If you’re anything like me, you probably need a morning brew of coffee to feel human. But what about when you’re expecting a baby? Can you still drink coffee when you’re pregnant? Or does pregnancy mean saying goodbye to your beloved caffeine fix for a whole 9 months?
If you're a pregnant coffee lover and you're starting to panic about the prospect of no coffee over the next few months, I may be have some good news for you...
Do I need to cut coffee/caffeine out completely now I'm pregnant?
The short answer is...no! You'll be pleased to hear that you do not have to cut coffee out of your diet completely just because you're expecting a baby.
Having said that, it is important to be aware that caffeine isn’t just found in coffee. It’s also found in energy/fizzy drinks, chocolate and tea. So when it comes to caffeine and pregnancy, it’s important to consider your diet as a whole, not just how much coffee you drink.
How much coffee can I drink in pregnancy?
NHS England and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that pregnant peeps should aim for less than 200mg of caffeine per day.
But what does 200mg of caffeine actually look like?
Well, there is:
100mg in a mug of instant coffee
140mg in a mug of filter coffee
75mg in a mug of tea (green tea can have the same amount of caffeine as regular tea)
40mg in a can of cola
80mg in a 250ml can of energy drink
less than 25mg in a 50g bar of plain dark chocolate
less than 10mg in a 50g bar of plain milk chocolate
So, in terms of coffee, you would be well within the recommended limit if you drank two cups per day. So there's no need to say goodbye to your morning brew after all- woohoo!
If you're an avid coffee lover and want to check what your daily caffeine intake actually is, Tommys have a free caffeine calculate you can use. This will give you a really good idea about what your overall caffeine levels are like compared to the NHS guidelines.
If you want a nosey at what other food and drinks to be mindful of in pregnancy, the NHS have the most up to date guidance on foods to avoid.
How can caffeine affect pregnancy?
There are some studies that suggest high caffeine intake has potential associations with some pregnancy complications.
It’s important to know that the evidence around this is really limited and often conflicting, so guidelines on caffeine consumption in pregnancy tend to air on the side of caution.
One study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in 2021 found that consuming a low amount of caffeine during pregnancy could actually help to reduce gestational diabetes risk.
The published findings say
“We now know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or Hypertension for expectant mother […] our findings may provide some reassurance to women who are already consuming low to moderate levels of caffeine that such consumption likely will not increase their maternal health risk.”
Good news if you're already a pregnant coffee lover!
Side note - it’s important to say that this study from 2021 isn’t advising you to start drinking coffee in pregnancy if you don’t already do so.
Alternatives to caffeinated drinks
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake or cut it out altogether during pregnancy, there are some great options to try instead of reaching for a cup of coffee.
You could try:
· Herbal tea: Herbal teas are usually low in caffeine or caffeine free but just make sure to check the label first. Hottea Mama have some amazing herbal teas to support you during pregnancy and beyond so do check them out.
· Decaffeinated coffee: Decaf is a great alternative to regular coffee.
· Hot water and lemon: Hot water and lemon is a lovely refreshing option. Add a teaspoon of honey or some fresh ginger if you like!
Ask an expert
If you find yourself struggling with reducing your caffeine intake during pregnancy, have a chat with your GP or midwife and they should be able to offer you further support. Some people find gently weaning themselves off caffeine is a better approach to going cold turkey.
The bottom line when it comes to coffee and pregnancy
The good news is that there’s no need to give up coffee during pregnancy, so rest assured that you can still enjoy your beloved morning ritual. Whether it's piping hot or chilled over ice, it's reassuring to know that you can still enjoy your favourite drink whilst looking after your lovely bump.
Like most things in life, moderation is really the key here when it comes to caffeine.
If you're looking for more tips and advice on navigating pregnancy, birth and motherhood, check out my other blog posts!
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