Growing a person takes a lot of energy (just ask expectant moms). From the first trimester to your due date, pregnancy can mean waves of fatigue that slow you down or leave you feeling exhausted. This goes double for women who are pregnant with children already in tow.
While it’s tempting to grab a cup (or three) of joe for a little pick-me-up, there are some concerns — namely, the large amount of caffeine found in coffee.
Caffeine During Pregnancy
Most doctors agree that moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy — or less than 200 milligrams per day — is probably safe, though more research is needed. While studies have shown caffeine does cross the placenta (meaning that if mom drinks it, the baby drinks it, too), there’s currently no reason to believe that small amounts of caffeine will have huge effects on growing babies.
Large-scale studies specifically looking at caffeine and the risk for miscarriage and early labor didn’t find any cause for concern for women who consume small amounts, though health experts still aren’t sure about whether any amount of caffeine can impact a baby’s growth.
For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stops short of telling pregnant women to avoid caffeine entirely — instead recommending they limit their daily amount. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees, advising expectant moms to stick to less than 200 milligrams a day to be safe.
Caffeine in Common Products
What 200 milligrams a day looks like in practice will depend on a lot of factors. How much caffeine is in any one cup of coffee can vary, based on the type of roast, how it’s brewed, and how strong it is.
For example, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee made in a standard coffee pot typically has around 95-165 milligrams of caffeine, while an espresso clocks in at around 47-64 milligrams. A latte or mocha, on the other hand, contains about 63-126 milligrams.
Coffee isn’t the only drink with caffeine, however. Black or green teas, as well as most sodas (like Coke or Dr Pepper) have about 24-48 milligrams in a standard serving. Energy drinks have some of the widest ranges, containing anywhere from 27-164 milligrams of caffeine. Even decaf coffees and teas have roughly 2-5 milligrams in them.
Foods can also be sources of caffeine. Granola bars, ice cream, and fitness shakes can all contain small-to-large amounts, and a serving of chocolate — especially dark chocolate — can have as much caffeine as a latte.
Currently, the amount of caffeine in manufactured foods isn’t required by law to be included on nutrition labels in the United States, so it can be tough to know just how much caffeine is in any one product. Some chain coffee shops like Starbucks, however, do provide caffeine information on their website. But if you aren’t sure how much you’re getting, sticking to just one small cup of coffee a day — and avoiding foods with coffee or chocolate in them — will likely keep you under that 200 milligram threshold.