Eating and nutrition
Caffeine in pregnancy
The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant get no more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. This is the amount of caffeine in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.
How does caffeine affect your body?
Caffeine helps keep you awake. It slightly increases your blood pressure and heart rate and the amount of urine your body makes. Caffeine causes some people to feel jittery, have indigestion or have trouble sleeping.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. During pregnancy, you may be especially sensitive to caffeine because it may take you longer to clear it from your body than someone who’s not pregnant.
Does caffeine during pregnancy affect your baby?
Yes. During pregnancy, caffeine passes through the placenta and reaches your baby. Caffeine may decrease blood flow to the placenta, which may cause problems for your baby.
You may have heard that too much caffeine can cause miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy). Some studies say this is true and some say it’s not. Until we know more about how caffeine can affect pregnancy, it’s best to limit the amount you get to 200 milligrams each day.
Is caffeine safe during breastfeeding?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it’s safe for breastfeeding moms to have caffeine. A small amount of caffeine does get into breast milk, so limit caffeine if you’re breastfeeding. Breastfed babies of women who drink more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day may become irritable or have trouble sleeping.
What foods and drinks contain caffeine?
Caffeine is found in:
- Coffee and coffee-flavored products, like yogurt and ice cream
- Some soft drinks
- Chocolate and chocolate products, like chocolate syrup and hot cocoa
The amount of caffeine in foods and drinks varies a lot. For coffee and tea, the brand, how it’s prepared, the type of beans or leaves used, and the way it’s served (espresso, latte and others) can affect the amount of caffeine.
The table below lists foods and drinks and the amount of caffeine each contains. The amounts listed are averages, so they may change depending on the brand or how the food or drink is made.
What medicines contain caffeine?
Some medicines used for pain relief, migraines, colds and to help keep you awake contain caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that label on medicine lists the amount of caffeine in the medicine.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider before taking any medicine that contains caffeine. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicine. A prescription is an order for medicine given by a health care provider. Over-the-counter means medicine, like pain relievers and cough syrup, you can buy without a prescription.
Some herbal products contain caffeine. These include guarana, yerba mate, kola nut and green tea extract. Herbal products are made from herbs, which are plants that are used in cooking and for medicine. The FDA does not require that herbal products have a label saying how much caffeine they contain. Some herbal products have as much caffeine as 8 cups of coffee! If you’re pregnant, don’t use herbal products because we don’t know how much caffeine they contain.
Last reviewed June 2012
Foods to avoid
- Unpasteurized milk or juice
- Soft cheeses like feta and Brie
- Unheated deli meats and hot dogs
- Refrigerated, smoked seafood
- Undercooked poultry, meat or seafood