FAQ: Conception, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Caffeine Calculator
Decaf coffee is a great way to substitute your daily caffeine addiction whilst you're pregnant or breastfeeding and it's absolutely safe for you and your baby.
The Swiss Water Decaf process uses water - and only water - to decaffeinate the beans - no chemicals - and is 99.9% caffeine free.
For more information about the Swiss Water Decaf process, please click here or visit our 'About Swiss Water Decaf' page.
Furthermore, there are now some amazing decaffeinated coffees to replace that latte or americano and you will literally not tell the difference.
So, here goes, our Ultimate Decaf FAQ to conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding:
1) Does caffeine affect fertility, ability to conceive and pregnancy?
This is a common question amongst couples wanting to conceive. Our culture has changed to such a degree that many don’t start looking at making babies until their thirties and forties, so it’s even more important to consider how your diet affects fertility – and that includes caffeine.
At the end of the day, caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can affects other organ systems of the body as well as being responsible for a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, revving up metabolism and increasing urine formation.
But, what about caffeine’s effect on fertility and the ability to conceive?
First of all, the studies here are not conclusive and we believe that a lot more research needs to be done before we can be really sure about caffeine’s effect on fertility.
Several studies have shown that caffeine can increase the length of time it takes to conceive. One study showed that women who drank more than one cup of coffee a day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle as compared to women who consumed less. Decaffeinated coffee does not affect the ability to conceive.
Another study in patients undergoing IVF treatment demonstrated that women who consumed even modest amounts of caffeine (50 mg) were likely to have decreased live birth rates. While the exact mechanism by which caffeine affects fertility is unknown, the answer may be related to the ability of caffeine to influence the quality of the developing oocyte (egg). Preliminary studies in mice and monkeys suggest caffeine inhibits oocyte maturation. An immature oocyte does not fertilize and therefore is unable to produce a pregnancy.
It is already well known that it’s prudent to avoid or control caffeine consumption when pregnant. Some women drink decaf coffee to help with this. Multiple studies have suggested that caffeine consumption can increase the risk of miscarriage. Women consuming greater than 200 mg of caffeine per day had twice the miscarriage rate (25.5%) as compared to nonusers (12.5%).
To put that into perspective, a standard cappuccino will have about 150mg of caffeine. In addition, pregnant women may be more sensitive to caffeine as it is metabolized or broken down slower during pregnancy. Caffeine can also cross the placenta and directly affect the developing baby.
With most studies indicating that the effects of caffeine are related to amount of caffeine consumed, it would seem prudent for women contemplating pregnancy to limit caffeine consumption.
Women who consume large amounts of caffeinated beverages should taper their caffeine intake gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, restlessness and nausea.
Swiss Water Decaf coffee can of course help with weaning yourself off caffeine as well as switching to decaf during pregnancy and beyond. We’re currently in the throes of a caffeine epidemic, so it would be wise to reboot your caffeine intake after pregnancy and decaf coffee can be a health substitute for the real thing.
2) How much coffee can I drink when I’m pregnant? Is Decaf OK for pregnant women?
For many people, decaf coffee is still associated with being pregnant and there is still a lot of confusion about how much caffeine pregnant mum’s can drink and this is what this post is all about.
According to the NHS, if you’re pregnant, you should really limit the amount of caffeine you consume to 200 milligrams (mg) a day, which is the equivalent of one cup of filter coffee or 2 cups of instant coffee.
This is where decaf can really come into its own. A lot of mums just decide to go completely decaf and often feel the benefits of living caffeine free and don’t go back. In some ways, it’s well worth considering going completely decaffeinated during the pregnancy because caffeine is found naturally in lots of foods, such as tea and chocolate. It’s also added to some soft drinks, energy drinks, and cold and flu remedies.
High levels of caffeine during pregnancy can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can increase the risk of health problems in later life. Caffeine can also increase the risk of a miscarriage.
That being said, you don’t need to cut caffeine out completely, but you should limit how much you have to no more than 200mg a day. Swapping your morning drink with decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit juice or water, and definitely cutting out any energy drinks you have, as they can be high in caffeine.
Even soft drinks can contain high levels of caffeine, so make sure you read the ingredients. It’s also worth talking to your midwife, pharmacist or another healthcare professional before taking any medicines, including cold and flu remedies.
The amount of caffeine found in some foods and drinks is as follows:
- one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- one mug of tea: 75mg
- one can of cola: 40mg
- one can of energy drink: up to 80mg
- one 50g bar of plain chocolate: most products on the UK market contain less than 25mg
- one 50g bar of milk chocolate: most products on the UK market contain less than 10mg
Sometimes, these warnings can sound overly scary, so don’t worry if you occasionally exceed the recommended limit, because the risks are quite small and it’s all about moderation.
