WHMC Blog

Can I Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

By: Whittier Hospital Medical Center

Pregnancy is an exciting time for many expectant families, but there is a huge amount of information about what pregnant individuals should and shouldn’t do. One hotly debated topic is caffeine consumption. Learn more about caffeine and how it can affect your pregnancy.

Can I Still Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

Many studies have been conducted on the effects of caffeine consumption while pregnant. And while there’s no conclusive answer yet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that expectant individuals should limit their consumption of caffeine. The recommended limit is 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is approximately the amount in an 11-ounce cup of coffee. Other foods, medications, and beverages may contain caffeine as well, so it is important to understand that the total amount of caffeine you’re consuming may surpass this limit if you aren’t mindful.

The Effects of Caffeine on Pregnancy

While small amounts of caffeine haven’t been found to cause significant changes in pregnancy, levels over 300mg of caffeine per day have been linked to reduced birth size, according to the ACOG. Because caffeine can cross the placenta, your baby can be exposed to caffeine, and their developing system is unable to process the substance appropriately. Babies exposed to high levels of caffeine during the gestational period are more likely to be significantly small for their gestational age.

Caffeine can also affect pregnant people differently. As your pregnancy progresses, your body’s ability to process caffeine is diminished. Caffeine will linger longer in your system and can increase the exposure of your baby to caffeine. Fetuses are still developing their metabolism, and they aren’t able to properly metabolize caffeine the way adults do. Limiting your caffeine intake reduces the amount of exposure your child may experience.

In addition to affecting your child, caffeine affects your body. Caffeine is a stimulant, and can increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This can be harmful to pregnant individuals. Caffeine is also a diuretic, and can cause dehydration and frequent urination.

What Foods and Drinks Contain Caffeine?

While coffee and energy drinks are well known for the amount of caffeine they contain, many other foods and drinks contain high doses as well. Research your favorite treats and beverages to learn about their caffeine levels. Here are some items that contain caffeine;

Drinks:

  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Iced tea
  • Chocolate milk
  • Hot cocoa
  • Energy-boosting waters

Foods:

  • Dark and milk chocolate
  • Coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Chocolate chips
  • Protein bars
  • Energy candies or gum

Medications:

  • Migraine medications, like Excedrin
  • Menstrual relief medication, such as Midol
  • Energy supplements
  • Weight loss supplements
  • Some daily vitamins

Avoiding caffeine during your pregnancy can be difficult. Caffeine is present in many popular foods and drinks, and small amounts can be found in unexpected items. Read labels carefully for caffeine content, and ask your doctor for recommended alternatives to high-caffeine products, including medications.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.