Can you drink coffee during pregnancy

Can I Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

Can you drink coffee while pregnant? – The cup of coffee in the morning or the latte macchiato in the afternoon is often a ritual that many women love. Even during pregnancy, many expectant mothers do not want to do without their daily energy boost. But how much coffee is actually allowed during pregnancy and what effects does caffeine have on the unborn baby?

What do black tea, coffee, and chocolate have in common? They contain caffeine – a stimulating substance that pregnant women are better off consuming only in low doses.

How does caffeine work in the body?

Caffeine wakes you up, and it does it reliably. If the coffee gets into the stomach, some of the caffeine is already absorbed there. The blood pressure rises, the heartbeat accelerates, and nerve cells in the brain are stimulated.

Those who prefer black or green tea will notice the energy boost a little later: The caffeine is only absorbed by the body in the small intestine. As a rule of thumb: after about four to five hours, the body has broken down half of the caffeine again.


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What happens if I drink coffee while pregnant?

Even pregnant women will usually feel more alert after a cup of coffee or tea. Just like the unborn child. Caffeine passes through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream. A pregnant woman metabolizes caffeine much more slowly. It can take up to 18 hours for just half of it to break down. And the baby in the tummy takes longer, so the caffeine can build up.

Anyone who drinks tea, coffee, or cola in the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon is therefore permanently caffeinated – even at night.

Drinking coffee while pregnant: Caffeine is transmitted to the unborn child

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the heart rate and stimulates metabolism.

If women drink coffee during pregnancy, the caffeine can freely cross the placenta and thus enter the unborn baby’s bloodstream unhindered.

The result: when you have a cup of coffee, your baby will soon have almost the same amount of caffeine in their blood as you. The invigorating effect can be transferred to your baby, making it a little restless at times.

In addition, caffeine, taken immediately before or after a meal, hinders the absorption of vitamin C, iron, and calcium. To ensure that you and your baby are adequately supplied with these important nutrients, you should not consume coffee, black and green tea, or cola for around two hours before and after your meals.

How much caffeine is allowed during pregnancy?

200 milligrams of caffeine a day is fine during pregnancy, experts say. Given the amount, you can assume that the baby will not be harmed, however, pregnant ladies should still consume as little caffeine as possible.

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

A maximum of three cups of coffee per day while pregnant

The good news for all pregnant women: women do not have to completely give up the caffeinated drink during their pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pregnant women can consume up to 300 mg of caffeine per day.

It is said that this amount of around three cups of coffee or six cups of tea is also safe during pregnancy. But not only with coffee, but you should also pay attention to the caffeine content, which can be up to 100 mg per cup.

Caffeine is also found in other drinks and foods, such as black or green tea (up to 100 mg per cup), cola (20 mg per glass), cocoa (10 mg per cup), and even chocolate (up to 100 g of semi-dark chocolate 100 mg). When consuming it, you should therefore always keep the recommended daily ration of 300 mg caffeine in the back of your mind.

What are the risks of drinking coffee while pregnant?

Recent studies suggest that caffeine could also promote later obesity in children or behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, but the actual data situation is thin. From the point of view of experts, the studies are not conclusive enough to adjust the current recommendation of 200 milligrams.

The reason: The studies are mainly based on the self-reports of pregnant women, caffeine consumption was not measured systematically. So the results cannot be compared beyond doubt.

In addition, it is partly unclear to what extent there were other risk factors (such as smoking or alcohol consumption) in the women. With very high amounts of caffeine daily, i.e. 600 milligrams and more, we can clearly say that this is not healthy for the baby. According to studies, children are born with lower birth weight, probably because the placenta is poorly supplied with blood. The risk of premature birth is also increased.

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

Effects of heavy caffeine consumption on the unborn child

While moderate coffee consumption does not affect your unborn baby, the situation is very different for heavy coffee drinkers: According to scientific studies from England and Norway, very high coffee consumption during pregnancy can affect the birth weight of babies.

The more caffeine pregnant women had consumed in the form of coffee and cola, the higher the likelihood that their baby was lighter at birth than babies whose mothers had not consumed caffeine. The unequivocal recommendation of the scientists: Pregnant women should reduce their coffee consumption as much as possible or, in the best case, stop it altogether.

The results of a US study were even more drastic: According to them, regular and strong coffee consumption in pregnant women is said to increase the risk of miscarriage. The caffeine presumably affects the blood flow to the placenta and the metabolic processes of the unborn child, which can trigger a miscarriage.

Even more effects of coffee on unborn babies

Babies are cared for in the womb via the placenta. This also passes on caffeine to the child when the pregnant woman drinks coffee. In general, caffeine has the following effects on the body: Caffeine stimulates heart rate and metabolism for a short time. Caffeine can have similar effects on the unborn child.

This can cause the fetus to become restless in the womb. In addition, regular coffee drinking can lead to increased urine production by the mother as well as sleepless nights and headaches after the caffeine has been filtered out of the organism.

Since the fetus lacks a liver enzyme, it takes almost 20 times as long to break down caffeine. In addition, the absorption of iron from food is inhibited.

