Having a baby can be the most exciting thing in your life. Seeing the positive result on the test is bound to be a thrill, whether it’s in the bathroom or the clinic.
Still, all that excitement comes with just as much if not more responsibility.
Any woman who manages to conceive becomes obligated to take even greater care of her body for the next year or so. And anyone who commits to supporting her has to also be capable of helping her make the right decisions. Especially with changes to her daily routine.
So, can a pregnant woman keep drinking her usual energy drinks to keep up with her routine?
Nope, definitely not. Experts recommend avoiding energy drinks altogether during pregnancy, even if they don’t have more than the allowable amount of caffeine in their formula.
What is it about energy drinks that make them so bad for pregnant women? A lot of things, to be honest. Keep reading, and we can go over the situation bit by bit.
Why Drink Energy Drinks?
Most people drink energy drinks because they drink coffee: for a boost in energy and focus.
It’s no secret that modern life is demanding. Demands, obligations, and challenges pile up quickly no matter how tired you are or how much else you already have on your plate. More so when you have a job involving tedious and repetitive tasks or are a student.
As we all know, most people cope with this by drinking coffee. And why not? It gives a decent boost via caffeine, has natural ingredients, and is easy to get under most circumstances. You can even control what does and doesn’t go into it if you make it yourself!
Thing is, we aren’t all into the coffee. For one thing, the amount of caffeine that goes into each cup can vary a lot depending on who made it and how it was made. Another thing some don’t like about coffee is the taste; unless you load it up with tons of sugar and creamer, it’s bitter.
What do energy drinks have that coffee lacks then? The first thing that comes to mind is the B-vitamins and the supplements manufacturers use to increase how much energy and focus you get from a serving.
As for how helpful those actually are, that’s debatable.
Another thing energy drinks have in their favor is that you always know exactly how much caffeine you’re getting. All you need to do is look at the back of the can to see it!
When Is A Pregnancy At Its Most Delicate?
The first trimester is the most delicate part of a woman’s pregnancy.
For some context, pregnancy is divided into three parts. We call these parts trimesters to mark different parts of a fetus’ development and figure out whether or not it’s growing properly.
This is important since it allows doctors to see if a fetus has issues that need to be addressed before the baby is born.
Of the three, the first trimester (weeks 1-12) is the most delicate since this is when the baby’s vital organs and systems begin to form.
This is also the time most birth defects and miscarriages happen. So the mother needs to avoid anything that may put the child’s health at risk. Any exposure to drugs, illness, tobacco, or alcohol carries the risk of damaging the fetus’ health.
Things are more stable in the second trimesters (weeks 12-24) since the fetus’ body is mostly complete at this point. From here, its development can focus on getting bigger and heavier to survive life outside the womb.
Finally, the third trimester (weeks 24-40) is all about the mother preparing for the birth. As for the baby, they should be able to see, hear, and suck their thumbs. Their brain, heart, and lungs will still need more time to fully develop, but they’re mostly ready for life after birth.
What Are the Usual Energy Drink Ingredients?
Energy drink formulas vary wildly between brands. However, they always contain caffeine and often have sugar, taurine, and B-vitamins.
Iconic brands like Red Bull, NOS, and Monster have garnered criticism and scrutiny for many reasons over the years. Most of them can be summarized as having a combination of sugar, caffeine, and taurine that many think isn’t good for the human body.
If these substances aren’t good for the human body, then what are they doing in energy drinks? Good question.
Caffeine’s purpose in the formula is obvious. It’s a stimulant, which makes it great for making sure you stay awake and alert throughout the day. It also makes your body function faster while you’re under its effects.
Sugar is there for a similar purpose. The quick energy spikes it gives can be really helpful when struggling with tedious tasks or physically demanding activities. As long as you can avoid the crash anyway.
Taurine is probably the ingredient most people are least familiar with.
For the specifics, Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that’s mostly found in the eyes, heart, brain, and muscles. Besides energy drinks and supplements, they can be found in meat, fish, and seafood.
Taurine is important to many functions in the body including:
- Maintaining hydration in cells
- Supporting immune system function
- Maintaining electrolyte count in cells
- Regulating calcium on a cellular level
- Regulating antioxidant functions
These are why taurine is believed to give better heart health, athletic performance, and immune system health.
Caffeine During Pregnancy
As mentioned, caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake and ready to go while you have it in your system. Thing is, as much as it’s praised for its performance-boosting effects, it’s just as infamous for ruining sleep schedules.
As for how much caffeine anyone can drink before problems arise, experts say the average healthy adult can drink up to 400mg of caffeine in one day. Any more than that, and most people will end up experiencing the side effects.
Some of the known side effects of caffeine are:
- Insomnia (not being able to sleep properly)
- Foul mood (Irritability)
- Constantly needing the toilet (Frequent urination)
- Palpitations (Fast heartbeat)
- Twitching (Muscle tremors)
So how does pregnancy affect all this? Pregnancy makes a woman more susceptible to the side effects of caffeine than usual. Thanks to that, pregnant women are advised to drink no more than 200mg. They must also be mindful of what sources of caffeine they choose.
