Caffeine, Alcohol, Exercise and Other Lifestyle Tips for Pregnant Women

The lifestyle pattern can significantly affect pregnancy in many ways, based on the choices we make. Dietary habits, exercise and alcohol consumption are the most prominent. Pregnancy is testy period when ensuring an optimal environment for fetal growth and development is essential. 

Caffeine consumption is on top of the lifestyle habits that has generated a lot of scrutiny because is common and its marked stimulant effect, depression of appetite and reduction in weight observed in non-pregnant individuals has aroused the need for caution in its use. Studies have produced conflicting results on various outcomes in pregnancy. What is NOT disputed is the fact that caffeine crosses the placenta to get to the baby in significant amounts. There is conclusive evidence that caffeine results in significant reduction in birth weights on newborn. Whether consumption affects the risk for spontaneous abortion is debatable, although there is some strong evidence that the risk for a miscarriage is higher among consumers (at least 100mg per day) in the first three months of pregnancy (First trimester).  

This risk is not uniform because there is a wide difference in the way caffeine is handled in the body among individuals. In some people, it is broken down faster and excreted more easily, so that harmful effects are minimized. The general recommendation is that caffeine consumption be limited to 150mg daily for everyone, especially in the light of the observation that caffeine consumption has been associations in some individuals with difficulties conceiving. 

Alcohol consumption is as old as the history of man. The risk of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is notable. Fetal alcohol syndrome characterized by mental retardation is a serious complication of alcohol intake in pregnancy. The main problem with alcohol is that there is no known safe level of consumption in pregnancy. What has made it even more interesting is the fact that some researchers have noted that with a consumption of less than one drink per week in pregnancy the offspring may still have problems with mental health. 

Cigarette smoking is has a notoriety that is legendary. It is associated with host of problems for both the mother and the fetus such as; miscarriage, premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction (Poor fetal growth), placental abruption (separation of the placenta before delivery, which invariably leads to fetal exsanguination), sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking cessation during pregnancy reduces these risks and it a project that must be pursued deliberately, conscientious and with a lot of determination.

Exercise is safe exercise during pregnancy and it should be encouraged. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises two or three days weekly is not a bad idea. Exercise has been suggested to prevent abnormally elevated blood sugar in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) the subsequent large babies weighing more than 4.0kg (Fetal macrosomia). What you need to avoid are exercises that increase the risk for abdominal impact after three months because at that time the uterus has grown into the abdomen where it is prone to direct trauma. These activities include soccer, hockey, and basketball, as well as sports with a fall risk, such a skiing, rollerblading, and horseback riding.