Then, there’s the question of whether decaf is safe for pregnant women. This question mark harks back to the old days of decaf in the 1970s when strong chemicals were used to remove the caffeine.
These days, processes such as Swiss Water Decaf are very safe indeed and use no chemicals (only water - no yukky chemicals), as well as being 99.9% caffeine free, so please feel safe and healthy in drinking decaf coffee when pregnant!
3) Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
There is a lot of focus on the effects of caffeine on the fetus whilst pregnant and the general consensus is that it is sensible to reduce your caffeine intake whilst pregnant.
Decaffeinated coffee can be a great way to still drink coffee, but without the caffeine, and this is recognised by the medical profession, in particular the Swiss Water Decaf coffee method, which uses only water to decaffeinate coffee and is 99.9% caffeine free.
But, moving on, what about drinking coffee whilst you’re breastfeeding?
Whilst breastfeeding, it’s also sensible to be aware of caffeine consumption, since it may adversely affect your breastfeeding baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that moderate caffeine consumption during breastfeeding, which is two to three cups or 300 milligrams or less a day, should pose no effect on a nursing baby. But, more than 2-3 cups a day may start having effects on the baby.
There is also a myth that caffeine decreases the mother’s ability to produce milk, which is not supported by any fact and is an old wives tale. Indeed, one study (Nehlig & Debry, 1994) shows that caffeine can actually stimulate milk production.
So, it’s good to know that caffeine in small doses won’t harm the baby through breastfeeding…
Having said all of that, it must be stated that some babies who are more sensitive to caffeine have been shown to have greater irritability or turn colic. In a few cases, babies cannot efficiently eliminate caffeine from the body, which results in jitteriness, insomnia and constipation.
So, it may be be sensible to err on the side of caution and stick to a cup a day or indeed, it may be better to simply switch to decaf coffee whilst you’re breastfeeding. It’s absolutely fine to drink decaf coffee whilst breastfeeding. In fact, there are even some health benefits to it.
Just like regular coffee, decaffeinated coffee contains antioxidants, but about fifteen percent may be lost during the decaffeination process. A single cup contains significant primary antioxidants in decaffeinated coffee such as hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, as well as 4.8% of potassium, 2.4% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 2.5% of vitamin B3.
The other thing to consider is that caffeine is found in other food and drinks, such as soft drinks, chocolate and tea, so you need to keep an eye on what you’re consuming.
Increasingly, mothers are turning to Swiss Water Decaf coffee to make be absolutely sure that their caffeine consumption is at bare minimum levels.
4) Caffeine Calculator
To use the Tommy's Charity Caffeine Calculator, please visit:
According to the Tommy’s Charity website:
Over-consumption of caffeine (more than 200mg daily) is linked to miscarriage, low birth-weight and fetal growth restriction, but many women are unaware what 200mg represents in real life.
Caffeine is ‘hidden’ in many products including chocolate and energy drinks
Tommy’s caffeine calculator helps women track their consumption
Since 2008 the Food Safety Authority (FSA) has recommended that pregnant women keep their caffeine intake to under 200mg a day, but evidence from Tommy’s, the pregnancy and baby charity, shows that women do not know what 200mg caffeine represents and are over-consuming.
A poll of 4,100 pregnant women conducted by Tommy’s showed that 61% would reduce their caffeine consumption habits after being made aware of how much caffeine there is in daily items.
Babies of pregnant women who consume over 200 mg of caffeine per day are at an increased risk of fetal growth restriction which could result in low birth weight and/or miscarriage.
“There is evidence that excessive caffeine intake is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Interestingly, this evidence seems to apply to not just women during pregnancy, but also to men, pre-conception. Although more research is required, most clinicians would recommend couples to restrict their caffeine intake.”
Professor Arri Coomarasamy, Clinical Director of Tommy’s National Miscarriage Research Centre
Caffeine is found in tea and coffee, cola, other soft beverages such as energy drinks and chocolate. A mug of tea has around 75mg and a bar of plain chocolate has around 25mg.
“Caffeine consumption can add up so quickly! Two cups of coffee and a bar of chocolate would have enough caffeine to be over the recommended limit while pregnant. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas, fruit juice and water. Don’t worry if you have in the past gone over the 200mg limit but using a caffeine calculator now can help you be more aware of your consumption and to cut down if you need to.”
Sophie King, Tommy’s midwife
To use the Tommy's Caffeine Calculator, please visit:
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