Caffeine During Pregnancy: Here’s the Lowdown

We’re sure you’ve heard it before—caffeine and pregnancy do not mix. But is that completely true? Can you have any caffeine while pregnant? In this article we’ll go over everything you need to know about your morning pick-me-up. 

Caffeine: The Basics

Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic. The stimulant part means that it increases your blood pressure and your heart rate—two things you don’t really want while pregnant. The diuretic part means that it makes you have to urinate more often, which can lead to a reduction in your overall body fluid levels, and eventually dehydration. 

Caffeine also, like everything you consume, has an effect on your baby. While you may have built up a massive caffeine tolerance over the years, your baby hasn’t—their metabolism is still maturing and can’t fully metabolize the caffeine they’re being given. Any amount (yes, even a small amount!) can cause changes in your baby’s sleep pattern or their normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. It is a stimulant after all, and can keep both of you awake when you should be resting. 

What’s worse than having to give up your morning boost—caffeine is found in a lot more than just coffee. Tea, soda, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter medications contain caffeine. Basically, you should always be aware of what you’re consuming while you’re pregnant. Some normal, everyday things have secret ingredients you don’t want! 

Is Caffeine as Bad as They Say?

You’ll see (or maybe you’ve already seen) some pretty harsh statements about caffeine floating around. While they aren’t all off base, they aren’t all true either! Let’s dive into some of those statements and look at the accompanying research. 

Caffeine Causes Birth Defects

There have been several studies done in regard to this, but only on animals so far. These studies have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, premature labor, preterm delivery, reduced fertility, and an increased risk of low-birth-weight offspring and other reproductive problems. Studies involving humans haven’t shown an increased risk of these issues, however. 

Caffeine Causes Infertility

A study published in 2017 gathered data from published research papers to look at the potential dose-related effect of caffeine or coffee on the time it took to get pregnant for both couples trying to conceive naturally and couples undergoing fertility treatment. Caffeine did not seem to impact the time it took for couples trying to conceive naturally to get pregnant. Caffeine intake also did not seem to negatively impact pregnancy rates for couples receiving fertility treatments. 

Caffeine Causes Miscarriages

The same study mentioned above found that drinking 300 mg of caffeine increased the risk of early pregnancy loss or spontaneous abortion. In addition to this, drinking 600 mb of caffeine daily more than doubled the risk of miscarriage. 

Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Have Any Caffeine. Period. 

Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy. So, what is “moderate” then? Anywhere from 150 to 300 mg per day. The APA, however, does suggest avoiding caffeine as much as possible during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

How Much Caffeine Are You Consuming?

Here’s a breakdown of the caffeine content in some of your favorite drinks and snacks—it’s a good idea to get familiar with ballpark estimates, so you can keep track of your daily intake. 

  • Brewed Coffee: 95–165 mg
  • Brewed Decaf Coffee: 2–5 mg
  • Espresso: 2–5 mg
  • Latte: 63–126 mg
  • Dr. Pepper (12 oz): 37 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke: 124 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola: 92 mg
  • Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream: 72 mg
  • Baker’s Chocolate (1 oz): 26 mg
  • Green Tea: 40 mg
  • Black Tea: 45 mg
  • Excedrin (one capsule): 65 mg

How Much is Too Much?

Honestly, the less caffeine you consume, the better. Some experts say that more than 150 mg per day is too much—while others say that more than 300 mg is too much! Avoiding caffeine as much as you can will always be your best bet. Of course, you should always discuss things with your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to work with you to make the healthiest choice possible for you and your baby. 

At RMC, We Know Babies

As Alabama’s first designated baby-friendly hospital, we know a thing or two about maternity care. Interested in learning more? Check out the rest of our blogs, here.