October 06, 2020 7 min read
TL;DR Some studies show that ingesting caffeine during pregnancy can cause harm to the baby, while others weren't able to establish a direct link between caffeine and adverse effects like a miscarriage. While the jury's still out on this one, there are precautions to take and key things to remember when consuming caffeine while on the way.
Pregnant ladies may be going through A LOT of changes (such an understatement, we know).
This is probably true not just with their body (physical and physiological), but also in their diet. There’s a lot of foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy, which is a tall order for a lot of people! 
And for many, quitting caffeine is the toughest.
But is getting a caffeine fix really bad for pregnant women?
We’re going to try to answer this million-dollar question by putting together the various research and studies we’ve found on the topic and try to help you ladies come up with not just an answer, but a solution.
An academic review published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine by a psychology professor in Iceland caused a bit of a stir in August 2020. Professor Jack James from Reykjavík University reports in the review that "maternal caffeine consumption is reliably associated with major negative pregnancy outcomes," concluding that caffeine should be avoided by pregnant women at all cost.  The article covered “37 observational studies and meta-analyses” that found six negative pregnancy outcomes due to caffeine consumption: miscarriage, still birth, low birth weight or small for gestational age, preterm birth, childhood acute leukemia, and overweight/obese baby. 
Now if you’re a pregnant woman who loves her caffeine fix, or a coffee-lover who’s been trying, there’s no need to panic yet.
The coffee industry has dismissed this study as purely observational and not having enough evidence to prove cause-and-effect.
Epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz from the University of Wollongong in Australia provided an analysis of James’ review in a Twitter thread and suggested that the conclusions made are misleading. Specifically, the problems he highlighted are as follows:
Meyerowitz-Katz along with other researchers and experts who have done studies on the topic suggest that caffeine could have adverse effects during pregnancy when taken in high amounts.
In fact, the World Health Organization acknowledges the same and recommends 300mg a day or less of caffeine should be fine for pregnant women. That’s equivalent to two cups of mid-strength java fix.
While research and studies on the topic are conducted quite exhaustively, they're also widely conflicting.
Some studies say that caffeine is not at all good for mum and the bub, as it results in these adverse effects:
Having a bun in the oven slows down the body’s ability to break down caffeine, so higher levels of caffeine stay longer in the bloodstream. The farther along you are, the longer caffeine stays in your system, and the more intense its effects are in your body. 
Because of this, the caffeine stays longer in the baby’s system, resulting in the following:
A woman is more likely to miscarry if she and her partner drink more than two caffeinated beverages a day on the weeks leading up to conception.
Similarly, women who drank more than two daily caffeinated beverages during the first seven weeks of pregnancy were also more likely to miscarry. 
"We know that caffeine affects the neurotransmitters that affect the brain, and we know that anything that happens during the fetal period will be amplified and could be long-lasting," Dr Li said. 
But some studies beg to differ …
While the above studies emphasize the adverse effects in consuming caffeine during pregnancy, some reports seem to say "not really":
It’s all inconclusive!
“[T]he evidence for an effect of caffeine on reproductive health and fetal development is limited by the inability to rule out plausible alternative explanations for the observed associations.” 
She says that all this talk about pregnant women not allowed to have their caffeine fix may be due to cultural norms and cognitive biases more than scientific evidence itself.
“We expect mothers to be completely self-sacrificing for the sake of their children,” she explains. “This performance of maternal sacrifice during pregnancy—whether in the form of giving up caffeine, or alcohol, or some other form of abnegation—is expected of pregnant women today not only as a route to better fetal health, but as a means of demonstrating their moral fitness to become mothers.”
The American Pregnancy Association suggests that it's better to be safe than sorry:
“Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee.”
However, the latest amount that’s considered safe for pregnant women is 300 mg caffeine a day, based on a 2017 study. 
It all boils down to knowing the caffeine content, especially since caffeine is not only found in coffee but in many different products as well.
Here’s an infographic from The Bump that shows the amount of caffeine found in different products: 
If you must quit caffeine (and feel like it’s going to be an ordeal), remember that you don’t have to do it cold turkey. Here are some tips that can help you steer clear from caffeine (at least for now):
Our advice is pretty simple. Have a caffeine fix within the prescribed limits of WHO and the rest of experts, which is 300 mg or less. Try at most 2 cups of medium strong coffee a day or a caffeine mint of 40 mg apiece.
When in doubt, consult your doctor or healthcare professional to find out the effects of caffeine in your own specific situation.
Or you can just err on the side of caution and ease off on caffeine altogether.
Remember, you can always go back to your favorite café after this wonderful journey!
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And a relatively high dose of caffeine may deliver as much benefit in increasing alertness and improving reaction times as methamphetamine or modanifil.
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Too much caffeine, and you could get anxiety, or a racing heart, or a sour stomach.
What is a gamer to do??
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