 or 4 cups of coffee a day, we recommend trying to opt for a low-caffeine coffee, or even decaffeinated. Be careful, however, to choose a decaffeinated coffee without solvent, that is to say with a non-harmful extraction method. And to compensate, why not treat yourself to a small square of dark chocolate?
What about other drinks?
Besides coffee, many other drinks also contain caffeine.
> Carbonated drinks , such as soda, may contain caffeine, although usually in lower amounts than coffee. Not surprisingly, it is recommended to limit the consumption of these drinks, not only because of their caffeine levels, but also because of their high sugar and calorie content, which can contribute to excessive weight gain during pregnancy. . Thoughts for all Coke addicts, we know that withdrawal is hard!
What alternative? Today, there are many carbonated drinks that can be just as pleasant to drink: among our favorite drinks, let's mention kombucha, lemonade or even sparkling water with ginger (which will also have the advantage of reducing the morning sickness). On the other hand, we limit fruit juices, which are often too sweet.
> Energy drinks are another source of caffeine to consider. They often contain high amounts of caffeine, as well as other stimulants, such as taurine. It is strongly recommended to avoid energy drinks during pregnancy due to their high caffeine content and potentially harmful effects on the health of the fetus.
What alternative? If you are lacking energy, we recommend that you instead turn to food supplements adapted to your pregnancy. Our pregnancy vitamins contain all the ingredients to help you limit deficiencies and stay in great shape.
> Not everyone knows it, but caffeine and theine are actually one and the same molecule. The dosages are not the same: a classic cup of tea (250 ml) contains on average 40 mg, which is certainly a much lower dose of caffeine than a coffee, but it does not remain neutral. It is therefore recommended to choose teas with a low caffeine content, such as decaffeinated green tea (always without solvent).
What alternative? If you want a hot drink, herbal tea will be your best ally during pregnancy and it also has many virtues. It's up to you to choose the right plants: we say yes to lemon balm, ginger, verbena, lime, thyme or orange blossom herbal teas. On the other hand, we avoid herbal teas made from chamomile, sage, hops or fennel.
In conclusion, there are legitimate concerns about whether coffee can be consumed during pregnancy. To date, coffee and other caffeinated products are not among the prohibited foods for a mother-to-be. However, it is recommended not to fall into excess and to know how to consume it in small quantities: know how to treat yourself yes, but always in moderation!
To learn more about foods prohibited during pregnancy , you can consult the following article.