19 April, 2022
How much Coffee is Safe During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy is best to limit your caffeine intake, and that includes coffee! But how much can you actually have? What happens if you have a bit too much? What happens if you reallllllllyyy need a pick-me-up after a horrible toddler teething night?
What's the dangers of caffeine during pregnancy?
There are several risks associated with caffeine intake during pregnancy.
- Low birth weight (James)
- Miscarriage / stillbirth (Gaskins)
- Future health problems for the child including being overweight, childhood cancers and Autistic Spectrum behaviours (Thomopoulos) (Voerman) (Patti)
What contains Caffeine?
But how much coffee is considered safe?
Like many things, this is still a hotly debated topic in pregnancy care. Australian Guidelines suggest limiting to 300mg of caffeine daily (RACGP) (RANZCOG). That's around 3 cups of coffee a day.
However, overseas it's generally suggested to limit to 2 cups daily - that's 200mg (ACOG) (RCOG). With some suggestions to avoid caffeine all together (James)!
The risks increase with each serve of caffeine consumed daily (Sengpiel) (James). If you have 6 cups of coffee a day, you are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy and child health outcomes than if you have 1 cup a day.
That also means that if you have a day where you have more coffee, chocolate and tea than usual, it's likely not going to have an impact. It's more about what you do on a regular basis, rather than your occasional binges.
How much Caffeine is in Medication?
Of course different medications will vary. Panadol Extra contains 65mg of caffeine (Panadol Extra Caplets). If you take the recommended 1-2 every 4-6 hours, you'll far exceed the caffeine limits recommended for pregnancy. Paracetamol, another active ingredient in Panadol, is also questionable how safe it is in pregnancy.
You should speak with your medical doctor about any medication that you take during pregnancy. Some medications may be dangerous to consume during pregnancy for reasons other than caffeine.
How much Chocolate can you have during pregnancy?
Chocolate is another delicious source of caffeine. Dark chocolate contains the most caffeine (100g is the equivalent to half a cup of coffee). Milk chocolate contains around 20mg of caffeine per 100g - which is around a fifth a cup of coffee. White chocolate is caffeine free!
Of course there's more to consider with chocolate than just the caffeine content. The high sugar and limited nutritional content means it's an occasional food, especially if you have gestational diabetes.
How much do you have in total over the day?
There's online calculators that you can use to add up your total caffeine consumption over the day.
Enjoy your coffee and chocolate but be mindful how much you have everyday and limit your binges.
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Doula, Women's Health Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Spinning Babies Lover
As a Chiropractor, Doula and perinatal Pilates & Yoga instructor, Dr Cassie loves to help pregnant women keep fit, healthy and comfortable. Knowing how empowering it felt to be fit and energetic during the pregnancy of her son inspires Cassie to want this for her patients. Cassie incorporates Spinning Babies, Yoga and Pilates exercises into her prenatal and postpartum Chiropractic sessions. She's currently studying her Graduate Certificate in Women's Health Medicine through the University of New South Wales.
Similar articles you'll enjoy:
- Dorney E, Black K. Preconception care. AJGP. 2018;47(7).
- Leung L et al. Pre-pregnancy Counselling. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG); 2017.
- Gaskins AJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Williams PL, Toth TL, Missmer SA, Chavarro JE. Pre-pregnancy caffeine and caffeinated beverage intake and risk of spontaneous abortion. European journal of nutrition. 2018 Feb;57(1):107-
- Healthy eating and vitamin supplements in pregnancy [Online]. [place unknown: publisher unknown]; 2014 Nov 24 [cited 2021 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/healthy-eating-and-vitamin-supplements-in-pregnancy/
- James JE. Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: a narrative review with implications for advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. BMJ evidence-based medicine. 2021 Jun 1;26(3):114-5.
- Panadol Extra Caplets [Internet]. Panadol. [cited 8 November 2021]. Available from: https://www.panadol.com/en-au/products/strong-pain/panadol-extra-caplets/
- Patti MA, Li N, Eliot M, Newschaffer C, Yolton K, Khoury J, Chen A, Lanphear BP, Lyall K, Hertz-Picciotto I, Fallin MD. Association between self-reported caffeine intake during pregnancy and social responsiveness scores in childhood: The EARLI and HOME studies. PloS one. 2021 Jan 15;16(1):e0245079.
- Prepregnancy Counseling [Internet]. Acog.org. 2019 [cited 15 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2019/01/prepregnancy-counseling
- Sengpiel V, Elind E, Bacelis J, Nilsson S, Grove J, Myhre R, et al. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study. BMC Med. 2013;11:42
- Thomopoulos TP, Ntouvelis E, Diamantaras AA, Tzanoudaki M, Baka M, Hatzipantelis E, Kourti M, Polychronopoulou S, Sidi V, Stiakaki E, Moschovi M. Maternal and childhood consumption of coffee, tea and cola beverages in association with childhood leukemia: a meta-analysis. Cancer epidemiology. 2015 Dec 1;39(6):1047-59.
- Voerman E, Jaddoe VW, Hulst ME, Oei EH, Gaillard R. Associations of maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy with abdominal and liver fat deposition in childhood. Pediatric obesity. 2020 May;15(5):e12607.
- Woodley M. Experts raise caution over paracetamol in pregnancy warning [Internet]. NewsGP. 2021 [cited 8 November 2021]. Available from: https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/experts-raise-caution-over-paracetamol-in-pregnanc