How Much Caffeine Is Safe During Pregnancy?

Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg a day, including caffeinated foods
pregnant woman drinking coffee

Ah, nothing beats that first sip of coffee first thing in the morning. Pre-pregnancy, that first cup of coffee, tea or soft drink helped kickstart your day. 

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Now that you’re expecting, is it safe to drink caffeine or is it wise to hold off completely? Ob/Gyn Monica Svets, MD, talks about whether or not if it’s safe to drink caffeine while pregnant and how it can affect your baby.

How much is too much?

Most people get their liquid caffeine fix with a soft drink, energy drink, tea or coffee. If you’re pregnant, the American Pregnancy Organization recommends you limit your caffeine intake to 200 mg a day and this includes food with caffeine, too. 

But how do you know if you’re reaching your limit? Caffeine can be found in the following, and the amount can range from brand to how it’s prepared:

  • 1 soft drink can: 40 mg.
  • 1 mug of tea: 75 mg.
  • 1 250 ml can of an energy drink: up to 80 mg.
  • 1 mug of instant coffee: 100 mg.
  • 1 mug of filtered coffee: 140 mg.
  • Chocolate: 31 mg.
  • One mug of decaffeinated coffee: 12 mg.
  • One mug of hot chocolate: 9 mg.

“Be sure to let your doctor know how much caffeine you drink or eat so they can help guide you toward the right caffeine intake level,” says Dr. Svets.

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Will caffeine affect my pregnancy and baby?

During pregnancy, it can take longer for your body to metabolize caffeine. This means that you might have caffeine in your bloodstream for a while after you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages. You might hear this called “caffeine clearance,” which refers to how long it takes the caffeine to leave your bloodstream. 

The placenta provides your fetus with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Because of this, when you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, the fetus will be on the receiving end of it. While there are studies that have conflicting evidence, it’s best to keep your caffeine intake to under 200 mg. 

One study found that the amount of caffeine ingested while pregnant wouldn’t have an effect on the baby’s sleep during the first three months of their life. 

Researchers at the University of Pelotas looked at the children of nearly 900 women who consumed caffeine in pregnancy. They found caffeine consumption during pregnancy did not affect their baby’s sleep during the first three months. They also looked at women who consumed both caffeine and breastfed and found similar results.

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When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s possible your baby can feel the effects of caffeine. Another study reported that poor sleep patterns and fussiness was prevalent in babies whose mothers drank about 10 or more cups of coffee daily while breastfeeding. Those who drank more than 450 ml of coffee daily may have less iron in their breastmilk. 

“One cup of average brewed coffee is about 137 milligrams of caffeine and the studies all looked at 200 milligrams as being the cutoff,” says Dr. Svets. “So, if you have just one cup of brewed coffee a day, you should be fine.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also maintains the recommendation that moderate caffeine consumption does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.

If you’re unsure of how much caffeine is too much and have questions about your diet, talk to your doctor so you can both make the right decision for you and your baby. ​

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