Can I have caffeine while pregnant?

It’s a good idea to limit caffeine during pregnancy. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant to your central nervous system, and its effects on an unborn child have not been tested conclusively. One to two five-ounce cups of coffee a day is acceptable. Soft drinks and tea also contain caffeine, so limit those as well.

It is generally recommended that you avoid caffeine or limit your intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you do consume caffeinated drinks (such as coffee, tea and soda), limit them to one to two cups or no more than 200 milligrams a day (the amount in one 12-ounce cup of coffee) or try decaffeinated beverages. If you are a heavy caffeine user, remember that you may have withdrawal headaches if you abruptly stop using caffeine. Discuss with your healthcare provider how you can most comfortably and safely decrease your caffeine intake.

The research on caffeine is very inconsistent. Some studies show a relationship between caffeine and miscarriage rate, while others do not. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) claims that there is no proof that caffeine causes miscarriage, but also recommends that women may want to avoid or limit caffeine intake during pregnancy. After decades of controversy and conflicting evidence, there’s still no real consensus on how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. Until the scientific literature provides more direction, many new mothers (and obstetricians and midwives) err on the side of caution and follow the March of Dime’s recommendation of no more than 200mg/day (that’s about one 12-ounce cup of coffee).

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The good news is that you won’t have to give up caffeine completely if you’re pregnant. But, it’s important to pay attention and limit your intake. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, all women of reproductive age should not have more than 300mg of caffeine a day. That’s two mugs of filtered coffee or three cups of tea. When pregnant, it’s healthier to reduce that amount to no more than 200 mg per day. More than that has been linked to an increase risk of miscarriage and low weight for your baby at birth which could lead to current or future health problems for the newborn.

But remember caffeine is not only in coffee. Caffeine is most commonly found in teas, sodas, energy drinks and chocolate. Not all herbal teas are caffeine-free so make sure you read the ingredient labels. Caffeine can also be found in some prescription and over the counter drugs such as allergy, cold and headache medication. A total count of 200 mg of caffeine can be found in: 2 cups of instant coffee, 1 cup of filtered coffee, two mugs of tea, four mugs of green tea, three cans of cola, two cans of energy drinks, four small chocolate bars (plain) or eight small bars of milk chocolate.

Caffeine acts as a stimulant increasing your alertness, heart rate and metabolism. It has the same effect on your fetus when you consume it, so too much can be very harmful. Stick to a maximum of 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day between meals.

Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics you should limit your daily calorie intake to 300 mg/day to reduce your risk for spontaneous miscarriage and low birth weight. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that moderate daily intake of caffeine (200 mg) appears safe, which is the approximate amount of caffeine in two 8 ounce cups of coffee. A typical carbonated 12 oz soda contains 18 to 48 mg.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.