Caffeine During Pregnancy: The Real Deal

caffeine during pregnancy coffee beans

A nice Brie. The lox on your bagel. A glass of Pinot. There’s already so much you have to give up when you’re pregnant—is it really necessary to lay off the latte too? Hang on to your mugs, ladies, you’re going to like this: The answer to “Can pregnant women drink coffee?”—and tea, for that matter—is: Yes! Yes, you can.

In this article:
How much caffeine can you have while pregnant?
Coffee during pregnancy
Tea during pregnancy

Only to a certain extent, of course: Almost all medical professionals agree that consuming small amounts of caffeine while pregnant is perfectly safe. But still, for those of us who need a boost of caffeine to be civilized in the morning, every delectable drop is greatly appreciated.

“The key for determining which coffees and teas are safer than others is to be aware of the caffeine content,” says Julia Ryan, MD, a neonatologist at Abington Hospital in Abington, PA. That’s because when you load up on caffeine during pregnancy, you’re not the only one who gets a buzz—baby does too. As Shar La Porte, a licensed midwife at Midwifery Care NYC, explains, “Caffeine crosses the placenta and has been found in amniotic fluid and fetal blood samples.” Because the liver isn’t fully developed yet, the jolt to baby’s system is greater than it is to yours, and it takes longer for the caffeine to leave her system.

So what does caffeine during pregnancy do to the fetus once it’s there? For one thing, it can cause baby’s heart to beat very fast, and it can lead to arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm, which is potentially dangerous, Ryan says. If consumed in large quantities, caffeine during pregnancy can make babies become dependent on it and then, when they’re born, they can be very irritable and exhibit withdrawal symptoms, similar to what happens in the case of drugs.

Fortunately, we’re talking only about large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy here. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you’ll easily stay within safe levels.

How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Pregnant?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a “moderate amount” of caffeine during pregnancy—defined as less than 200 milligrams per day—“does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.”

So how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee or tea? As you’ll see from the handy charts below, how much of your caffeinated drink you can have while pregnant depends on who’s making the coffee or tea and how big the cup is. Check them out, then scroll down for more details on coffee during pregnancy and tea during pregnancy. If you don’t find your favorite sip here, plug it into the search box at Caffeine Informer to find out its caffeine content. Remember, foods, such as chocolate, contain caffeine too, so take them into account when you choose your brew.

Here, a look at how much coffee during pregnancy is safe to drink:


Photo: Smart Up Visuals

See how much tea during pregnancy is safe to drink:


Photo: Smart Up Visuals

Coffee During Pregnancy

Caffeine levels can vary widely based on the type of bean, how long…

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