Sources of caffeine outside energy drinks include:
- Soft drinks (Sodas)
- Some medications
How does caffeine affect a fetus?
Studies show that caffeine causes a constriction of blood vessels in the uterus and placenta, which might restrict the blood flow to the embryo and slow its development. In other words, when caffeine consumed by a pregnant woman is passed to her unborn child, this might accumulate and potentially have a negative impact on the cognitive and behavioral results of the child.
As a result, pregnant women should avoid caffeine at all costs. Caffeine use during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and possibly other health complications.
Can caffeine cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy?
The risk of miscarriage is somewhat higher for women who consume throughout the first trimester. This is primarily due to the fact that caffeine intake alters endogenous hormone levels, and these changes in hormones may impact the chance of miscarriage.
However, the links between caffeine and hormone concentrations have yet to be thoroughly confirmed given the fact that physiologic processes alter during pregnancy. However, to be on the safe side, pregnant women should avoid consuming any caffeine since the risks are quite high.
When should you avoid caffeine during pregnancy?
No amount of caffeine use is considered safe during pregnancy. Several studies have shown that women who drink coffee during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage or even a stillbirth.
The risk of miscarriage was also increased in pregnant women who drank more coffee after becoming pregnant. Hence, Consider switching to a non-caffeinated or decaffeinated beverage.
Energy Drink Ingredients That May Be Bad for Pregnant Women
Even when they have less than 200mg of caffeine, energy drinks are bad for pregnant women since they often have a lot of sugar and other additives that don’t provide any nutrition the baby can benefit from.
When a woman gets pregnant, she becomes solely responsible for providing food for the baby via the placenta and umbilical cord. That means whatever the woman eats or drinks gets passed on to the child as well—including all the ingredients in whatever energy drinks she takes.
And not all the effects of all the ingredients used in energy drinks have been properly studied yet. That makes it hard to predict what kind of effects any of them will have on a fetus.
The long lists of ingredients in most formulas also make it hard to determine which can cause an overdose or any other side effects.
It might not be possible to talk about everything that goes into every energy drink, but here’s a quick rundown of what the majority of energy drinks use.
The most commonly used artificial sweeteners in energy drinks are sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K). These are often used as a calorie-free substitute for sugar for sugar-free energy drinks.
But sometimes, they’re used together with sugar to make the product even sweeter than usual.
The thing here is, there’s little research that confirms the safety of artificial sweeteners for pregnant women. As many would put it, better be safe than sorry.
B-vitamins are normally good for the body because they aid metabolism and many other processes. This is why B-vitamins are believed to provide you with more energy and better focus and are considered a good thing to have in an energy drink.
Also, the components of the Vitamin B-complex are all water-soluble. They dissolve in water, so if you end up with more than you need, it’ll just come out through your urine.
Normally that means, you’re not likely to get an overdose on any of them outside of when you use medication and supplements.
However, there’s little research to support the idea that they enhance performance.
The amounts found in one serving of most energy drinks exceed the recommended daily intakes.
Besides the usual perils of eating too much sugar, it’s not uncommon for women to have gestational diabetes.
In this scenario, the excessive amounts of sugar in some brands may make it hard to regulate their carbohydrate and sugar intakes.
Very little is known about the ways taurine can affect a fetus or a healthy pregnancy.
There is a lack of studies that examine the long-term effects of ginseng. It’s also known to cause headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems.
Glucuronolactone is a substance that can either be found in the body or synthesized like taurine. It can serve many purposes, including acting as an antioxidant.
Glucuronolactone is also believed to give people more energy, but there’s nothing that confirms this. As such, it’s best to avoid it during pregnancy.
Like Taurine, L-carnitine (levocarnitine) is an amino acid that can be both produced naturally by the body and found in supplements. It’s important to energy production because it helps with breaking down fat.
However, like many of the other things on this list, few studies show that it actually affects physical performance.
Can You Drink Energy Drinks While Breastfeeding?
Drinking energy drinks while nursing is inadvisable.
Just like pregnancy, caring for a newborn can be extremely exhausting. I’ve seen enough to safely say I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to drink a cup of coffee or a can of Red Bull to keep up.
But as tempting as it might be, I still think you should remember that babies receive nutrition through breast milk as they do through the umbilical cord. That is, whatever a mother eats or drinks goes straight to the baby too.
Babies are sensitive to caffeine too. So drinking a cup of coffee or an energy drink might just make them even more irritable and unable to sleep than they already are.
And considering how much a single can have in its formula, I’d strongly recommend talking it over with a doctor before buying anything if you really want an energy drink.
No, you cannot drink energy drinks while pregnant. Doing so might put your health and the baby in danger.
I have to admit, researching for this reminded me of just how hard it is to make a pregnancy work. So I can imagine wanting more energy to keep up with it and all of life’s demands.
Even so, I strongly suggest finding some other food or drink to energize while pregnant. A can of NOS or G Fuel might feel good at the moment, but the potential long-term consequences might not be worth it.