Pregnancy Q&A

How safe is it to drink coffee when pregnant?

11 September 2015
by The Clicks team

Q: Coffee is the lifeline I use to get me through the day. But now that I am pregnant I am feeling uneasy about drinking it.

A: The fact of the matter is that coffee does get through to your baby. So while there are no definitive studies that show that coffee is harmful to your foetus, you know in your heart that it can’t be good, hence your uneasiness. Your baby’s system takes longer than yours to process chemicals, which means that the caffeine also stays in the baby’s system for longer than it does in yours.

Know the risks

If you are unable to quit drinking coffee you should cut down as much as possible – ideally to one or two cups per day. There is a reported link between heavy coffee consumption (around 6 cups per day) and increased risk of miscarriage. Perhaps it would be helpful to try a lighter brand, since the caffeine content of different coffees varies dramatically. Since you’re already consuming considerable quantities of caffeine, be sure to check the labels of the foods you choose because a surprising number of foods such as chocolate, tea and soft drinks also contain caffeine.

There are a couple of other aspects you need to be aware of. The first is that the diuretic effect of coffee can deplete your calcium stores, and also leach water from your system. In addition to making you run to the toilet even more than normal, this can be unhealthy for the foetus. Also be aware that you may be taking in more empty calories than you realise, what with the sugar and milk or cream.