Can you Drink Coffee during Pregnancy

The prohibition of coffee is one of the most persistent nutritional myths in pregnancy, but how much of this myth is based on reality? Do you really have to get rid of your caffeinated morning wake up ritual?

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No coffee-break with the baby?

Before the pregnancy, coffee was an everyday must-have, but suddenly it only tastes bitter and ‘ew’. Many expectant mothers don’t fancy the taste of coffee anymore. In this case, the body itself makes a clear decision against the caffeinated beverage – and if you don’t like the taste, then you don’t even have to prohibit the drink.

What can caffeine actually do?

An aversion to coffee, however, is not the rule. After all, the invigorating hot drink is an integral part of our morning rituals, our working lives, and our culture of indulgence: 162 liters of coffee were consumed by the average German in 2015 – that’s about four cups of filter coffee daily. No surprise, because the caffeine contained in coffee makes us feel awake, active, and alive.

From light latte macchiato to strong espresso: coffee is a tasty part of our everyday life. Why should one have to bid their favorite drink farewell in pregnancy; an exciting as well as tiring time?

Current studies regarding coffee consumption during pregnancy

A Norwegian study from 2013 with almost 60,000 participating pregnant women showed the following results regarding the consumption of caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, black tea, and cola:

  • There is no correlation between caffeine intake and premature birth, miscarriage, or serious complications.
  • The higher the caffeine intake, the higher the likelihood of below-average birth weight: 100 milligrams – on average less than one cup of coffee a day – could already lead to a 20-30 gram reduction in the birth weight.

To coffee or not to coffee, that is the question

A lower birth weight? That sounds dramatic at first. But the experts from the network “Gesund ins Leben” have examined the study and came to the following conclusions:

• The study could not demonstrate whether caffeine was responsible for a lower infant birth weight.

• The indicated weight reduction is also a negligible amount.

All in all, “Gesund ins Leben” came to the conclusion that there is still a need for further research in this area and that, until then, the currently issued recommendations for diet during pregnancy need not be adjusted. Other scientific organizations such as the German Nutrition Society (DGE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) agree and continue to recommend a maximum of three cups a day.

The researchers are therefore unanimous regarding one thing: even the Norwegian study results do not mean that expectant mothers have to completely suppress their coffee needs – it merely depends on the quantities.

If in doubt, a discussion with a gynecologist and/or midwife can help. These can individually assess the condition of mother and child and give a personal recommendation regarding coffee.

Are there coffee alternatives?

Are black or green tea, guarana or energy drinks a real alternative when it comes to regular coffee replacement? Again, a consumption of 3-4 cups (150ml per cup) a day of black or green tea is considered harmless according to the DGE. Guarana and energy drinks, on the other hand, are not recommended as a precaution by scientific societies, as they may contain very high levels of caffeine.

How can you compensate for the fatigue attacks that haunt you during pregnancy? Well, on the one hand, the fatigue is not without reason: in 40 weeks, the body is permanently in high performance mode and therefore calls for well-needed periods of rest. On the other hand, the question arises whether one should fight this need with the usual waker-uppers. If possible, it would be better to take little breaks instead, if the body demands it. This not only refreshes physical and mental powers, but also helps to strengthen the relationship with the baby – and without any possible side effects.

Coffee consumption in moderation is allowed

In short, the same applies to coffee as to (almost) everything in pregnancy: those who listen to their body and keep their lusting for foods in check to a certain degree, do the best for themselves – and for the baby.

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