If your morning latte is the only thing that stops you falling asleep on your desk, you may be worried about the idea of giving it up. Nine months is a lot of meetings to sleep through, after all. You are probably interested to find out whether you need to abstain completely or reduce the amount of coffee you drink each day.
So, coffee and pregnancy, do they mix?
How Much Coffee Can I Drink During Pregnancy?
Some women choose to abstain from coffee and other caffeinated drinks during pregnancy. Caffeine can travel through the placenta and reach your developing baby. Unlike alcohol, which pregnant women are advised to avoid completely, you are able to continue consuming caffeine throughout the pregnancy if you wish.
Experts recommend that you should limit your daily consumption to 200mg of caffeine a day. In coffee terms, this works out at about two cups of instant, or just one cup of filter coffee. This is assuming you are drinking from average sized coffee mugs, not the bucket-sized cups at your local coffee bar.
The 200mg recommendation includes all of your caffeine sources, not just coffee. Fizzy drinks, black tea, green tea and chocolate also contain caffeine and should be counted in your daily allowance. Use the following average caffeine content information to keep track of your intake:
- 1 mug of instant coffee – 100mg
- 1 mug of filter coffee – 140 mg
- 1 mug of tea – 75mg
- 1 mug of green tea – 50 mg
- 1 can of cola – 40 mg
- 50g plain chocolate – 50mg
- 50g milk chocolate – 25mg
It’s important that you count all of the above sources, so you can be sure you aren’t exceeding the recommended daily allowance of 200mg.
Risk Of Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy
After you consume caffeine, you may notice an increase in your baby’s movements. This is because the caffeine has travelled across the placenta and has affected your baby.
Research has found that caffeine consumption exceeding 200mg per day is linked to low birth weight and miscarriage. According to this study:
“Caffeine is rapidly absorbed and crosses the placenta freely. After ingestion of 200 mg caffeine, intervillous blood flow in the placenta was found to be reduced by 25%. Cytochrome P450 1A2, the principal enzyme involved in caffeine metabolism, is absent in the placenta and the fetus.”
BMC Central has published research this year (2013) which again produced results showing that caffeine is implicated with low birth weight. They found that for a baby expected to be of average birth weight (3.6kg), it equated to a loss of 21-28 grams per 100mg of caffeine consumed per day. Caffeine also extended the length of pregnancy by 5 hours per 100mg of caffeine per day. However caffeine intake originating from coffee was associated with an even longer pregnancy – 8 hours longer for every 100mg of caffeine per day.
What Can I Drink Instead Of Coffee?
There are plenty of drinks you can enjoy instead of your usual coffee, include:
- Decaffeinated coffee – this is the easiest switch because it maintains the great taste you love. However some coffee makers decaffeinate their coffee beans with nasties – make sure you find a coffee that is decaffeinated with the carbon dioxide method.
- Fruit teas
- Herbal teas
- Fruit juice – a great way to increase your fruit intake and enjoy a healthy diet during pregnancy
- Milk (try almond milk and oat milk for something dairy free – chocolate almond milk is divine!)
- Water – your body needs more water during pregnancy, you should be drinking eight glasses a day, so water is a great choice for a drink to replace coffee. If you’re not great at drinking water, try adding a slice or two of lemon and/or lime, or keeping a water bottle on hand and taking sips, or have a straw in your glass and sip.
Check out our article on tea during pregnancy for more suggestions of teas that you can enjoy during pregnancy.
Going Caffeine Free
Some women choose to give up caffeine completely during pregnancy. If you choose to do this, you may suffer from caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms should disappear within a week, but could include:
- Difficulty concentrating