It’s a great question that’s sensible to ask at such a sensitive time in your life.
According to statistics we drink over 2 billion cups of coffee worldwide every single day. It gives you a buzz, it tastes delicious, and science tells us that it can even have health benefits, helping you burn fat, boost physical performance and maybe even help protect against dementia and type 2 diabetes.
Of course, caffeine, which is found in coffee beans, is a substance that, although legal, can be unsafely consumed in certain amounts, or it can be unsafe when you’re going through certain physical conditions, such as pregnancy. It’s a stimulant and boosts the brain and nervous system activity which is why you have to be careful when it comes to consuming it during this fragile time and you’re right to ask – can you drink coffee while pregnant?
To help you make sure you’re clued up on the use of caffeine during pregnancy, and you know how to keep coffee consumption safe whilst you’re growing a human, here’s a complete guide on the subject:
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that occurs naturally in tea, coffee and cacao. It has been present in soft drinks since the 1800’s and is an active stimulant that produces feelings of alertness whilst also staving off tiredness. It works on the brain and central nervous system and when you’ve had too much, you can usually feel shaky, jittery and you may even have heart palpitations. How much is too much is different depending on the (non-pregnant) person, as some people are more affected by it than others.
The chances are, if you do struggle with either of those things as a non-pregnant person it could be time to switch to decaf.
Can You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?
If you’re wondering – can you drink coffee while pregnant? You probably want to know if caffeine during pregnancy is a yes or a no, or if it is a yes, how much is safe.
The first and most important point to make when you ask – can you drink coffee while pregnant? Is that you need to trust your primary care provider first and foremost. They know your medical history and current condition, any risks you might have and whether or not caffeine during pregnancy is safe.
However, if you’re looking for some general guidance, there are some guidelines highlighted by trusted sources to give you an indication of how much caffeine you should consume during pregnancy. This includes all caffeinated products including; tea, coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. If you’re ever unsure if a product has caffiene in it or not, be sure to read the label.
First Things First… Why Avoid Caffeine During Pregnancy?
There are a few reasons that you should avoid caffeine during pregnancy including:
Caffeine & Miscarriages
There is conflicting evidence in regards to the effect of caffeine in relation to miscarriages. Some studies have suggested there is a link to caffeine consumption and miscarriage, some have suggested there is no link. For that reason, healthcare providers will generally advise you to avoid caffeine, or keep any consumption to around 200 grams a day.
Caffeine & Fertility Issues
Some studies do suggest that caffeine consumed in excess can make it harder to conceive, so it is best avoided completely (by you and your partner) when you’re trying for a baby, along with alcohol, processed foods, cigarettes and toxins.
Caffeine Could Cause Negative Pregnancy Outcomes
There are scientific papers that suggest caffeine during pregnancy could relate to some negative pregnancy outcomes and birth issues, such as lower birth weight. The evidence and connections are complex, and in some studies the link is made in animal studies, not in human studies. For that reason, it’s nothing to be scared about, but rather, a good reason to be wary about your caffeine consumption in pregnancy just in case it could contribute to any potential risks.
Caffeine Can Cause Anxiety
Caffeine can cause caffeine anxiety or it may simply make general anxiety worse because of how it affects the body. 1 in 10 pregnant women experience anxiety in pregnancy and if that is you, it could be worth avoiding caffeine altogether so that you don’t exacerbate your symptoms.
How Much Caffeine During Pregnancy Is OK?
So, can you drink coffee while pregnant? As it stands the advice is yes, but only a little.
The amount recommended is different depending on the organisation you speak to but tends to be about 200 grams. March Of Dimes, a trusted pregnancy charity suggest no more than 200 milligrams a day as does Tommy’s, a baby loss and pregnancy charity.
With that in mind, it’s a great idea to have an idea of how much caffeine is in different common food and drink products. This is helpful if you do choose to continue to consume caffeine during pregnancy, and to be aware of should you accidentally consume some.
Common caffeine amounts in different food and drink:
8 oz brewed coffee – 96 mg
1 oz espresso – 64 mg
8 oz instant coffee – 62 mg
8 oz black tear – 47 mg
8 oz green tea – 28 mg
12 oz Pepsi Zero – 69 mg
15 oz Monster Energy – 160 mg
16 oz Grande Starbucks Coffee Blonde Roast – 360 mg
16 oz Grande Starbucks American – 225 mg
14 oz Dunkin Donuts coffee – 210 mg
12 oz Sunkist 19 mg
1.5 oz Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar 9 mg
1.4 oz Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar – 20 mg
It is important to remember that these amounts are estimates and they will change depending on the manufacturer, product line, store or even natural variants in the drink. It is also really important to remember anything from chewing gum to ice cream can contain caffeine so get to know your labels.
Is Decaf Coffee OK?
Decaf coffee still contains coffee, as explained in this handy Youtube video. So it could enable you to drink items that taste like coffee with minimal caffeine levels, but do check the caffeine content as you’d be surprised how many milligrams of caffeine are in decaf products.
Always Speak To Your Healthcare Provider First
So, can you drink coffee while pregnant?
The information above can be used as a general guide as to how much caffeine you can drink when you are pregnant. Ideally, you will avoid it altogether but if you do consume it, the 200mg is a good ceiling amount per day as a guide unless you’re told otherwise by your healthcare provider.
Before you do anything else, though, avoid caffeine during pregnancy and first ask your doctor or OB-GYN what they recommend for your individual medical needs during this incredibly important time of your life.