Folic acid and coffee: what pregnant women should consider

Folic acid is essential for the development of the child. The vitamin, which is one of the B vitamins, ensures that the baby’s nervous tissue develops properly. A deficiency in folic acid can lead to severe developmental disorders of the nerve tissue. However, coffee should not have any negative effects on the folic acid balance.

If you notice a folic acid deficiency, pay attention to a healthy diet and include foods with a high proportion of the vitamin, e.g. cabbage or oatmeal, in your diet.

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

How much caffeine is out there?

½ bar of dark chocolate: 25 mg

1 cup espresso (60 ml): 80 mg

1 cup cocoa (200 ml): 8 to 35 mg

1 cup green tea (200 ml): 30 to 80 ml

1 glass cola (330 ml): about 35 mg

Which drinks and foods is there caffeine in?

In coffee, of course. And most of them also have cola on their screens as a caffeine drink. What is less well known is that green or black tea also contains caffeine, as does iced tea from the pack. Two cups of tea are roughly equivalent to one cup of coffee in terms of caffeine content – switching during pregnancy is therefore only advisable in moderation.

Energy drinks are taboo during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and there is even a warning printed on cans and bottles. And bad news for chocolate fans: dark chocolate and cocoa also contain caffeine. Caffeine is also artificially added to numerous foods, for example, baked goods, ice cream, or sweets. If in doubt, check the list of ingredients.

We have an excellent article on caffeine content in coffee.

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

Healthy alternatives to coffee consumption while pregnant

Doctors recommend exercising in order to wake up without coffee or tea. A walk in the fresh air or yoga exercises also gets the circulation going.

If you want to replace the caffeinated coffee or tea for breakfast or in the afternoon, you can go to switch to herbal teas – they are mostly caffeine-free. With “refreshing” or “invigorating” herbal tea blends, however, make sure that no mate leaves or guarana extract are added. Both can contain high amounts of caffeine.

Many women have a very special body awareness during their pregnancy and often automatically do not feel like drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee or cola. Others consciously avoid coffee during pregnancy due to nausea.

If you are not one of these women, then you can drink grain coffee, for example. Decaffeinated coffee is also an alternative, but excessive consumption can lead to stomach problems. In addition, pregnant women should note that decaffeinated coffee always contains a minimal amount of caffeine.

A particularly tasty alternative to coffee, which also gives you a healthy energy kick, is self-squeezed juices and fruit smoothies. There are no limits to your imagination when it comes to preparation. But make sure that the juices are freshly prepared. With fruit juices and smoothies in the supermarket, there is always the risk that germs and bacteria can appear in the drinks.

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

After giving birth: can breastfeeding women drink coffee?

Women should also limit their coffee consumption while breastfeeding. The infant can continue to ingest caffeine through breast milk. According to the German Nutrition Society, breastfeeding women can safely consume a little more caffeine than pregnant women, and this is supported by massive evidence.

The guideline value is around 300 mg per day, which corresponds to around two cups (200 ml each) of filter coffee. According to the professional association of pediatricians in Thuringia, there are no precise studies of how much coffee is “safe” for breastfeeding mothers and their children.

However, we already know that a lot of coffee can cause sleep disorders in babies. In addition, caffeine can cause stomach aches and gas in infants. Thus, breastfeeding women should also continue to pay attention to how much caffeine they consume per day.


Can I drink coffee after birth?

The same as during pregnancy, at least if the woman is breastfeeding. Because the caffeine goes back into the infant’s circulation via breast milk. This is why the following also applies when breastfeeding: It is better not to exceed the limit of 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.

How much caffeine is in my drink?

Pregnant women should make sure that they do not have more than 200 grams of caffeine in total. However, caffeine cannot only be absorbed through the consumption of black coffee. Latte macchiato, cappuccino or tea, and cola also contain caffeine. So that you have an overview, we have put together a list of caffeinated drinks for you:

Filter coffee: Up to 80 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Espresso: Up to 110 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Cappuccino: Up to 30 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Cocoa: Up to 11 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Black tea: Up to 50 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Cola / Cola zero: Up to 10 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Cola light: up to 12 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Club-Mate: up to 20 mg caffeine per 100 ml
Energy drink (different depending on the type): up to 32 mg caffeine per 100 ml (Red Bull)

Can I drink coffee while pregnant, coffee and pregnancy

Is caffeine in coffee and tea the same?

Caffeine is an alkaloid found in coffee and cocoa beans as well as in tea leaves (black and green tea). Coffee contains high amounts of caffeine (see table). The caffeine content of the coffee depends on many factors, including the type, roast, preparation, and of course the cup or portion size.

In contrast to coffee, caffeine is found in tea together with so-called polyphenols. These phytochemicals may make the body absorb the caffeine more slowly. The stimulating effect of the caffeine in tea starts later and lasts longer. Depending on the type and preparation, tea contains only about half as much caffeine as coffee [6]. The caffeine content of tea and cocoa also varies, as do different cola drinks.

Julie Gabriel
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