According to a Danish study appearing in the November 2005 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, "Pregnant women who drink eight or more cups of coffee a day may be at a higher risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or fetal deaths." Granted, medical opinion is still mixed on the subject of caffeine, with some experts (including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) reporting that there is no harm in drinking a very small amount (less than two cups) of coffee or other caffeinated beverages per day during pregnancy. As is the case with many things in life, moderation is key. To be on the safe side, you're better off sticking to decaf.
Alcohol is one beverage to avoid altogether while you're pregnant. Remember that every time you drink a beer or a glass of wine, your baby does, too—it passes right into the placenta. Significant prenatal exposure to alcohol can lead to a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can impair your baby's growth and development and can cause permanent brain damage.
Herbal teas and remedies
Herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not usually rigorously tested like prescription and over-the-counter medications. Certain herbs (such as mugwort, pennyroyal, and goldenseal) have been associated with the onset of uterine contractions. Even drinking herbal teas is a bad idea, because doctors don't know what effects they might have on an unborn child. For these reasons, stick to regular decaffeinated tea until after you deliver and consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedy.
Everything else in moderation
During your pregnancy, you're eating for two—but that doesn't mean you need double the amount of calories and fat in your diet. According to the University of Chicago Primary Care Group, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for a pregnant woman calls for just 300 extra calories per day (the equivalent of a glass of orange juice and a bagel or a grilled chicken sandwich). Excess weight gain can not only make you feel more tired and achy during your pregnancy, but studies have found that women who put on more than the recommended weight are at higher risk of being obese later in life—especially if they fail to take off the weight after childbirth.
You don't have to deprive yourself of the foods you love during pregnancy. You can eat what you enjoy, provided that you take a few simple precautions for your health and for the health of your baby.