A café worker preparing a cup of coffee

How Much Caffeine is Safe During Pregnancy?

200 MG of caffeine is the maximum amount a pregnant person should have, but the effects of caffeine are not fully understood. UNM Health experts can help you learn the right caffeine intake for your pregnancy

If you have always relied on a morning coffee or energy drink, you might be wondering if those things are still okay to have while pregnant.

About 90% of people in the U.S. drink caffeine daily. Here at UNM, we agree with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): Patients should consume less than 200 mg of caffeine during pregnancy.

One or two cups of coffee will put you at your daily limit. The average cup of coffee brewed at home has 95 mg of caffeine. But the amount will depend on the brand and size. Always check how much caffeine is in each serving.

Not all caffeinated drinks are safe for pregnant people. Doctors and midwives do not recommend energy drinks to anyone during pregnancy. Energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine and many other ingredients that could be unsafe for pregnant people.

Let’s discuss what drinks and foods contain caffeine and why it’s important to watch how much you have during pregnancy.

What Foods and Drinks Have Caffeine

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in plants like tea leaves and coffee beans. It can also be made in a lab. Caffeine comes in common foods and drinks such as:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Coffee-containing foods like ice cream or yogurt
  • Energy bars (sports bars)
  • Energy drinks
  • Pre-workout powders
  • Soda
  • Tea
  • Yerba mate

Be sure to check food and drink labels for caffeine. During pregnancy, caffeine and other chemicals can cross the placenta and affect the pregnancy.

Here is a quick guide to how much caffeine one 8-ounce cup of coffee or tea contains on average: 

  • Brewed coffee = 96 mg
  • Brewed decaf coffee = 2 mg
  • Brewed black tea = 47 mg
  • Brewed green tea = 28 mg
  • Espresso = 64 mg

Many of these drinks contain a lot of extra sugar, too, which is not healthy for you or your pregnancy.

Problems from Drinking too Much Caffeine

During pregnancy, it takes up to three times longer for caffeine to leave your bloodstream. You could be more sensitive to its effects as a result. For example, your morning coffee could keep you awake at night.

The effects of caffeine on pregnancy are not well understood. Some studies say that too much caffeine can put your pregnancy at risk. Problems with too much caffeine can include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Having children with behavioral or attention problems
  • Having children with a low birthweight
  • High blood pressure (preeclampsia)

You are higher risk for problems with caffeine if you have certain health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high cholesterol. Caffeine can also interfere with some medications, such as mental health drugs or medicines for HIV/AIDS.

Talk with your doctor or midwife if you feel any of these side effects from drinking too much caffeine:

  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Higher body temperature
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Trembling hands

Drinking caffeine will make you need to urinate more. This will reduce the amount of fluid in your body. So, be sure to drink plenty of water after having caffeine.

Keep Your Energy Up Safely in Pregnancy

Hormone changes in pregnancy can make you feel tired. Instead of drinking more coffee, talk with your doctor or midwife. We can recommend safe alternatives to caffeine such as:

  • Adjusting exercise plans: We can help you determine if you are exercising enough or too much at any state of pregnancy.
  • Changing your schedule: Allow yourself to say “no” to added responsibilities and new plans.
  • Eating a healthy diet: We can check whether you are getting enough of the right calories, prenatal vitamins and nutrients to feel energized.
  • Getting more rest: Give yourself permission to sleep in, nap, and rest whenever possible.

Make sure to skip caffeine after lunchtime if you have a hard time sleeping during pregnancy. Though caffeine can help you feel more alert and awake, it cannot give you more energy.

Your health is our top priority. Call your doctor or midwife if you are concerned about how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. We are always here to answer your questions!

To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from Ob/Gyn care
Categories: Women's Health