Update: The New Coffee Rules for Pregnancy

Sometimes all of the jokes about coffee and motherhood are a tad bit annoying, aren't they? 

Or at least they might be annoying to me if they weren't all completely and 100% true. [insert sheepish face here]

Yes, it's true. I am definitely one of the stereotypical yoga pants-wearing, coffee-chugging mothers of the modern era, and I'm really OK with that. But while my coffee consumption has only increased proportionally with the number of children I have had (currently at four, which usually equates to about two cups of coffee a day), I definitely try to cut back on my coffee intake when I'm pregnant. 

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Luckily for me, I tend to lose the taste of coffee when I'm pregnant (it makes me nauseated), but in times of desperation, I have longed for its magical powers. 

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Image via Flickr/ epSos.de

For the most part, doctors have taken a moderate approach to coffee consumption during pregnancy. One cup is OK, decaf is probably better, and swapping out coffee completely for straight-up water is obviously the healthiest choice ever. Overall, unless a woman was very high risk or just worried about it, coffee has been considered one of those things about pregnancy that doesn't cause much uproar.

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Until now. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit advocacy group in Washington, D.C., is pushing really hard to get the guidelines for safe caffeine consumption during pregnancy changed — in a major way. 

Right now, current guidelines state that pregnant women can drink up to 200 milligrams of caffeinated beverages a day, but not an ounce more. The CSPI, however, says that 200 milligrams is too much and that even drinking as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine a day has been linked to horrible consequences, such as increased rates of leukemia in their children, stillbirth, and low birth weights. 

How much is 100 milligrams of caffeine, you ask? Depending on how strong you brew it, the CSPI says an at-home cup of coffee can contain up to 150 milligrams, so it could be as little as just one cup of coffee a day. Bottom line: the CSPI thinks that pregnant women should cut out caffeine. Period. 

“Pregnant women deserve accurate advice about the risks caffeine poses to their healthy pregnancy and have been badly misinformed,” said CSPI chief regulatory affairs attorney Laura MacCleery. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans shouldn't compound this problem by conveying an impression that 200 milligrams per day is some kind of red line below which caffeine is safe and above which caffeine is dangerous. Instead, the science indicates that even lower levels of caffeine can increase the risk of serious problems, including for only a cup or two of regular coffee per day.”

For me, like anything else in pregnancy, I do believe that moderation is the key. Personally, I don't drink coffee on a regular basis when I'm pregnant, but a cup here and there wouldn't be cause for alarm for me. But as with all things, be sure to speak with your health care provider if you're a regular coffee drinker when you get pregnant, because you may want to consider alternatives just to be safe. 

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What about you? Do you drink coffee during your pregnancy? 

What do you think?

Update: The New Coffee Rules for Pregnancy

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

Tell us what you think!

15 comments

  1. Cathy says:

    I had at least 2 cups a day. I drink coffee like it’s water throughout the morning anyway. But my daughter wasn’t a small baby, she has no diseases, ailments, allergies, or birth defects. She’s perfect. Inside and out at a happy 6 1/2 months. I’m in love with my munchkin. 🙂

  2. Laura says:

    Caffeine is naturally occurring in many different foods and drinks that we use every day, it isn’t some off the wall chemical that we intentionally seek out. Yes coffee and soda have high amounts (though actually soda you can drink several before reaching the original “Omg too much!” limit.. I think it was 5 cokes in a day which most women can’t do. If Caffeine was really this all around evil the scientist keep making it out to be and causes all these horrid birth defects and complications then there are whole cultures that should have essentially died out. Look at the oriental cultures, they in the past were very heavy tea drinkers, often using tea as a means of medication. Tea has nearly as much caffeine as most soda’s and they would drink tea nearly day in and day out, they also continued to consume alcohol.

    It is all about moderation and also how your body handles it. From talking to other mothers, it seems those that cant handle caffeine normally have issues with it during pregnancy. Then you got someone like me that as my husband claims doesn’t have a blood but sugar system.. I can down can after can of soda. I drank soda constantly through my twins and this pregnancy, it actually is the only way to fight back the morning sickness.

  3. LambChops305 says:

    I also drank espresso throughout my pregnancy. 2-4 a day. There were times I tried switching to decaf espresso and other times I mixed them for a half caf but ultimately I kept returning to full caf and was only able to cut down to one a day by the end of the 10 months. My little man is now 5 n half months and is very active and alert. When he was born his apgar score was 9 and 9. Obviously moderation is key but if you can’t quit then cut down. If you can’t do either then don’t worry. But every one is different and every pregnancy is different so always be careful.

  4. MarcelosWife says:

    I am a proud Mom of 4 healthy children who were all born to term and had healthy birth weights. My recent pregnancy was high risk due to my weight and age(40) and I had just been diagnosed with Diabetes. But he was born healthy and with all my pregnancies I drank 2 or more cups a day of expresso. People I have been doing this since 1997 and my oldest (17) is healthy! I do not believe in the pish posh about coffee drinking. If you are reffering to soda and other drinks laced with caffeine then I TOTALLY AGREE! I am not a big fan of soda or energy drinks EVER!

  5. malissa says:

    I have carried 5 babies to term. A set of twis born at 37weeks 2days, a girl 42week, a girl at 40 wk 1 day, and a boy 39wk 6days. I drank coffee almost all day long the whole pregancy with all of them.. It actually calmed my nauseous which was the whole nine. All five of my kids are perfect an honor roll and my 15yr twins are actually already taking afew college courses in high school. I’m a proud Mama. And I actually credited Alittle bit of their brains to how much coffee I drank with my pregnancy like it kicked their brain in high gear.

  6. Jennifer says:

    And my intake during my first was pregnancy was one medium per day because that was “the generally accepted guideline”. No more than that.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I personally have carried two children to term and only have one living. During my first pregnancy, I drank coffee daily and she was very active. I was told not to worry. She passed on her due date and we have birth to her stillborn. She was so active, she had twisted so much that her cord wrapped around her neck three times, causing tension in the cord which bled, clotted and suffocated her. For my son, we were seen weekly by a maternal fetal medicine specialist who was adamant that I did not consume any caffeine. He was extremely upset with his profession and how they are not putting enough stress on things we do as mothers that could have a negative outcome on our babies, beginning in the womb. You see, caffeine is a chemical. One that the average American easily becomes dependent on and our society looks at it as if it is ok- because it’s a legal substance. But it’s still a substance like any other and a highly addictive one. And think about why we become reliant on it. To wake us up, to give us an extra jolt of energy. Why would we want this chemical put into our fetus’? How is their reaction to caffeine any different? It isn’t. When you give birth and are breast feeding, you’re even told to be careful with starting caffeine again because your child’s body might not be able to handle it and it has been known to cause negative side effects in our newborns even coming through breast milk. The statistic for cords being wrapped around fetus’ necks is alarmingly high, as is birth ending in a stillbirth because of it. My specialist, and the team treating me throughout my second pregnancy, could not rule out my caffeine intake as a contributing factor to our loss. If this chemical causes us to be extra active, why would it not do the same to our unborn babies? I am now a big advocate for avoiding caffeine during pregnancy and am so glad to see an article that is finally putting stress on the negative effects of it while a woman is pregnant. It isn’t worth it mamas, your number 1 job as a mother is to protect your baby. Coffee will still exist 40 weeks out! Why take the risk of making your fetus dependent on this chemical too?

  8. Lora says:

    When I first got pregnant I avoided all caffeine, not that I had a lot before I got pregnant anyway, but I did have my morning cup o’ joe and an occasional soda. Unfortunately I started getting migraines every month so my doctor recommended I drink caffeine (cuz Tylenol did NOTHING to help). It worked! So I have a cup of regular coffee every morning and ice tea at dinner. No more headaches! And so far, I too have a jumpy little monkey 🙂

  9. Kristi says:

    I never drank coffee before I got pregnant, I still don’t drink a ton of it. I’m sure the Starbucks frapachino drinks are high, but they taste good. I think caffeine along with everything else, is fine in moderation.

  10. Heather says:

    To late now for me I’m 8 months prego and have drank coffee and soda throughout my pregnancy. My belly size matches my weeks though and he moves like a little monkey

    • MarcelosWife says:

      No worries! He’ll be perfect! I have four children and drank coffee all through pregnancy and my oldest is an honor roll student and the rest are way ahead of what they are eexpected in school! I also breastfed them all! 🙂 Congrats!

  11. I have four children soon to be five and I have drank coffee every morning through all of my pregnancies. Maybe when I’m running late or didn’t have enough time to brew a pot. However all my babies were healthy and still have no complications within any of them. So my thought on the whole coffee intake is just keep it simple and try to keep it cut back somewhat but why stop everything you do in life just because you are expecting.

  12. courtney says:

    I miss coffee! But the caffeine intake is just scary during pregnancy. Think i’ll stick to no coffee during pregnancy

  13. Julie B says:

    Coffee is currently one of my nausea triggers. Even the smell gets me running to the bathroom. I miss coffee and i can’t wait to be able to drink it again after my little one is born in February. I’m definitely going to savor the first cup I have!

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