Limiting your caffeine intake in pregnancy
Limiting how much caffeine you have during pregnancy is important because high levels have been linked to pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight. It has also been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth. The current NHS guidelines recommend that pregnant women should have less than 200mg a day. This is about 2 cups of instant coffee.
However, new research from our Tommy’s research centres shows that the risk from caffeine increases the more you have. So it’s a good idea to reduce the amount you have as much as possible, to reduce any potential risks. Although this might sound scary, try not to worry as the risk to your baby is still very low.
Calculate your daily caffeine intake
How much caffeine do you have a day?
- A can of cola has around 40mg of caffeine
- A mug of tea has around 75mg
- A bar of plain chocolate has around 25mg
- A cup of instant coffee has around 100mg
- A mug of filter coffee has around 140mg
- Energy drinks: a 250ml can has around 80mg.
If you drink sports drinks, remember check the amount of caffeine in these too. Some now have caffeine added.
What does 200mg of caffeine look like?
You will be reaching 200mg of caffeine with, for example:
- 2 bars of plain chocolate and one mug of filter coffee
- 2 mugs of tea and one can of cola.
Cutting down on caffeine
Caffeine is found naturally in some foods and drinks, such as tea and coffee. It is also added to some products such as energy drinks.
One study found that energy drinks, instant coffee and cola had the strongest links to pregnancy complications. It is best to try to avoid these during pregnancy and find replacements. Energy drinks and cola also contain lots of sugar, so it is good to limit these as part of a healthy diet.
Decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit juice or water are all good choices if you are used to drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks.
Be aware that decaffeinated products still contain a very small amount of caffeine. The amount may vary, but it is still much lower than regular caffeinated products.
I found slowly weaning myself off caffeine and onto decaffeinated versions of tea and coffee was a good way to reduce and majorly decrease my intake. Now I don't even really miss the caffeine buzz.
If you are drinking coffee because you are feeling tired, the best thing to do is eat a balanced, healthy diet to make sure your energy level is maintained. You can also read our tips for getting more sleep during pregnancy.
Caffeine in painkillers
Some painkillers include caffeine, including some types of paracetamol. Tablets that have combined paracetamol and caffeine are not recommended. The patient information leaflet will tell you how much paracetamol and caffeine are in each tablet. Find out more about painkillers and pregnancy.
Always talk to your midwife, pharmacist or another healthcare professional before taking any medicines in pregnancy, including cold and flu remedies.
Heazell A E P., Timms K., et al. (2020) Associations between Consumption of Coffee and Caffeinated Soft Drinks and Late Stillbirth – Findings from the Midland and North of England Stillbirth Case-Control Study. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology. 256:471-477.
NHS Choices (accessed 28/10/20) Can I take paracetamol when I am pregnant? https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/paracetamol-for-adults/
NHS Choices (accessed 28/10/20) Should I limit caffeine during pregnancy?: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2019), Scenario: Antenatal care - uncomplicated pregnancy: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/antenatal-care-uncomplicated-pregnancy/management/antenatal-care-uncomplicated-pregnancy/