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Is it okay to drink coffee when you're pregnant?

pregnant woman drinking coffee
Is it safe to drink coffee if you're pregnant?Oscar Wong - Getty Images

Sadly, as much as your cravings may tell you otherwise, there are a few dietary changes that you need to make during pregnancy (unpasteurised cheeses and smoked fish, for example, are a no-no), but what about that morning latte? Is it okay to keep drinking coffee if you're pregnant?

It's a common concern that many expectant parents have, ditto when it comes to other caffeinated drinks such as tea or energy drinks – so to clear things up, we asked Lesley Bland, a registered midwife at My Expert Midwife, for the intel on all things coffee and caffeine when pregnant-related.

Is it safe to drink coffee when you’re pregnant?

According to Bland and NHS recommendations, yes it is safe to drink a small amount of coffee – but it should be kept to 1 to 2 cups per day (maximum). The latest NHS advice states that "pregnant women should limit their intake to no more than 200mg of caffeine daily, as some studies have linked caffeine consumption above 200mg daily in pregnancy to low birthweight babies and other complications".

As for what that actually looks like (read: as for what you might like to consider ordering from a coffee shop if you're pregnant), the NHS suggests the following amount of caffeine is present in each of these drinks:

  • 65mg in a single espresso

  • 125mg in a double espresso

  • 100mg in a mug of instant coffee

  • 140mg in a mug of filter coffee

  • 75mg in a mug of tea (green tea can have the same amount of caffeine as regular tea)

"Freshly brewed, roasted ground coffee tends to contain more caffeine than instant coffee but this will vary depending on how strong you make your own coffee at home," adds Bland, which is important to note. "Espresso contains the highest levels of caffeine per volume but as espresso tends to be drunk as a much shorter drink, the actual caffeine levels may be lower – or comparable to a larger cup or mug of freshly brewed coffee. So, your latte, cappuccino and other milky espresso-based drinks are still well within your daily allowance."

portrait of young pregnant woman at home lying on the sofa and holding a cup on belly
Eva Blanco - Getty Images

Why should caffeine be limited during pregnancy?

"During pregnancy people can start to become more aware of their diet as it's known to affect their own wellbeing, as well as that of their baby – and that includes what they drink," explains Bland. "Keeping well-hydrated is the key and this can include not only water, but juices, milk, and hot drinks."

She adds that in general, coffee is safe during pregnancy, but it is important to consider the amount of caffeine in each cup.

"The recommended guidelines are a maximum 200mg of caffeine daily, as increased consumption is associated with having a baby with a smaller birthweight and other complications, this equates roughly to about 1 to 2 cups of coffee," Bland notes. "Drinking decaffeinated coffee and tea is safe and your midwife or doctor will recommend this at your antenatal appointments."

Is it better to switch to decaf during pregnancy?

Not necessarily, says Bland, as the term 'decaffeinated' can be slightly misleading (e.g. if you were to drink a whole tonne of 'decaf' drinks in a day, in theory you could still surpass the recommended 200mg of caffeine per day allowance).

"Many decaf teas and coffees still contain small amounts of caffeine (up to 10-15mg per average serving)," she says. "It is also important to know that green tea, often considered a healthy option, still contains a similar amount of caffeine to regular black tea. Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine, as well as sugars and other empty calories and potentially stimulants so should be avoided in pregnancy."

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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