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Caffeine recommendations for pregnancy

Useful information about caffeinated foods and drinks and their recommended daily consumption during pregnancy.
There has been such a lot of controversy in the press about the effect of caffeine on fetal development that as an expectant mother it can be difficult to know whether your morning cup of coffee is going to harm your baby. In an attempt to clarify the issue and make things a lot easier for Mums-to-be, the Food Standards Agency have made a set of recommendations relating to the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy.

While excessive caffeine intake has been linked to an increase in pregnancy complications, research reviewed by the Food Standards Agency suggests that moderate caffeine intake throughout pregnancy is unlikely to have any seriously adverse effects on mother or child.

As the effects of caffeine differ between individuals due to factors such as body size, caffeine tolerance and ability to metabolise caffeine (as pregnancy progresses the bodies ability to metabolise caffeine depletes so it remains in the body for longer periods), guidelines will not apply to everyone, especially those with a medical condition sensitive to caffeine intake i.e. high blood pressure so if in doubt it is best to consult a physical. However, for most people the recommendation is completely safe.

So, how exactly does a 'moderate' dose of caffeine translate into the real world? The Food Standards Agency categorise this as consuming less than 200g of caffeine a day from food and drink.

For example;
  • up to 2 x 100mg cups of instant coffee
  • up to 1 x 140mg cups of brewed coffee
  • up to 2 x 75mg cups of tea
  • up to 5 x 40mg cans of fizzy drink
  • up to 2 x 80mg of energy drink
  • up to 4 x 50mg bars of chocolate
These are only rough approximations as the exact amount of caffeine present in a cup of tea or coffee will depend on factors such as how strong the blend is and how long it has been left to diffuse. Fizzy drinks and chocolate are likely to display the amount of caffeine contained in the nutritional information provided on the packaging so these can be used to help calculate how much you have consumed.

By mixing and matching different caffeinated products throughout the day you are still able to safely consume the full range of caffeinated foods and soft drinks you enjoyed before pregnancy (within reason!).

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