When it comes to pregnancy, many questions are asked about what you can and can’t have, especially when it comes to food and drink. Women and men alike suddenly find themselves reading labels anxiously, as well as googling ingredients and recipes that do good to pregnant women rather than harm. While some of the rules that come with pregnancy are black and white, many aren’t and are solely dependent on who you ask. One of the most popular questions asked, however, is concerned with coffee intake. Can pregnant women drink coffee? How much caffeine can you have while pregnant? Is too much caffeine bad? So, let’s find out!

How much caffeine is in coffee?

With increased levels of fatigue experienced by many pregnant women, coffee may always seem like the easy go-to in order to keep energy levels up, whether it’s to complete day-to-day tasks or manage other children and toddlers. But is it okay to do so? Well, the simple answer is yes, but in small daily amounts. Caffeine crosses the placenta and has been associated with low birth weights, therefore experts recommend that pregnant women take in no more than 200mg daily, approximately 2 cups of coffee. However, it is very important to note that not all coffee is caffeinated in equal measures. Caffeine content varies on the method of production and type. Drip coffee contains the highest levels (approximately 140-240mg per 240ml/8 oz) followed by brewed and then instant. So, as a general guideline, mothers-to-be can have two smalls cups of brewed coffee a day, but it is important to note other sources of caffeine such as fizzy/energy drinks and chocolate.

Reducing caffeine intake

If you are conscious about the levels of caffeine that you consume and want to lower these, or if you think you’ve hit your daily amount and are in search for an alternative to help satisfy your cravings, try these:

  • Drink water/fruit juice
  • Try herbal tea
  • Go decaf!

These may not be the coffee that you know and love, but they will definitely go a long way when cravings start to kick in while giving you peace of mind that you are doing no harm to you or your baby!

For further information on what’s safe to eat or drink while pregnant, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife – for further advice on pregnancy cravings and how to curb them, click below!

Pregnancy Cravings Advice >

Food cravings are something that almost every pregnant woman will experience. From takeaways to sweets to dairy products, there will always be something that they need to satisfy a sudden urge. Many questions surround pregnancy food cravings, however, such as why do they occur, how can you control them and when do they actually start? All of which will be revealed right here, so if you’re experiencing pregnancy food craving or know someone who is and want to get the low-down, carry on reading!

 

What causes pregnancy cravings?

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding pregnancy food craving is how do they actually occur? Well, truth is, there isn’t a definitive answer to what causes them, but a number of reasons have been thought up as potential explanations.  Most experts agree that food cravings evolutionary, that it’s your body sending signals to your brain and taste buds of what it needs. This could be a result of rapidly changing hormones because your body is working extra hard to produce a lot more blood or simply because certain foods make you feel comfortable as your body is changing.

When do pregnancy cravings begin?

For the majority of women, pregnancy cravings begin in the first trimester, peak during the second trimester and start to decline through their third trimester. Doctors say however that few cravings tend to carry on after childbirth, so if you’re worried about cravings being a permanent thing, they most likely will not.

Food aversions – What are they?

Food aversions are just as apparent with pregnant women as food cravings. These are the opposite, however, and can produce some equally unusual feelings. Both food cravings and aversions tend to start around the same time. Experts in psychology state that food cravings may not have anything to with the feeling of morning sickness, but staying away from certain foods does. The most common food that is avoided by women during pregnancy is meat, claims that the sight, smell and texture can be too much to handle. The reason behind this, researchers say, is because meat sometimes carries bacteria that is capable of making mother and baby sick, as a way of protection, the body makes meat seem unappetising.

The most common cravings

Many cravings are harmless and have a personal touch involved, whether it’s food that was eaten as a child or something you tried once and loved. Some, however, are straight up bizarre but are commonly accepted among most pregnant women. The most commonly reported food cravings are:

  • Takeaways such as Chinese or pizza
  • Cream cheese with ketchup
  • Sweets
  • Pickles & ice cream
  • Chocolate

All of these cravings are okay to have occasionally as long as they’re eaten in moderation. Try to avoid consuming unhealthier foods often as too much can cause excessive weight gains and problems such as dental issues.

Tips for avoiding food cravings

  • Plenty of rest – Research shows that people who lack sufficient sleep tend to crave unhealthy foods more than healthy foods
  • Don’t food shop when hungry
  • Eat at regular intervals to prevent feelings of hunger
  • Eat healthy, low glycaemic index (GI) foods that will keep you feeling fuller for longer such as wholegrain bread, fresh fruit and baked beans.

When to seek help

Some cravings can be dangerous and must be avoided at all costs. If and when these occur, the best thing to do is to visit a doctor to receive professional advice. Pica is a potentially poisonous condition, that urges pregnant women to compulsively eat foods with no nutritional value such as soap, dirt or dry paint. Cravings such as these, along with alcohol and drugs can cause danger and harm to both yourself and your baby.

If you have any questions regarding pregnancy cravings or want to find out more information in relation to your pregnancy, please contact a professional as soon as possible. Please visit our scan packages page below to learn about all the baby ultrascans that we provide and to book yours today! 

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Food is always a big concern when you're pregnant for the first time. We've already discussed what you shouldn't eat, so now here's some simple and easy-to-follow advice on what you should eat during your pregnancy, trimester by trimester:

During the First Trimester

What to eat:
  • Starchy foods such as bread, porridge, plain biscuits,oatcakes, pasta, rice and potatoes
  • Ginger (this will help to curb nausea)
  • Foods high in folic acid, such as green, leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), pulses (chickpeas, beans, lentils) and fruits (citrus fruits, raspberries, strawberries). 
Other advice:
  • Eat small meals often.
  • Minimise your consumptions of fatty, hard-to-digest foods.
  • If you're experiencing morning sickness, keep a plain biscuit on your bedside table as a snack for when you wake up.
  • Don't overeat - you won't need to increase your food consumption ('eating for two') until later in your pregnancy, and even then, you will only have to increase your consumption by a few hundred calories.

During the Second Trimester 

What to eat:
  • Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines) twice a week
  • Wholemeal bread, cereals, and pasta
  • Oats, barley and pulses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lean meats such as chicken
Other advice:
  • Eat a variety of wholegrain foods, and up your consumption of water to avoid constipation.
  • Keep your iron levels at a healthy level by consuming lean meats, and plant-based sources such as dried apricots, spinach and lentils.
  • Include sources of vitamin C to aid your body's absorption of iron from plant sources.

During the Third Trimester 

What to eat:
  • Healthy fats from natural sources (found in foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, and salmon)
  • A good variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Calcium-rich foods such as plain yoghurt, canned fish and tofu

Other advice:
  • Avoid bending or lying down after eating to help prevent heartburn and indigestion.
  • Increase your food intake by 150-200 calories a day.
  • Try to optimise your vitamin D levels, with foods such as eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods, to avoid the risk of further aggravating symptoms of indigestion.
Click here for a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy, or return to the First Encounters homepage to find out about the 3D/4D scan packages we offer for expectant parents and their families!