If you are trying for a baby or already pregnant, it’s essential that you educate yourself on what is and isn’t safe to consume whilst expecting. Certain beverages can be harmful to your unborn baby, which is why it is so important that you know what to avoid. Here is our guide to what not to drink whilst pregnant.
Pregnant people should avoid alcohol completely, as drinking can cause serious harm to your unborn baby. Even small amounts of alcohol can negatively affect your baby’s development.
When you drink, alcohol will enter your bloodstream and cross the placenta to the baby. If you are breastfeeding, alcohol can enter the baby through breast milk. A baby affected by alcohol is often smaller at birth and may have physical problems, including heart problems. In a small number of cases, babies suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and have cognitive problems with learning, speech, attention span and hyperactivity.
Scientists have not been able to establish an alcohol consumption threshold beyond which detrimental effects occur in the baby. Therefore the safest course of action is to avoid all alcohol while pregnant. The more alcohol you have, the greater risk of an effect on the baby.
Do you rely on constant cups of coffee and tea to get through your day? While you won’t need to quit altogether during pregnancy, you may need to cut back. The effect of caffeine during pregnancy is dose-related, and we suggest limiting your intake to less than 200 milligrams per day. This is around two cups a day.
Caffeine is absorbed very quickly and easily crosses the placenta. As unborn babies do not have the enzyme required to metabolise caffeine, this can cause complications. In fact, high caffeine intake can potentially reduce blood flow to the baby and put him or her at risk of growth restriction.
Beyond tea and coffee, caffeine is also present in soft drinks and energy drinks, often in a concentrated form. For example, Red Bull contains 33mg of caffeine per 100ml, while Lucozade has 12mg per 100ml. In addition to drinks, caffeine can be found in chocolate, cocoa, coffee flavoured products (such as ice cream), and some mints, gums and sweets – particularly those that claim to increase your energy.
While restricting caffeine intake to 200mg per day is wise, it is important to ensure that that includes sweetened drinks and caffeine-filled food.
Unpasteurised milk or juice
Pregnant people should also be careful of the milk and juice they consume. Unpasteurised milk and juice may contain a host of harmful bacteria, such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter, which can have life-threatening consequences for an unborn child.
Pasteurisation is the process of heating milk and juice to eliminate harmful bacteria whilst maintaining their nutritional value. For the safety of you and your baby, you should ensure that you only drink milk and juice that has been pasteurised during pregnancy.
Need help making lifestyle changes? See a O&GCG Obstetrician
While pregnancy is a time of change, some lifestyle changes can be hard to make. At O&GCG, our obstetricians are here to help you adjust to pregnant life and can point you in the right direction if you need extra support.
Education is an essential part of antenatal care. If you have any questions or concerns during your pregnancy, do not hesitate to get in touch – our obstetricians would love to see you.