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Caffeine during Pregnancy - How much is Safe?

Updated on January 7, 2012

Overview - Do I need to give up Caffeine

The simple answer is no. But you do need to limit your consumption if you have more that 200mg of caffeine a day, more on exactly how much that is in the table below. But if you have more than this regularly it can increase the risk of miscarriage, especially in the first trimester, although it is important to note that it doesn't cause miscarriages. It is also strongly linked with low birth weights of your child, which can cause the child to have health problems both at birth and later in life. However it is worth adding that occasionally exceeding the 200mg limit is not currently thought to be harmful.

Average Caffeine Content
Number of portions equivalent to daily limit
mug of coffee (instant)
mug of coffee (filter)
green tea
bar of chocolate (milk)
bar of chocolate (dark)
coke (330ml)
Energy Drink (330ml)

What Contains Caffeine

Common products, especially coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks contain varying amounts of caffeine. You should tally up the amount you have and the table to the right shows common amounts. Use it to work out when you have totalled up your 200mg allowance.

Remember to bear in mind that espressos and coffees based on espressos have caffeine depending upon the bean variety, outlet, coffee size. A recent study shows that these can have contents which vary from 50mg - 300mg per espresso.

If you enjoy a herbal tea, remember these can also vary considerably and it is worth reading the label to be sure how much you are consuming. They can also contain herbs and additives which are not good during pregnancy so be sure to check the label.

Please note that even though the table says that you can have 5 cans of coke or 8 chocolate bars, this is very unhealthy and not good for you so should be avoided even though your caffeine content is within safe levels.

Also look out for some over the counter pharmaceutical products, such as cold and flu remedies which can contain caffeine.

How does Caffeine affect your body and baby

Caffeine is a stimulant and causes your metabolism and heart rate to increase. It can make you feel more alert and buzzy. Lots of coffee isn't good for your baby, but a cup or two a day won’t harm him. Running for the bus has the same effect on your baby, another situation that briefly boosts your heart rate and metabolism.

Caffeine isn't addictive, but if you drink lots of tea and coffee you may feel as though you need it to get you through the day. If you have large amounts of caffeine this can also have a mild diuretic effect. Meaning you may need to urinate more, this combined with pregnancy can lead to a high rate of urination.

The caffeine passes through the placenta for absorption by the fetus. A fetus is not able to metabolize caffeine at the same rate of an adult similar to alcoholthis means that the caffeine can be stored in the fetal blood stream and reach very high levels.

During pregnancy, caffeine affects your ability to absorb essential minerals such as calcium. This decrease of absorption can cause your baby to be born with weak bones. It could also cause your baby having caffeine withdrawal at birth and increased breathing rates.


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