Third Trimester: Effects of Caffeine Intake in Pregnancy

Written by Peony C Echavez
Consumption During the Third Trimester

The third trimester is the most crucial phase of a woman’s pregnancy cycle because it happens to be the stage where the fetus prepares itself to out of the mother’s womb. Hence, it is vital that pregnant woman make a conscious effort to monitor their caffeine intake during this period in order to avoid any mishaps and risk affecting the health of the unborn fetus. There are several hidden sources of caffeine in your daily diet which may be unaware of. Try spending time to get to know these hidden sources of caffeine and cut down on their intake to the recommended levels for pregnant mothers.

Effects of Caffeine Intake on Fetus

Over the decades, doctors and researchers have conducted thorough and well-documented studies on the adverse effects induced by high caffeine intake on fetuses and the end results are quite startling. Knowing these effects will help create awareness among pregnant women about the importance of staying clear from high caffeine consumption. The following are some of the major health hazards that fetuses can suffer from when mothers consume large quantities of caffeine.

  • There is a higher risk of the fetus being born with lower body weight if the mother’s diet contains large servings of caffeine. The third trimester is the time when the fetus starts putting on weight and exposing it to high levels of caffeine will decrease its weight substantially. This may also cause respiratory problems for the baby when it is born.
  • Mothers who are addicted to high caffeine intake are at a higher risk of suffering from miscarriages. As your trimesters increase, your body needs to work extra hard to remove the excess levels of caffeine in your bloodstream. It has been found that your body is required to work three times harder to flush out the excess caffeine during the third trimester. This puts unnecessary placenta that supplies food and nutrients to the fetus.
  • Excessive intake of caffeine has found to cause iron deficiency in pregnant women. This is due to the presence of certain compounds called phenols which are found in caffeine. Iron, being an essential nutrient, is very important for the growth of the fetus’ bones and skeleton. The lack of iron in pregnant women can cause the fetus to be born with birth defects.

Recommended Intake of Caffeine During the Third Trimester

Pregnant women are advised not to go beyond the limit of 200mg of caffeine per day during their third trimester. If they can reduce the limit even lower to say 150mg, it would be ideal. So before you consume food products containing caffeine, know the amount of caffeine they offer per serving. This will prove to be beneficial in planning your daily caffeine intake. 200 mg of caffeine is equivalent to 1 tall cup of Starbucks, 10 cups of decaff or 2 cups of espresso.

Alternatives to Caffeine

  • Instead of opting for coffee, try to get tea into your system which is a healthier choice.
  • Increase the quantity of milk in your coffee as it reduces the caffeine levels.
  • Switch to decaffeinated coffee. They still contain caffeine but in a much lesser amount compared to regular coffee.
  • Drink plain hot water. This soothing beverage contains no caffeine. Add lemon or lime for little flavoring.

Though caffeine has its own share of health benefits, pregnant women who are in their third trimester are better off without including it in their diet due to its health risks. It is advisable then to continue with this approach even after pregnancy if you are planning for breastfeeding since caffeine can be passed on to the baby through breast milk.


Contributor : Peony C Echavez ()

This Article Has Been Published on June 16, 2014 and Last Modified on December 22, 2018

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a large health education website, and currently creates content for a number of health practisioners. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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