Be Wary of These Three Items

When you’re pregnant, you should think twice before using some substances. They may cause problems for you and your unborn baby. 


Caffeine is a stimulant drug. It’s found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. It’s also in some energy drinks and medicines. Caffeine increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause you to lose fluid from your body. It also crosses the placenta from you to your baby.

Your healthcare provider may suggest that you limit how much caffeine you have every day. An average 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee has 95 to 100 mg of caffeine. But the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies a lot.  

Studies show that having less than 200 mg of caffeine per day doesn’t increase your risk for problems with pregnancy. These include miscarriage or preterm birth. Still, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider first. Ask how much caffeine is safe for you. 

Tobacco and nicotine

Studies show that women who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are at risk for issues. These can include miscarriages and problems with the placenta. It can also increase the risk of your baby being born too early, being smaller than normal, or having birth defects.  

There may also be a link between smoking during pregnancy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. However, this link is not clear. Smoking during and after pregnancy is also a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

Your best bet is not to smoke. If you do smoke, get help to quit. Try to quit without nicotine replacement therapy, at least at first. Although nicotine patches, lozenges, and other treatments are considered safer than smoking, they may be risky during pregnancy.

Avoid being around people who are smoking, especially in the car or at home. Breathing in secondhand smoke is harmful for you and your baby. 


All types of alcohol can cause problems for you and your unborn baby. Alcohol crosses the placenta during pregnancy. This means that when you drink it, your baby does, too. No amount of alcohol in pregnancy is safe.

So, your best bet is to not drink any alcohol during pregnancy. Keep in mind that alcohol can be found in over-the-counter cough syrups and other medicines. Read the labels carefully. Check with your healthcare provider before taking any medicines.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 3/11/2016

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