Don't Want to Forgo Coffee or Wine During Your Pregnancy? Learn Whether It Is Safe

Being pregnant is a time full of wonder, excitement and joy -- along with some anxiety, discomfort and restrictions. Anything you come into contact, especially the food and drinks you consume, might come into contact with your child. Certain items might cause harm, leading to developmental problems, birth defects or a miscarriage.

Therefore, pregnant women have to deal with long lists of items to avoid. However, some women remain confused about the safety of some items, such as coffee, tea and wine, thanks to conflicting advice. So, what is the truth about these beloved beverages? Let's find out.

Close-up of espresso pouring from coffee machine. Professional coffee brewing

Close-up of espresso pouring from coffee machine. Professional coffee brewing

The Risks of Caffeine

The reason that coffee and tea make the list of unsafe beverages is due to their caffeine. Although human studies are limited due to the ethical constraints involved in testing pregnant women, animal studies have found a link between birth defects, low birth weight babies, decreased fertility and higher miscarriage rates. Some human studies have also confirmed these potential dangers of caffeine, including a study that showed women who consumed more than 200 milligrams of caffeine had twice the risk of miscarriage as those who did not consume caffeine.

Additionally, caffeine is a diuretic, which might lead to dehydration if not adequately compensated for. It is also a stimulant, which means it increases your heart rate and blood pressure. This might lead to problems during your pregnancy. Lastly, caffeine has the potential to cross the placenta and affect your child, whose metabolism is not developed enough to handle it.

Recommendations for Drinking Coffee

If you just cannot function if you do not drink coffee, do not despair. You can safely drink about one 10-ounce cup of regular coffee, depending on the brew of coffee. The safe parameters for caffeine include staying within 200 milligrams of caffeine. To do this, you need to know how much caffeine is in your normal cup of joe.

For example, if your regular coffee brand and serving size has 400 milligrams of caffeine, then you might need to cut back. You might be able to have more coffee if you choose light blends with lower caffeine levels or opt for a latte or other milky drink, since they tend to have less caffeine.

Coffee itself has not been linked to the pregnancy risks, so you always swap out your normal brew for decaf coffee and drink it as you normally would -- unless you down more than about 10 cups of coffee per day. Even decaf has some caffeine in it, although it is typically about 12 to 25 milligrams per serving size rather than 100 and 400 milligrams. 

Just remember that when you are counting your caffeine intake to include any caffeinated teas, caffeinated sodas and chocolate you consume, as they will all add to the total limit of 200 milligrams per day.

Related: The Best And Worst Foods To Eat When You're Pregnant

What About Tea?

As mentioned, caffeinated tea adds to your total consumption of caffeine, so you want to stay within the recommendations. Most caffeinated teas, such as green or black, have much less caffeine than coffee at around 30 to 80 milligrams per 8-ounce serving. Decaf tea will also still have some caffeine, although it will be lower doses than decaf coffee at 5 milligrams. Therefore, drinking a few cups of caffeinated tea every day, or switching to decaf tea, should be fine. As an added bonus, you also benefit from the healthy antioxidants in black and green tea.

You also need to consider herbal teas. Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine, and the herbs have a wide range of health benefits. However, this does not mean they are safe. In fact, some herbal teas are actually dangerous for pregnant women to consume. It is unknown whether high levels of certain herbs might have a negative effect on the fetus, so you want to proceed with caution as to how much herbal tea you drink, unless your doctor has specifically stated otherwise.

Ginger Tea in a glass

Ginger Tea in a glass

Generally speaking, peppermint, ginger and lemon balm are likely safe to drink. Red raspberry tea is also safe to drink, but it is usually best to drink later in the pregnancy. Possibly unsafe teas include:

  • Nettle
  • Yellow dock
  • Alfalfa
  • Yerba mate
  • Licorice
  • Hibiscus
  • Blue cohosh
  • Black cohosh

Discuss any herbal teas that you wish to consume with your doctor to ensure it is safe.

Is Wine Safe to Drink?

Alcohol is another widely debated topic when it comes to safe beverages for pregnant women. When the connection between alcohol and birth defects were first realized, women were told flat out not to drink alcohol. Then, advice began to pop up saying that drinking some alcohol was safe. In fact, you might hear different advice from different doctors. So, what is the real answer?

Heavy drinking definitely causes birth defects, so you want to avoid that. However, there has been no research that has provided clarity to the effects of moderate drinking. This means that there is no evidence to show that a set amount of alcohol is safe, but it also has not shown that it is unsafe.

Although some studies have found that drinking one to two small drinks pre week or occasionally drinking did not create any behavioral or cognitive problems, there is just not sufficient evidence to rule out the potential issues. Even small amounts of alcohol might impact the developing brain and cause issues, so it is best to err on the side of caution and choose alcohol-free beverages.

Due to the many unknown answers, no alcohol remains the official recommendation by many organizations, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you want to feel like you are enjoying wine, try an alcohol-free variety like FRE Wine.

You can safely drink coffee and tea, as long as you stick within the 200 milligram limit on caffeine and avoid certain herbal teas. As to wine, it is best to stick with FRE Wine or other non-alcoholic beverages. However, if you are to have one sip of wine to toast at a wedding, you might not have to stress out about it. For more answers and advice from trusted parents, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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