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Coffee & Health

Can Coffee Make you Sick When Pregnant?

There’s a lot of controversy about coffee’s effects on pregnant women. Some say a small amount is good, while others claim research is still unfounded. What effect does a cup of coffee or two have during pregnancy? Does coffee affect the baby’s safety or the mother’s health? Can drinking the beverage make them sick? Read on to be adequately informed on the effects of coffee on pregnant women.

coffee sick while pregnant

Why Coffee Might be Considered Harmful

Coffee contains caffeine, a naturally found chemical compound that acts as a stimulant on the nervous system. Caffeine consumption at excessive levels increases the heart rate and blood pressure. While this isn’t something a casual individual should hope to experience from a cup of joe, it’s especially not advised during pregnancy. In addition, caffeine consumption in high amounts could also cause feelings of anxiety, stress, nausea, sleeplessness and headaches.

Following consumption, abruptly ceasing the consumption of coffee could cause the individual to experience some withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include lack of clarity, irritability and tiredness or fatigue, all of which should be avoided during pregnancy. A source claims that consuming large amounts of caffeine could increase the risks of a miscarriage or low birth weight during pregnancy.

That being said, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it’s advised to consume no more than 200mg of coffee daily. Pregnant women should also avoid other sources of caffeine such as tea, cola, energy drinks, and even milk chocolate. The levels of caffeine content found in some sources of caffeine are highlighted below.

  • A cup of instant coffee contains sixty (60) milligrams of caffeine.
  • A single shot of espresso coffee has one hundred (100) milligrams.
  • A cup of plunger coffee has eighty (80) milligrams.
  • A cup of tea contains thirty (30) milligrams.
  • A 375ml can of cola contains forty-nine (49) milligrams.
  • A 250ml can of energy drink has eighty (80) milligrams.
  • One hundred grams of milk chocolate contains twenty (20) milligrams.

Furthermore, another source claims that consumption of high amounts of caffeine should altogether be avoided during the first trimester as it’s unsafe. Later on, during the second and third, coffee can be taken in moderation as it won’t hurt.


Potential Effects of Coffee During Pregnancy

coffee while pregnant

While there are still controversies about the topic, previous claims state that high caffeine consumption led to babies being smaller than expected at their gestational age and intrauterine growth restrictions (IUGR). However, recent research at the National Institute of Health observed that women who consumed caffeine amounts of less than Two hundred (200) milligrams daily while pregnant had slightly smaller babies than women who hadn’t consumed any caffeine.

Researchers noted that possibly, caffeine causes the uterine and placenta blood vessels to constrict, reducing the blood supply to the fetus and resulting in growth inhibition. Also, claims suggest that caffeine could disrupt the fetus’ stress hormone, which risks the baby gaining weight following birth leading to obesity, diabetes and heart diseases later on.

However, other studies show no link between moderate levels of caffeine consumption and low birth weight or intrauterine growth restrictions, premature birth and miscarriages during pregnancy. This controversy is why it’s highly emphasised for pregnant women to stay within moderate levels of more than 200 milligrams daily regarding caffeine levels. If possible, caffeine should be avoided altogether.


Effects of Coffee During Pregnancy

  • During pregnancy, coffee is metabolised a lot slower than when not pregnant. In the third trimester, for instance, it takes the body three times the physiological time to metabolise the coffee.
  • Caffeine from coffee crosses the placenta into the baby’s amniotic fluid. Even while a pregnant woman might be okay with her metabolism rate, the baby still has difficulty processing the caffeine. The baby is exposed to the effects of coffee or caffeine consumed longer than the mother.
  • Caffeine in coffee and other sources will raise a pregnant woman’s heart rate and blood pressure when consumed, especially in higher amounts. Caffeine is a stimulant which is why it affects these changes.
  • Caffeine levels in the body during pregnancy can make a pregnant woman nervous, anxious, jittery and sleepless. Avoid insomnia during pregnancy. If anything, rest and proper sleep are required.
  • Coffee is diuretic and will increase water excretion levels causing urination often. This could increase dehydration status during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always stay hydrated since they’re drinking for two.
  • Caffeine can intensify unwanted pregnancy conditions like heartburn.
  • Healthline stated that consuming coffee and other caffeinated food and beverages while eating a meal is linked to a thirty-nine to ninety per cent (39–90%) reduction in iron absorption. Pregnancy requires all the nutrients it can get, iron included especially. Iron is essential during erythropoiesis, and red blood cell hemoglobin functions to transport oxygen efficiently around the body.
  • Dizziness, abdominal discomfort, restlessness, and diarrhea are other effects of coffee during pregnancy.

How Long Before Enjoying Coffee Again?

If you’re wondering how long till a pregnant woman can enjoy her favourite beverage or chocolate again, it depends. Even after successfully holding off caffeine during pregnancy, pregnant women still have to breastfeed their babies. Caffeine from coffee and other sources can get into babies through breast milk. This is why limiting caffeine intake during breastfeeding is advised, especially during the first few months.

What to Drink Instead of Caffeine

To help get over abstaining from coffee and that oh-so-wanted chocolate, here are some less caffeinated to non-caffeinated options

  • Water
  •  Decaffeinated coffee
  • Herbal tea. Still, consult a health professional first.
  • Juice
  • Mocktails
  • Fruit smoothies.

Here are some recipes for delicious mocktails to try out.



Pregnancy is both a delicate and strength-requiring process. Pregnant women need all the help they can get. Caffeine might give the energy boost needed for daily activities, but regarding pregnancy, it’s better safe than sorry. Sometimes abstaining from coffee, chocolate, or other caffeinated food might be hard for them. It’s essential family and friends help keep them healthy by sticking with them through the journey. Substitute caffeinated drinks for some of these health-friendly non-caffeinated options. Hopefully, this article has informed you better on coffee and caffeine’s effect on pregnancy.


Also read Why Does Coffee Make Me Sick?