Healthy Pregnancy Diet Guidelines

By EatingWell Editors

Steps for a healthy pregnancy.

Limit caffeine

While all experts agree that alcohol needs to be off-limits when you’re pregnant, there is not such a clear consensus on caffeine. Found in a few of our favorite vices, including coffee and chocolate, the stimulant crosses the placenta and can affect fetal heart rate and breathing. Some research links high caffeine intakes with low birth weight and increased risk of miscarriage—but in these studies it’s difficult to isolate the effects of caffeine from those of smoking and drinking alcohol. And while large doses of caffeine are associated with birth defects in lab animals, there’s no research to support this association in humans. Still, most experts recommend a conservative caffeine approach during pregnancy: cut it out entirely—or at least limit intake to about 300 mg a day, which generally equates to two to three cups of coffee. (Remember, a “cup” is 8 ounces, not the size of the mug you’re drinking from.) A cup of tea contains about 40 mg of caffeine; one ounce of dark chocolate has 20 mg.

Next: Tip 10—Evaluate Alternative Remedies »

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner