Can I have Caffeine while Pregnant and Breastfeeding?

AngelaRD, LDN, CBS

Read time: 4 minutes

What to know about how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • How much caffeine can I have during pregnancy?

  • How much caffeine can I have while breastfeeding?

  • Symptoms of too much caffeine

  • What are caffeine-containing foods and beverages?

Low energy is a common pregnancy and postpartum-related complaint, but before reaching for a cup of coffee for a java jolt, it is important to understand how much caffeine is recommended during pregnancy and postpartum.

How much caffeine can I drink during pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day during pregnancy.1,18 This is equal to about 12 oz (350mL) of regular brewed coffee.

Effects of caffeine on pregnancy

While a small amount of caffeine daily usually does not negatively affect your pregnancy, there is some concern that too much caffeine may cause harm to your developing fetus. Some studies indicate that too much caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage or preterm birth, but other studies do not show this to be an issue.1,18,24

Since the effects of too much caffeine during pregnancy are not clear, it is best to stick with the recommended 200mg per day.

Did you know: Pregnancy slows down how quickly the body is able to break down caffeine. In fact, during the third trimester caffeine may stay in the body for up to 15 hours!26

Read about: Which Nutrients do I Need during Pregnancy?

How much caffeine can I drink during breastfeeding?

It turns out that caffeine can pass into breastmilk and that excessive caffeine intake can potentially make an infant jittery and restless.10 For this reason, most health professionals recommend drinking 300mg or less of caffeine per day while breastfeeding.11

Some babies are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so watch your little one’s symptoms. Reactions to too much caffeine may include your baby becoming more irritable, sleeping less, and fussing more.11,25 If you notice any of these, consider lowering the amount of caffeine you have each day to see if that helps.9

Newborns and preterm infants may be more sensitive to caffeine’s effects.9 You may want to consume a lower amount of caffeine in the first few weeks after your baby is born or if your infant is premature.9

Read about: Meal Plan: Getting The Right Nutrition While Breastfeeding

How does caffeine affect you?

Caffeine can act as a stimulant, which means it may negatively impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.2

In larger quantities, caffeine may act as a diuretic which may increase urine volume and cause frequent urination.3,12 This means for some people, too much caffeine may be dehydrating.

Caffeine aids in the release of acid in the stomach, which can result in heartburn, reflux, or stomach upset.2,13

Other symptoms of excess caffeine intake may include:

  • Shakiness

  • Jitters

  • Increased heart rate

  • Possible uneven heart rate

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Dependency on caffeine19

It is important to consider your caffeine intake if you are struggling with any of these issues.

Do you have questions about the caffeine you are drinking and whether or not It is affecting your baby? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Which foods and beverages contain caffeine?

In addition to coffee (both regular and decaf), caffeine is also present in:

  • Non-herbal teas, including: Green, matcha, yerba maté, chai, black, and oolong

  • Decaf coffee. Although the caffeine content in decaffeinated coffee is much less than caffeinated coffee, there are still small amounts of caffeine present. It is important to be mindful of how much decaf coffee you are drinking.

  • Some medications, including certain headache and migraine medications

  • Chocolate and some soda

  • Certain herbal products and supplements. Notably those that contain guarana, paullinea cupana, and kola nut / cola nitida.

  • Energy drinks. Of note, it may be best to avoid these altogether due to the unknown (or at least undisclosed) amounts of additives, potentially including vitamins, taurine, theanine, carnitine, herbs, creatine, and guarana (a plant product that naturally contains concentrated caffeine).2,7,19,20,21

Can I drink green tea while pregnant and breastfeeding?

Not only does green tea contain some caffeine, but it may also limit your body’s absorption of folic acid.14,16 Folic acid is a B vitamin that is critical during pregnancy as it promotes the proper development of an unborn baby’s neural tube, which later becomes the brain and spinal cord.15

For this reason, it may be best to limit your green tea consumption to 1 (8 oz) cup per day.17

Chat with your doctor for more information.

Learn more: Why Does Folate Matter For Babies, Tots and Mama

Tips on limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Limit caffeine to no more than 200mg per day if pregnant and 300mg per day if breastfeeding

Remember to add up all sources of caffeine – from food, beverages, and medications.

Here’s a cheat sheet with the average amount of caffeine in common foods and drinks:

  • Brewed coffee (8oz):137mg of caffeine

  • Instant coffee (8oz): 76mg of caffeine

  • Decaffeinated coffee (8oz): 2.4 mg caffeine

  • Brewed tea (8oz): 48mg of caffeine

  • Instant tea (8oz): 31mg of caffeine

  • Green tea (8 oz): 28 mg of caffeine

  • Dark chocolate (1.5oz):31mg of caffeine

  • Soda (8oz):25mg of caffeine

  • Milk chocolate (1.5oz):11mg of caffeine

  • Hot cocoa (1 packet):10mg of caffeine

  • Chocolate syrup (2Tbsp):3mg of caffeine

  • Coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt:2mg of caffeine2,8

Be an ingredient list and food label detective

Always read the ingredients list and label to check whether caffeine is hiding in the foods you’re looking to buy. Increasingly popular “energy foods” like gum, mints, energy bars, waffles, jerky and even oatmeal can contain caffeine.19,21

Additionally, certain bottled waters, water flavorings, workout supplements, and coffee-flavored ice cream also contain caffeine.27

These caffeine sources may add up quickly and some have additional ingredients that may not be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Speak with your healthcare provider

Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can help you understand how much caffeine, if any, is in the medications you are taking.

Rest up and eat well

If you’re feeling exhausted, make sure to get plenty of rest.

Instead of reaching for a cup coffee, find time for light exercise and fuel your body regularly with the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, beans, and nuts it needs to support you and your baby.

Let's Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Meal and Hydration Plan for Supporting Milk Supply

How can I Help my Baby (4-12 months) Sleep Well at Night?

Tips for Staying Hydrated while Pregnant and Breastfeeding

How Can I get more Sleep after Having a Baby?

Meal Plan: Key Nutrients of Pregnancy