Coffee pregnancy: can you drink coffee while pregnant?

Everything you need to know about consuming caffeine in pregnancy

Content Editor / March 07 2019

If you can’t go without your routine of having a morning latte or your cup of tea last thing at night, you may be wondering how you’ll survive without it in pregnancy. The good news is, you can still indulge in your favourite cuppa, as long as it’s in moderation.

Can you drink coffee during pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, you can still drink coffee while pregnant. You don’t need to cut caffeine out of your diet entirely, but you may need to cut back. Experts say that you should limit your intake to less than 200mg per day, which equates to one café-made coffee or two cups of instant coffee, OR two to three cups of tea.

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Why do I need to cut back on coffee while pregnant?
While studies vary when it comes to the impact of caffeine on an unborn child, it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to coffee drinks. If you regularly consume more than 200mg of caffeine a day while pregnant, you may have an increased risk of miscarriage or having a baby with a low birth weight. Babies who are born with a low birth weight have a higher risk of health problems as they get older.

Caffeine is also a stimulant, which means it influences your nervous system, giving you a buzz and sending messages to and from your brain more rapidly. So, when you drink a coffee, your energy levels increase along with your heart rate and blood pressure. And your heart rate and blood pressure need to stay within a healthy range when you are pregnant.

Something else to bear in mind that caffeine can cross the placental barrier and reach your baby in a very short time, usually around 15 minutes. Your unborn baby is unable to process such as caffeine and may experience effects such as an increased heart rate, alertness and nervous stimulation or tremors. Also, caffeine constricts blood vessels and may reduce blood flow to the placenta.

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What other foods and drinks include caffeine?
The 200mg limit includes all forms of caffeine, so that’s coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, hot chocolates, coke and energy drinks. Bear in mind too that some cafes serve stronger coffees than others, so ask for a weak or small coffee rather than a double-shot cappuccino. If you’re at all concerned about your coffee intake, speak with your general practitioner.

How much caffeine is in food and drinks?
The approximate amounts of caffeine found in food and drinks are as follows:

one cup of instant coffee: 60–80mg
one cup of filtered coffee: 60–120mg
one cup of tea: 10–50mg
one 375g can of cola: 48.75mg
one 250ml can of energy drink: 80mg
one 100g bar of milk chocolate: around 20mg

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getty images

Can I drink decaffeinated tea and coffee?
Decaffeinated drinks are a great option for pregnant women. Decaffeinated tea, decaf coffee and cola may give you the flavour you crave without the caffeine kick. Milk, fruit juice, sparkling water and herbal teas are other good healthy options, however speak with your general practitioner before choosing herbal teas as some contain certain herbs and additives that may not be safe in pregnancy. Peppermint tea, ginger tea and rooibos tea are good options. Pukka Teas also make a delicious range of pregnancy teas.

Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.

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