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You may not have to give up your morning cup of joe.

You’re used to starting the day with a caffeine jolt — but now you’re pregnant. Do you really have to skip your morning mug of energy? 

“The good news is that most people can have some caffeine when they’re pregnant,” says Sandra Culbertson, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

How much caffeine can you have when pregnant?

When you’re expecting, you’ll want to keep your caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams a day. 

While pregnant, your body may take longer to process caffeine, so it stays in your bloodstream longer than when you’re not pregnant. And your baby will consume the caffeine you eat or drink.

“Coffee typically includes up to 140 milligrams of caffeine per cup,” says Dr. Culbertson. Drinking one cup of coffee each day should be fine during pregnancy, though you should listen to your body and how it (and your baby) are reacting to the caffeine. 

Sources of caffeine

Because one cup of coffee contains most of what you may be able to drink in a day, you’ll want to pay attention to other sources of caffeine to truly manage your intake. 

Here’s a general guide for how much caffeine might be in some popular food and drink servings: 

  • 100 mg in one mug of instant coffee
  • 80 mg in one energy drink can
  • 75 mg in one mug of tea
  • 40 mg in one soft drink can
  • 31 mg in chocolate
  • 12 mg in one mug of decaffeinated coffee
  • 9 mg in one mug of hot chocolate

Talk with your doctor or OB-GYN if you’re not sure if you should have caffeine while you’re pregnant. Based on your personal health history, they can help you decide if and how much you can have each day without affecting your baby. If you have symptoms of caffeine sensitivity, you may need to cut back on or eliminate your caffeine intake.

Caffeine sensitivity symptoms can include: 

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Headache 

A cup a day

While no more than a cup per day is safe for most, listen to your body, too. If you’ve been cleared to drink coffee but don’t feel great after having a cup, try decaf or caffeine-free tea. And reference the list above to make sure other things you’re eating and drinking aren’t increasing your daily caffeine to over 200 milligrams. 

“If you need to cut caffeine but are having a hard time going cold turkey, you can start by mixing decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee,” says Dr. Culbertson. “Shift the ratio over time until you’re drinking completely decaffeinated coffee.” 

And if you have caffeine sensitivity at any time during your pregnancy, it’s time to find another morning beverage. Give your doctor or OB-GYN a call if you have any questions or concerns.

“Everyone’s body is different. We all process caffeine differently, so your doctor can give you the best advice so you can safely enjoy your pregnancy journey,” says Dr. Culbertson.

Next steps:

Meet Sandra Culbertson, MD
Is it too late for a baby?
Learn about pregnancy care at Geisinger

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