Healthy Eating during Pregnancy

Many pregnant and breastfeeding women are con-
cerned about consuming too much caffeine. Caffeine is
found in coffee, tea, some soft drinks, chocolate, and
some over-the-counter medications. Most research
finds that it is safe for both pregnant and breastfeeding
women to consume moderate amounts of caffeine.
Moderate caffeine intake is considered to be about 300
mg/day. This is typically about the same amount that is
found in two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee, depending
on the type and strength of the coffee, or six cups of
tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women don’t have to
give up their morning cup of coffee, tea, or soft drink.
However, if their usual coffee consumption is more
than two to three cups per day, it would be wise to cut
back until they are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.
With that in mind, women who are planning to con-
ceive may want to limit caffeine consumption to less
than 300 mg/day. This includes caffeine from all sources.
Moderate caffeine consumption of up to 300 mg/day
throughout the entire pregnancy has not been shown
to increase the risk of birth defects. Although the topic
remains controversial, scientific research organiza-
tions like the Organization of Teratology Information
Specialists (OTIS) conclude that moderate caffeine
consumption during pregnancy does not increase the
risk of miscarriage. The March of Dimes takes a more
conservative approach,
recommending pregnant
women limit caffeine
consumption to less than
200 mg/day.
Caffeine from foods and
beverages becomes part
of the mothers breast
milk, but nursing mothers
can consume small
amounts of caffeine without harming the baby. Over
300 mg/day of caffeine could make it hard for the baby
to fall asleep and/or lead to trouble feeding the baby.
Limiting caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg/day is
recommended for breastfeeding mothers.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
consumption of low-calorie sweeteners is safe for the
general public, including pregnant women. In the
United States, there are five low-calorie sweeteners
(also sometimes referred to as artificial sweeteners or
sugar substitutes) approved for use in foods and as
tabletop sweeteners. They are: acesulfame potassium
(Ace-K), aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose.
Studies show that they are all safe to consume dur-
ing pregnancy.
However, anyone pregnant or not with phenylke-
tonuria (PKU) an inherited disease, must restrict their
intake of phenylalanine from all sources, including as-
partame. Studies show that pregnant women who have
the PKU gene but not PKU disease can digest aspar-
tame well enough to protect the baby.
Although saccharin can cross the placenta, there is
no evidence that it is harmful to the developing baby.
Both the American Dietetic Association and the Ameri-
can Diabetes Association state that saccharin can be
consumed in moderation during pregnancy.
Sodium is a very important, natural part of fluids in
the human body, and is found in blood and sweat.
Working with other minerals, such as potassium,
Most research finds
that it is safe for both
pregnant and
breastfeeding women to
consume moderate
amounts of caffeine.
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