Coffee is a staple in many of our diets. We start our days with coffee and rely on it as fuel to make it through the day. However, once we become pregnant caffeine intake is added to the list of things we must go without.
Personally, I didn’t mind giving up alcohol. I was never truly a huge fan of the stuff anyway. Deli meats and sushi were simple. But asking me to give up coffee was tough. So I wasn’t just going to take someone’s word for it. I had to do the research myself.
Early pregnancy is a tough time filled with exhaustion, headaches and nausea. What is the perfect remedy? Caffeine! So telling pregnant women to give up caffeine is serious. I wouldn’t make this recommendation without having done my due diligence into the research.
How Much Caffeine Can you Have?
Most recommendations say 200mg of caffeine is the safe and acceptable limit. Above 300mg of caffeine has been associated with an increased miscarriage rate and increased risk of having a low birth weight infant.
However, can we be sure that any caffeine is safe? Not completely. The National Birth Defects Prevention Study found that any consumption of caffeine (above 10mg/day) was associated with an increased risk of congenital limb defects, neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) and other birth defects such as esophageal atresia. It is important to note, however, that many other studies found no association between caffeine intake and birth defects.
What are the Recommendations?
- The March of Dimes recommends women who are ttc or pregnant limit their caffeine intake to 200mg/day
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that less than 200mg of caffeine per day does not increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. However, they state there is not enough evidence to make a conclusive recommendation on the safe and acceptable limit of caffeine intake.
- The American Dietetic Association recommends pregnant women avoid caffeine intake of greater than 300mg/day.
How much Caffeine is in Coffee?
One of the trickiest parts of limiting your caffeine intake is knowing how much caffeine is in your coffee, cappuccino or latte. In fact, many studies have noted this as a major weakness in their research. Not all coffee is created equal. And coffee is generally not labeled with its caffeine content. I looked up some common coffee brands. However, these are estimates. The caffeine level depends on how it is brewed and could vary from cup to cup. Additionally, coffee made at home or from other cafes could be vastly different.
|Tall (12 ounces) Dark Roast||193mg|
|Tall DECAF Pike Place Roast||20mg|
|Tall Medium Roast||235mg|
|Tall Blond Roast||270mg|
|Tall Iced Coffee||120mg|
|Tall Cold Brew||150mg|
|Single Shot Espresso||75mg|
|Small (10 ounces) Coffee||150mg|
|Small Decaf Coffee||7mg|
|Small Iced Coffee||198mg|
|Small Cold Brew||174mg|
|Single Shot Espresso||98mg|
How much caffeine is in other food and beverages?
It is hard to know due to the variability in different food and beverages. I love matcha as a coffee alternative. I tried to find the caffeine content and had a difficult time.
- From caffeineinformer.com 8ounces of matcha contains 70mg of caffeine.
- According to the USDA, black tea contains 47mg of caffeine in 8 ounces.
- From the Republic of Tea, green tea contains 20-30mg of caffeine in 8 ounces.
- According to the Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola contains 32mg of caffeine in a 12 ounce can and a can of Diet Coke contains 42mg of caffeine.
Low caffeine Alternatives
What are some low caffeine alternatives that fill your craving, but are still safe for baby?
As you can see decaf coffee does contain some caffeine but it is generally significantly less than regular coffee. One brand of coffee that is especially enticing for pregnant ladies is Mommee Coffee. This product is available in “Half Caf”, “Quarter Caf” and “decaf”. It is especially designed with moms in mind. Mommee Coffee has a low acidity, so it is less likely to upset your stomach. It is also organic, so you don’t need to worry about inorganic additives. It is available whole bean or ground.
A second alternative is matcha. I love matcha and I especially love it as a latte. Matcha is becoming very popular lately and you can probably find it at many cafes. Keep in mind it still does have some caffeine, but not as much as coffee. It can help provide you with a boost of energy without exceeding your daily limit. However, it is typically quite expensive. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty simple to make at home. All you need is a matcha whisk and a high quality matcha tea powder.
Roobios Tea is a good alternative to coffee because you can add milk and sugar or drink it “black” just like coffee. This tea is also full of antioxidants and 100% caffeine free. I have found a great brand on Amazon that is organic, sustainable and ethically farmed.
Warning– while I was doing research for this article I came across Roasted Chicory as a coffee alternative. However, after further research I found that chicory may cause uterine contractions and lead to a miscarriage. Although the associated is not strong, I would avoid taking that risk and avoid roasted chicory.
Link between Caffeine intake and Childhood Obesity
Recently, a new study was published that evaluated the caffeine intake of more than 50,000 women in Norway from 1999-2008. The researchers in the study then measured the weights of the children from birth to 8 years of age. The study found that babies born to women with a moderate (>50mg/day) or higher consumption of caffeine experienced excessive growth in their first year of life. These same children were also at a higher risk of remaining overweight through 8 years of life and then were at an increased risk of becoming obese into adulthood. The association was stronger for children born to women who consumed high (>200mg/day) and very high (>300md/day) amounts of caffeine.
This new study points to the importance of limiting any and all caffeine intake during pregnancy. Even just 50mg of caffeine, or less than 1 cup of coffee can put your child at risk for obesity.
What Do I Do?
I avoid caffeine whenever possible. Most days I opt for caffeine-free teas. However whenever I am really craving a smooth cup I go for a matcha latte. Additionally, I will occasionally have a sip of coffee. For example, if I am out for brunch, I will steal a couple sips of my husband’s coffee. Or if I am at a family get together I’ll take a cappuccino, but make sure I dont finish it. There’s no right or wrong as long as you stay below 200mg/day. Each person will find their own comfort level with their caffeine intake.
Also, be sure to checkout my latest article on choosing the safest sunscreen for you and your family.