Here’s what science has to say about drinking coffee—or anything with caffeine in it—while pregnant.
Once we get that positive pregnancy test, we clean up every bit of our lives to be sure our babies have the healthiest start possible. And so many of us wonder: Is it safe to drink coffee while pregnant?
The Bottom Line
The general consensus is that pregnant women should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg per day. To put this into perspective, 200mg of caffeine is the equivalent of approximately one 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee, or five 12-ounce cans of soda.
Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy: Digging Into the Research
Unlike the research on chocolate during pregnancy, the evidence around drinking coffee while pregnant is conflicted.
The evidence against coffee during pregnancy
- In a study of 562 women who miscarried at 6-12 weeks, researches found that more than 5 cups of coffee increased the mom’s risk of miscarriage. That’s a lot of coffee—and probably more than most people consume—but worth taking into consideration.
- Another study showed that consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine while pregnant doubled a woman’s risk for miscarriage in first trimester.
- Further research determined that “women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine (in any form) per day had twice the miscarriage risk as women who consumed no caffeine.”
The other side of the argument
- To counter this, another mega-study found no causal association between caffeine intake of 300 mg or less and birth outcome.
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Coffee During Pregnancy: How Much Is Considered “Safe”?
Because there are enough studies that show dangers with consumption of 300mg, from miscarriages to lower birth weights, many practitioners take a better-safe-than-sorry approach and advise pregnant women to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg per day.
Can You Drink Coffee During Pregnancy? Caffeine In Coffee Chart
Some women follow this recommendation, while others choose to skip the coffee altogether, especially in the first trimester when miscarriage is more likely. Talk to your healthcare provider about what’s right for you.
And keep in mind: Caffeine will cross the placenta—it can limit blood flow to the placenta and increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also puts additional strain on the liver, which is already busy processing the increased hormonal demands related to pregnancy.
Is Coffee Okay During Pregnancy? Listen to Your Body
Some mamas may have to reduce or eliminate their intake of caffeine and coffee while pregnant based on their symptoms. Heart palpitations, anxiety, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive sweating, and shakiness are good indications that you should dial the caffeine way back or get rid of it completely. The most important thing is to listen to your body.
If you do decide to drink coffee during pregnancy, don’t drink your morning coffee before going for a glucose screening, says Reburn. It can produce a false positive on the test.
Can You Drink Decaf Coffee During Pregnancy?
Decaf coffee is generally regarded as safe during pregnancy. But despite the name, decaf coffee does have some caffeine—it’s just significantly less than regular coffee. Brewed decaf coffee has 2-5 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces, which means you’d have to have about 40 cups to reach the most widely accepted limit for coffee during pregnancy!
What to Drink Instead of Coffee During Pregnancy
If you’re a coffee drinker, Reburn suggests switching to bulletproof coffee, because of the extra fat, lower toxic load, and the energy it can provide.
Keep in mind that there are some delicious herbal brews (check out my recipe for dandelion root detox tea) that taste similar to coffee, or you can try a decaf coffee.
Here’s What Other Natural Mamas Have to Say About Consuming Caffeine When Pregnant
I asked the moms on my Facebook page if they drank coffee while pregnant or changed their habits in any way, and over 600 moms chimed in! Talk about a hot topic. Here is a sample of their responses:
- Before pregnancy, I drank an average of two cups of coffee a day. While pregnant, I cut all caffeine out of my diet. I didn’t even have decaf coffee, tea, sodas, or chocolate. After reading a number of studies pointing toward adverse effects for children as a result of caffeine exposure in utero, I figured better safe than sorry.—Ashley F.
- I’m currently pregnant with my third. I cut back on coffee with my first two—one cup in the morning. With this one, I’m less strict. I have one or two cups in the morning and an occasional 1/2 caf. in the afternoon, depending on how I feel. So far this has been a good pregnancy. I’m 38 weeks gained the recommended 25 pounds and my blood pressure is 120/60. — Rebecca C.D.
- I never drank coffee regularly until I had two kids. I drank none with my first pregnancy and had maybe five total with my second, for those really sluggish mornings. As a holistic nutritionist who specializes in pediatrics and pregnancy, I don’t believe it is a problem to have one cup a day, unless you’re experiencing adrenal issues/stress. Also drinking organic while pregnant with organic cream and no sugar is very important. — Leigh M.
- For all three of my pregnancies, I despised coffee like the plague for the first and second trimester. With my third, I was able to drink one cup in the morning and one in the afternoon in my third trimester—felt perfectly comfortable and safe doing that. Had a healthy 8-pound baby delivered naturally. Of course, I’m from Europe where recommendations are to decrease caffeine but allow for up to three cups of coffee a day. The US guidelines seem very strict. — Ann C.E.
- I am a coffee lover through and through, but with both my pregnancies, by six weeks, the smell of coffee made me totally sick. I couldn’t even walk by a Starbucks. My hubby made coffee for himself in the boot room and then eventually switched to tea for pregnancy number one. For number two, we were living on the in-laws’ property at the time so he walked over to their kitchen each morning for his coffee while I hung my head over the porcelain throne each day. The day after I delivered, I could tolerate the smell and have a cup again. Weird, but I guess its just something my body did not want while pregnant. — The Natural Wolf
- I tried to limit it to one cup of organic coffee per day at the most; towards the end of my pregnancy, I did more like a cup of coffee twice a week. I enjoyed it bulletproof-style with grass-fed butter and virgin coconut oil to help get in extra high-quality fats—especially on days when my diet didn’t include enough. My comfort zone for doing so was based off of studies done in South American countries where coffee consumption is considered normal culturally. — Stephanie W.T.
- With my last pregnancy, I only very occasionally had it after my first trimester had passed. I did have it in my previous two pregnancies a bit more, but after I miscarried my second pregnancy and read some scientific research possibly linking caffeine with an increased risk in miscarriage, I just couldn’t allow myself to drink it. I felt like I owed it to my baby and myself to cut back, so that there wouldn’t be any guilt or blame if something went wrong in any future pregnancies. — Cassaundra R.
- My most colicky, fidgety, cranky, worst-sleeping baby was the one with whom I cut out all caffeine. With baby number three, I kept on drinking it, and he was the most mellow! — Kiva S.
How About You?
Did you drink coffee while pregnant? Did you give it up? Or change your habits? Share your experience in the comments below!