Drinking Coffee When Pregnant - Check Is it Safe for you?

Ambili S Kartha

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Mar 21, 2018

Drinking Coffee When Pregnant Check Is it Safe for you

Once you are pregnant, lots of things need to be changed. One such thing is your habit of drinking coffee while pregnant. No I am not saying to let go off it completely but here’s what you need to know before you indulge in your favourite cuppa. 

How Much Caffeine Can You Have During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you should restrain your caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams per day. Consuming more than that amount of caffeine could pose significant risks to an unborn child.

What Are The Effects Of Overconsumption of Coffee While Pregnant?

Caffeine, the chemical found abundantly in the coffee can cross the placenta and reach the baby. Caffeine is metabolized more slowly in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women and therefore, its level in the blood remains high for more time.So, the chances of caffeine crossing the placenta will be higher. The researchers found that more than the recommended quantities of coffee intake will do the following

  1. Increase the fetal heart rate
  2. May damage fetus heart. The tissues that separate the fetal heart chambers are found to be thinner when the mother is a profuse coffee drinker
  3. Result in low birth weight
  4. Increase the chances of preterm delivery
  5. Stillbirth
  6. Increase the chances ofmiscarriage

Should Intake Of Coffee Be Completely Avoided When Pregnancy?

It is always better to avoid everything that can be potentially dangerous for developing fetus and progressing pregnancy. However, if you are used to it, avoiding coffee completely can cause caffeine withdrawal symptoms like headaches and exhaustion which is not welcoming when you are already having pregnancy discomforts. It is safer to limit the intake of coffee to one cup per day, at the maximum of two cups definitely not more than that.

Also, be aware that the quantity of caffeine in a cup of coffee will fluctuate with the type of coffee, it’s brand, the amount of coffee powder used (in another word, how strong the coffee is) and how it's brewed. You will reach the limit of 200 mg of caffeine in two cups of filter coffee or one cup of instant coffee. (I cup = 6 to 8 ounces). You will cross thelimit considerably (almost double) if you have a cup of Starbucks coffee.

You should remember another fact that it’s not only coffee that carries caffeine. Tea, chocolates, frozen treats, and dairy products also havea significant amount of caffeine. Therefore, if you are having two cups of coffee you should avoid other caffeine contained food and drinks.

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What Are The Effects Of Coffee During The First Trimester Of Pregnancy?

Drinking more than the recommended amount of coffee during the first trimester of pregnancy twice the risk ofmiscarriage asthe chemical crosses the placenta and can affect developing cells of the embryo. Caffeine also affects the blood flow towards the placenta and can cause increased blood pressure. This can trigger miscarriage during the initial week of pregnancy.

What Are The Effects Of Coffee During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy?

  1. Effect the growth of the baby: A high caffeine intake in the third trimester may be a risk factor for fetal growth retardation.The baby grows faster and put on weight during the third trimester. As the baby's metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolize the caffeine that passes the placenta, excessive drinking of coffee during the third trimester can cause growth retardation and less birth weight in babies
  2. Effects the sleep pattern of the unborn baby: Any amount of caffeine can also cause changes in the baby’s sleep pattern or normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy
  3. Effect the due date: Towards the end of the third trimester, an excessive intake of coffee canextend your pregnancy. It is found that every 100 mgs of caffeine in coffee you drink towards the end of the third trimester increases the pregnancy from5 to 8 hours. This can result inoverdue as the pregnancy might cross the due date

Is Black Coffee Safe While Pregnant?

Lightly brewed black coffee contains less caffeine and hence cause no harm during pregnancy. Again, the amount of coffee power used is an important criterion. Lighter the coffee lesser the caffeine.

Is Decaf Safe Coffee During Pregnancy?

Decaf coffee doesn’t mean it is devoid of caffeine. During decaffeination, with the help of different techniques, around 97 % of the caffeine is removed from the coffee beans. This means 3% of caffeine remains. However, it is far better than normal coffee, which is loaded with caffeine. The method used for decaffeination is also important as some technique involves harmful chemicalsused as solvents. Check the label of the decaf coffee before buying.If the coffee is labelled “Naturally decaffeinated” or “Swiss water processed”, it is safe to drink as no harmful chemicals are used.

drinking coffee during pregnancy

Substitutes For Coffee When Pregnant

If you are able to stop the coffee drinking during pregnancy for the sake of the health of your baby, you might feel lacking some energy. Here are some substitutes for coffee during pregnancy:

  1. Nuts: Adding a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews to your daily diet is a healthy substitute for coffee as it provides energy that you lack due to avoiding coffee.
  2. Cereal bars: Having cereal bars between meals will help to boost the energy.
  3. Fruits: Fresh fruits and fruit juices without adding sugar will refresh andenergize you during pregnancy
  4. Other beverages: You might crave for coffee during a cold day or rainy day. Here are some alternatives:
    • Peppermint tea
    • Lemon tea
    • Herbal tea
    • Ginger tea

Does Drinking Coffee While Pregnant Cause Low Birth Weight?

Caffeine is linked to low-birth-weight babies. Therefore, excessive consumption of coffee, especially during the third trimester, during the time which the baby puts on weight, can cause low birth weight.It is found that for each 100 milligrams of daily caffeine intake, especially during the third trimester, the baby might lose between 3/4 to 1 ounce in birth weight.

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Did you like the blog on is it safe to drink coffee during pregnancy? Please share your views and feedback in the comments section below.

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| Oct 31, 2017

I am addicted to coffee , during pregnancy had a tough time controlling my cravings. I am sure pregnant women will find this blog quite handy. thanks for such detailed description with suggestions on safer alternatives !!!

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