No matter how you slice it, pregnancy and all of its glorious hormones can leave a gal quite tired. Of course, everyone has their vices — for some reason, my cravings had me screaming, "FRUIT!" at perfect strangers throughout my pregnancy — that help to navigate the urge to curl up in a ball and sleep for days. But is there anything that quite does the trick like your beloved cup of coffee? Doctors say it's OK to indulge within reason during pregnancy, but what about other pick-me-ups? Can you drink energy drinks when you're pregnant?
"Energy drinks usually contain carbohydrates, B vitamins, and caffeine," Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper in an email interview. "These ingredients are safe in pregnancy, as long as not consumed in excess."
Bohn says she recommends pregnant women do not drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. She encourages pregnant women to read labels and take note of the amount of caffeine so they do not exceed the recommend intake.
So what does 200 milligrams of caffeine look like? It’s technically about two 8.5-ounce Red Bulls, but it’s important to know that the amount of caffeine in various energy drinks can differ. For example, one 24-ounce Mega Monster Energy Drink has 240 milligrams of caffeine, while one 2-ounce 5-Hour Energy packs exactly 200 milligrams into its tiny bottle.
But Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a New York-based cardiologist and internist at Columbia Presbyterian, tells Romper that "while there is no formal study showing energy drinks to be harmful in pregnancy, I generally tell my patients to avoid them." Haythe says it's the excess sugar, salt, and caffeine that causes her to give the drinks a thumbs down.
"Sugar means calories and sugary drinks can cause weight gain and spikes in blood glucose levels. While sodium itself is not restricted in normal pregnancy, elevated quantities in an energy drink can lead to fluid retention and possibly hypertension." Haythe also says the high doses of caffeine found in many energy drinks can lead to heart palpitations and possibly growth restrictions in the baby when consumed in excess.
Bohn agrees, adding that moderation — or complete avoidance — is key when choosing energy drinks during pregnancy. "The carbohydrates can lead to extra calories, too, so you don't want to add excess calories that you are not aware of," she says.
As always, talk to your healthcare provider before using an energy drink to kick a post-lunch slump. Like many things during pregnancy — exercise, coffee, and, yes, even Brie — moderation is key.