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    Espresso or Americano. With the mocha or strictly at the bar. Macchiato or black. Boiling or cold. Whatever the personal taste, coffee is a favourite drink in many countries around the world and for those who love it, it is a real ritual that starts in the morning. But how to deal with coffee during pregnancy?

    Coffee in pregnancy is a topic of great interest to many mothers-to-be. Because of its caffeine content, coffee can have significant effects on the health of both mother and unborn child. Understanding how much coffee one can drink, the risks and benefits of caffeine consumption and how to reduce the intake of caffeine during pregnancy is essential to ensure a healthy childbearing.

    How much coffee can you drink during pregnancy?

    WHO international guidelines suggest that pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, equivalent to about two espressos or one cup of filtered coffee. However, not only coffee should be counted in the daily calculation. In fact, caffeine is also present in many other foods and drinks, such as tea, chocolate, and energy drinks, which should therefore be consumed with equal moderation.

    Risks and benefits of drinking coffee while pregnant

    A particular source of concern is coffee in early pregnancy. In fact, caffeine is a stimulant that can cross the placenta and reach the fetus, who is obviously unable to metabolise this substance effectively, which then remains in its body for a prolonged period. Several international studies have shown a correlation between caffeine intake and various problems in pregnancy, such as an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, a baby smaller than gestational age, premature birth and obesity, or complications in the development of the nervous system in the unborn child[1].

    However, there are also some benefits associated with moderate caffeine consumption by pregnant women, which would, for example, help improve mood and concentration, combat fatigue or even prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer[2].

    Coffee alternatives for pregnancy

    The good news for mothers-to-be who just cannot give up the pleasure of a good cup of coffee is that there are some excellent alternatives. The first is obviously decaffeinated coffee, which contains far less caffeine than regular coffee. Even in this case, however, the excessive consumption of decaf coffee during pregnancy is not recommended due to the chemical solvents used to extract the caffeine, although they are largely reduced during the roasting phase.

    For herbal tea lovers, chicory drinks are an excellent substitute for coffee while being pregnant and may offer additional benefits, such as relaxation.

    Last, but certainly not least, is barley coffee, which contains no caffeine and has digestive and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as promoting milk production for breastfeeding.

    How to reduce coffee consumption during pregnancy

    Reducing coffee consumption during pregnancy can be a challenge for many women who are used to drinking several cups a day. Here are some practical tips:

    1. Step-by-step: gradually reduce the amount of coffee consumed daily to minimise withdrawal.
    2. Alternatives: replace one or two cups of coffee with decaffeinated drinks or herbal teas.
    3. Hydration: maintain adequate hydration with water or caffeine-free drinks to reduce coffee cravings.
    4. New habits: integrate other activities into daily routine, such as a walk or breathing exercises, to curb coffee cravings while improving energy and concentration.

    In conclusion, moderation is the key word. While it is true that coffee is not banned completely during the nine months of childbearing, it is essential to be aware of the potential effects of drinking coffee while pregnant and take steps to limit caffeine intake. An expectant woman should follow a varied and balanced diet, without necessarily giving up the occasional gluttony or a good cup of coffee, which, consumed in the right doses, can also bring healthy benefits.



    [1] Source: Jahanfar S., Jaafar S.H. Effects of restricted caffeine intake by mother on fetal, neonatal and pregnancy outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2015;6:Cd006965. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006965.pub4.

    [2] “Caffeinated coffee consumption linked to lower risk of T2D among women with history of gestational diabetes”, News-Medical Life Sciences, 14 December 2022

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