One of the most common questions women have during pregnancy is:
Can I still have my morning coffee?
This is often followed by:
What are the risks? Will my baby be hyperactive or a bad sleeper? What about decaf, is that safe?
Many of us love our coffee, so this is an important topic! Statistics show that 75% of Australians enjoy at least one cup of coffee per day but what are the risks of drinking it during pregnancy?
Like most things nutrition related, it’s not always a straightforward answer.
Yes, you can have your morning coffee during pregnancy (yay!) HOWEVER – there are restrictions to your overall caffeine consumption throughout the day.
Research from 20-30 years ago showed a higher intake of caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage and having a low birth weight baby. From this research, it is recommended to keep caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg per day. This equates to about two coffees per day, as one coffee contains around 100mg. Keep in mind if you have a regular or large coffee, this will have two or three shots of coffee and could add up to 300mg of caffeine.
Further studies have been conducted by researchers to try and confirm or refute the 200mg caffeine limit during pregnancy, however, the results have been mixed. A major review of 53 studies was also conducted to find a more precise safe level of caffeine. This review found that whilst it is clear that higher levels of caffeine were linked to increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight baby, there was no clear threshold at which caffeine was either safe or harmful. As a result, the recommendation of a 200mg caffeine limit during pregnancy stands.
For now, stay on the safe side and keep caffeine intake below 200mg. This includes all sources of caffeine, not just coffee.
Here is a guide to caffeine levels in food and drinks:
1 teaspoon Instant coffee: 60mg
1 cup percolated coffee:100mg
1 small espresso coffee (latte, cap etc): 90mg
Black tea: 50mg
Green tea: 30mg
Energy drinks: 80mg
Cola 375ml can: 35mg
50g chocolate: 40mg
What about decaf?
As we are concerned about the caffeine in coffee, decaf is perfectly safe during pregnancy. If you are buying this from a café, make sure it is Swiss water decaf as this is made using a chemical-free decaffeination process.
Will I have a sleepless or unsettled baby?
We do know that caffeine crosses the placenta and that baby’s caffeine levels are similar to mums but there is no scientific evidence that you will have a restless/poor sleeping baby if you consume caffeine during pregnancy.
As always though, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you are uneasy about consuming caffeine during pregnancy then don’t let others sway you. Always do what is best for you and your baby.
If you DO choose to drink coffee, always have breakfast first to buffer the effects of the caffeine on your nervous system and blood sugar levels.
It’s actually very common for mums to go off coffee in the first trimester. I know I certainly did! Rising hormone levels in early pregnancy are associated with nausea and food aversions. These are often to bitter foods (including things like vegetables and of course coffee) as a natural protective mechanism. This is because bitter foods in nature were once toxic. Although this is not the case for modern plants today, we still have this aversion. It’s the body’s way of saying avoid these foods during early pregnancy to keep the baby safe. I find this truly amazing!
Limit caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day to minimise any potential risk of having a low birth weight baby or miscarriage.
Be aware of other caffeine-containing food and drinks like chocolate and tea and be sure to include these in your “caffeine quota”.
Decaf coffee is perfectly safe during pregnancy. Choose Swiss water filtered decaf wherever possible.
Did you go off coffee during pregnancy? Are you choosing to avoid caffeine completely? I would love to hear your thoughts!