Caffeine is a stimulant that provides a boost of energy and makes you feel more alert.
It’s consumed worldwide, with coffee and tea being two of the most popular sources (1Trusted Source).
While caffeine is considered safe for the general population, health authorities advise limiting your intake when expecting (2).
This article discusses how much caffeine you can safely consume during pregnancy.
Is Caffeine safe?
For many people, caffeine has favorable effects on energy levels, focus and even migraines. Additionally, some caffeinated beverages offer health benefits.
However, caffeine can cause negative side effects in some and may pose risks during pregnancy.
caffeine Potential benefits
Caffeine is proven to improve energy levels and focus.
It may also be effective at treating headaches when combined with pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (4Trusted Source).
Additionally, some caffeinated beverages contain antioxidants, beneficial compounds that can protect your cells from damage, reduce inflammation and ward off chronic disease (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
caffeine Potential risks
Caffeine has many potential benefits, but there’s concern that it may be harmful when consumed during pregnancy.
Pregnant women metabolize caffeine much more slowly. In fact, it can take 1.5–3.5 times longer to eliminate caffeine from your body. Caffeine also crosses the placenta and enters the baby’s bloodstream, raising concerns that it can affect the baby’s health (9Trusted Source).
The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) states that moderate amounts of caffeine — less than 200 mg per day — are not linked to an increased risk of miscarriage or preterm birth (10).
However, research suggests that intakes greater than 200 mg per day may raise the risk of miscarriage (11Trusted Source).
Additionally, some evidence suggests that even low intakes of caffeine may result in low birth weight. For example, one study found that low intakes of 50– 149 mg per day during pregnancy were associated with a 13% higher risk of low birth weight (9Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed. The risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and other adverse effects due to higher intakes of caffeine during pregnancy remains largely unclear.
The ACOG recommends limiting your caffeine intake to 200 mg or less if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant (14Trusted Source).
Along with limiting your intake, you should also consider the source.
For instance, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends avoiding energy drinks entirely during pregnancy.
In addition to caffeine, energy drinks usually contain high amounts of added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which lack nutritional value.
They also contain various herbs, such as ginseng, that have been deemed unsafe for pregnant women. Other herbs used in energy drinks have not been adequately studied for their safety during pregnancy (15).
The following herbal teas have been reported as safe during pregnancy (17Trusted Source):
- ginger root
- peppermint leaf
- red raspberry leaf — limit your intake to 1 cup (240 mL) per day during the first trimester
- lemon balm
As with any herbal remedy, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before drinking herbal teas during pregnancy.
Instead, consider caffeine-free beverages, such as water, decaf coffee and safe caffeine-free teas.