A new study of over 4000 babies suggests that caffeine consumption among expectant or new mothers does not affect the nighttime sleeping habits of their newborns.
Researchers in Pelotas, Brazil wanted to see if the restlessness caused by caffeine in adults, might be passed on to infants in utero or via breastmilk. During pregnancy moms answered questions about their caffeine consumption– almost every single mom drank some caffeine and about one in five was considered a “heavy caffeine drinker,” consuming more than 300 milligrams or more of caffeine per day, via either coffee or mate (a tea-like drink popular in the region). According to the Mayo Clinic, 300 milligrams of caffeine translates to two to four cups of brewed coffee.
Fourteen percent of the moms continued to drink this much coffee in the first three months postpartum. Researchers looked at the babies sleep habits including number of number of times they woke up in the night and the total hours slept in a 24 hour period.
The conclusion: caffeine consumption during pregnancy, even “heavy consumption,” is not associated with unusually disrupted sleep in infants.
Generally, pregnant women are encouraged to cut down on caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Studies have shown that drinking between 150-300 milligrams of caffeine a day does not have adverse affects on newborns. However, animal studies suggest that excessive caffeine in mothers can cause preterm birth and birth defects in offspring. We know caffeine is a stimulant so it keeps mom awake (which can be hard if you have pregnancy-related insomnia or sleep loss), and it crosses the placenta to the fetus so there’s concern about over stimulation in utero. But again, a cup or two seems to be fine and from my experience most pregnant women are pretty happy with that amount. (It’s life with a newborn that gets you hitting that French press in a hard way.)
photo credit: Ahmed Rabea