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Preventive Care
Women's Health

How Much Caffeine is Safe During Pregnancy?

08 April 2024 · 5 mins read


Experts recommend a daily caffeine intake level during pregnancy. Learn more about the risks associated with excessive caffeine while pregnant.

In today's world, coffee has become as common as water, sparking ongoing debates about its pros and cons. However, when a woman is expecting, managing caffeine intake becomes a sensitive issue.

Some argue that consuming caffeinated beverages, especially coffee, could harm the developing baby. Conversely, others advocate for continued caffeine consumption during pregnancy, citing personal experiences of health outcomes for their babies.

We recognise your desire to ensure the best possible health for both you and your baby. That is why we are here to shed light on the role of caffeine during pregnancy.

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is classified as a pregnancy class C drug by the NIH, serving as a natural stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It stands as the most widely used psychoactive stimulant globally.

What Drinks Contain Caffeine?

While coffee remains the most commonly consumed psychostimulant worldwide, caffeine can be found in various beverages, including:

  • Tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Some medications
  • Cocoa products

How Much Caffeine is Safe During Pregnancy?

Medical experts universally agree that caffeine intake for pregnant women should not exceed 200 milligrams (mg) daily.

It is crucial to note that caffeine content can significantly vary between beverages and even within the same type of drink.

So, what does 200mg of caffeine translate to? Here is a rough guide to caffeine content in typical beverages to help you manage your intake:

  • Coffee: An average cup contains about 95 mg of caffeine, depending on the brewing method and type of coffee beans.
  • Tea: Black tea contains around 30-48 mg per 8-ounce cup, while green tea contains approximately 20-45
  • Soft drinks: Certain soft drinks contain roughly 23-35 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce can.
  • Energy drinks: These can contain varying caffeine levels, with some exceeding 200 mg per servin
  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate contains approximately 12 mg per

It is vital to monitor your caffeine intake from all sources to ensure you stay within the recommended limit of 200 mg per day.

What Are the Potential Risks and Effects of Excessive Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy?

The British Medical Journal cites increased risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight for gestational age, and childhood acute leukaemia, suggesting zero caffeine intake during pregnancy.

This raises questions about the consequences of excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Here are some risks associated with consuming caffeine during pregnancy:

  1. Increases blood pressure and heart rate: Caffeine affects the heart by elevating both heart rate and blood pressure. This effect, coupled with its influence on enzymes that strengthen heart contractions, may pose risks to both the foetus and the mother, potentially leading to preeclampsia.
  2. Causes indigestion: Caffeine can contribute to indigestion and heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) during pregnancy, which may exacerbate existing discomforts.
  3. Feel jittery: Many expectant mothers report feeling jittery or anxious after consuming caffeine, which can be distressing during pregnancy.
  4. Trouble sleeping: Caffeine's stimulatory effects can interfere with sleep, which is vital for both maternal well-being and foetal development.
  5. Miscarriage: Reports suggest a heightened risk of miscarriage, particularly in the first trimester, for high caffeine drinkers.
  6. Preterm birth: While studies have not definitively linked high caffeine intake to preterm birth, it is advisable to limit consumption to recommended levels.
  7. Low birth weight: High caffeine intake, especially in the third trimester, has been associated with low birth weight in some studies. Infants born with low birth weight are more vulnerable to early-life health issues.

Considering these risks, It is advisable to avoid excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy.

How to Cut Back on Caffeine?

While reducing caffeine intake during pregnancy may be challenging, exploring alternatives or opting for other healthy beverages can help manage your daily intake.

What Are the Alternatives to Caffeine?

Switching to caffeine-free alternatives can help satisfy cravings. Consider options such as:

  1. Herbal teas: Many caffeine-free teas are safe during pregnancy and offer a range of flavours and potential health benefits.
  2. Decaffeinated coffee: Opt for decaffeinated versions, which contain significantly less caffeine.
  3. Fruit-infused water: Create refreshing beverages by infusing water with fruits, herbs, or cucumber slices.
  4. Milk: A warm glass can provide soothing relief, especially before bedtime.

Also read: What should pregnant mothers eat?

Schedule an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Balancing caffeine consumption during pregnancy involves understanding potential risks and benefits, as well as exploring caffeine-free alternatives to make informed choices for maternal and foetal health.

Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on caffeine intake and any other concerns you may have during your pregnancy journey.

Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with our team of gynaecologists today or learn more about our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Pantai Hospital.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

This article has been medically reviewed by Obstetrics & Gynaecology (O&G) specialist, Dr Anjalai A/P Pathmalingam.

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