Caffeine in Pregnancy

Everyone loves to have coffee. We feel that it stimulates our system and keeps us active throughout the day. Well! That could be true because the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that boosts your energy levels. The effect of caffeine in pregnancy is not well established. But it is advisable to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy. Let us see how much caffeine is safe for you when you are pregnant and how excess intake of it affects your health.

Last Updated: 23 October 2020

Caffeine in Pregnancy
Caffeine in Pregnancy
What is caffeine?

The word "caffeine" came from the German word kaffee and the French word café, each meaning coffee. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. After intake, it is absorbed within 30 to 45 minutes and its effect diminishes within three hours.

Source of caffeine

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks. It is also found in chocolate, soft drinks, chocolate syrup and hot cocoa. The amount of caffeine varies in the food depending on the preparation, the brand, and the types of beans or leaves used. Caffeine is also seen in some over the counter medicines (pain relievers and medicine for cold). The following table lists the source and concentration of caffeine in various food products.



Caffeine, Per unit, mg


·         Brewed

·         Instant

·         Decaffeinated instant


237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)






·         Average Blend

·         Green

·         Instant

·         Decaffeinated


237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)






Soft drinks

·         Cola

·         Diet Cola


355 mL (1 can, 12 oz)

355 mL (1 can, 12 oz)




Cocoa products  

·       Chocolate milk

·       Candy (milk chocolate)

·         Hot cocoa mix


237 mL (1 cup, 8 oz)

28 g (1 oz)

237 mL (1 envelope, 8 oz)






Reference: Sara Morgan et al., Is caffeine consumption safe during pregnancy? Can Fam Physician. 2013 Apr; 59(4): 361-362.

Effect of caffeine in pregnancy

·         Since caffeine is a stimulant, it increases your blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are not recommended to increase during pregnancy.

·         Some observational studies state that excess intake of caffeine could be associated with growth restriction, premature labor, reduced birth weight and preterm birth.

·         Pregnant women metabolize caffeine very slowly. Caffeine crosses the placenta and enters your baby’s bloodstream and hence your baby will not be able to metabolize the caffeine.

·         Caffeine is a diuretic which means it increases the frequency of urination, which in turn reduces the amount of body fluids leading to dehydration.

·         Caffeine can change the sleeping patterns in you and your baby. Other negative effects of caffeine include increased anxiety, dizziness, restlessness, abdominal pain and diarrhea

Recommendations of caffeine intake in pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) states that moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg per day) does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth. This is equivalent to about 1–2 cups (240–580 ml) of coffee or about 2–4 cups (240–960 ml) of brewed tea per day.


Though the potential risks of caffeine intake in pregnancy is not clearly established, it is advisable to limit caffeine in pregnancy. 

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