Ask a Nutritionist: Is coffee OK during pregnancy?

Of all the pregnancy-related questions we get from our pregnant clients, “Do I have to give up coffee?” is one of the most common. And we totally get it — coffee isn’t only an energy booster in the morning, it’s also part of a self-care ritual related to how we start the day for many of us. So, the good news is that no, you don’t need to completely give up coffee when you’re pregnant. But, you might need to make a few adjustments.

In observational studies (the type where a researcher simply looks at a population of people, but there’s no intervention), excessive caffeine intake has been linked to to increased risk of miscarriage. But, larger studies do not show a benefit to avoiding caffeine altogether. Which leaves us with the word so many love to hate, but we personally just straight up love…moderation. Most health professionals (us included) agree with the March of Dimes recommendation that consuming up to 200mg/day of caffeine is safe for baby.

So what does 200mg of caffeine a day look like? You’ll find a lot of recommendations say it’s about 2 cups of coffee a day. But that’s talking about 2, 8-ounce cups of home brewed coffee. If you’re grabbing your joe at a coffee shop, your “cup” size is likely somewhere between 10 – 20 ounces. Plus, the concentration of caffeine can REALLY vary, depending on where you’re getting your coffee. For instance, Starbucks java has around 1.5 times more caffeine than the same amount of home-brewed coffee. We recommend sticking with a “short” cup of coffee (i.e. 8 ounces) when you hit Starbucks. We love referring to this amazing chart of caffeine in almost any beverage you can think of from Center for Science in the Public Interest. Also keep in mind that caffeine comes from other sources, including a little bit in chocolate, as well as black and green tea.

For more answers to your pregnancy Qs, along with over 125 recipes, check out our cookbook, Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook!

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