Only decaffeinated coffee? What you should consider about caffeine during pregnancy.

Written by: Smilla H.



Time to read 5 min

Coffee is simply the best in the morning, right? When we are tired or stressed, we always hope that the delicious smell and taste of a hot coffee will help us up. But caffeine is not without controversy during pregnancy. The caffeine from our blood reaches the child's body through the umbilical cord and has the same effect there as it does on us.

But before you reach for decaffeinated coffee for nine months: A little caffeine is often okay. Here are the most important facts about coffee and caffeine during pregnancy summarized for you.

What happens when you consume caffeine?

You've probably already noticed it yourself. Caffeine makes you awake pretty quickly, pretty awake. As soon as coffee enters your stomach, some of the caffeine is already absorbed. Your blood pressure rises, your heartbeat quickens, you become more alert. With black or green tea, you will notice the energy boost a little later.

The caffeine is absorbed differently here.

The effect of caffeine on the body depends on both the frequency of consumption and individual sensitivity and metabolism.

By the way, regular consumption leads to habituation effects. This means that your four cups of coffee no longer wake you up as reliably after a few weeks or months. The half-life of caffeine is longer than you think. Only after about four to five hours will your body have broken down half of the caffeine. Normally.

Now what happens if you drink coffee while pregnant? First of all, exactly the same. But for two people. “Caffeine passes through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream,” explains Prof. Dr. Christian Dannecker, Head of the Clinic for Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Augsburg.

In addition, caffeine is broken down much more slowly during pregnancy. It sometimes takes a full 18 hours for just half of the caffeine to be broken down. So if you consume a lot of caffeine several times throughout the day, you will hardly be able to break it down during pregnancy. Decaffeinated coffee is a great alternative if you don't want to go without a hot cup in the afternoon.

What are the risks?

So what about the occasional cup of coffee? Can you still enjoy an espresso or is caffeine-free coffee the only option? The data here is actually quite thin. Some studies have found certain abnormalities in children's later behavior. However, the research here was based on self-reports from pregnant people. In addition, other risk factors could not be ruled out here.

So is the fear of caffeine during pregnancy unfounded? Can you safely forego caffeine-free alternatives and go straight for espresso?

Not really. Caffeine should still be consumed with caution during pregnancy. Very high amounts have been proven to have negative effects on the child. According to studies, amounts of 600 mg and above lead to lower birth weight. Probably because the placenta has poorer blood flow. The risk of premature birth is also increased. So if you like to drink several cups of coffee throughout the day, decaffeinated is the way to go!

How much caffeine is allowed?

You should not consume more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day during pregnancy. That's roughly equivalent to two cups of coffee per day. But be careful: this reference value does not only refer to the coffee you drink. Other foods are also included here. For example, lemonade, chocolate and cocoa also contain caffeine. So don't just pay attention to coffee, but always the entire quantity!

Briefly on the subject of energy drinks : you should stay away from them during pregnancy. They often contain much more caffeine than recommended and the effects of other ingredients such as glucuronolactone or taurine have not yet been sufficiently researched.

The recommendation of a maximum of 200 milligrams of caffeine during pregnancy comes from the EFSA - the European Society for Food Safety. The World Health Organization and the German Nutrition Society also state similar values.

Alternatives – decaffeinated coffee etc.

One thing is certain: if you want your baby to be born healthy and happy, you should avoid excessive coffee consumption. Especially if you also snack on chocolate or drink cola.

If you're not as crazy about coffee as I am, you can choose tea without caffeine. Rooibos, herbal tea, fruit tea – there is a wide selection for fans of hot drinks. But what do you do if you just don't want to give up the cappuccino? There are also some options for coffee lovers.

The easiest solution: decaffeinated coffee . There are countless versions from many roasters here. You can find some of the best decaffeinated coffees on our platform. Roasteries like Ohne have even specialized in “decaffeinated”. They offer different coffees for portafilters or filters that you can drink safely even during pregnancy. Another option is lupine coffee. You've probably seen it in the health food store before. In addition to milk substitute products, lupine also works well as a coffee substitute.

So you have several alternatives so that you don't have to go without anything during pregnancy.

FAQ Caffeine in pregnancy

What does caffeine actually do to the body?

Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and increases alertness and attention. It increases blood pressure and accelerates heartbeat.

How does caffeine affect the body during pregnancy?

Caffeine enters the baby's body via the placenta and has the same effect there as it does in the mother's organism. However, during pregnancy, caffeine is broken down more slowly, resulting in longer-lasting effects.

How should I dose the coffee beans for the French press?

We recommend coarse to medium ground coffee for the French press. About 65 grams of coffee powder per liter of water (or 8 grams per cup of coffee) is ideal.

What are the risks of consuming caffeine during pregnancy?

Studies suggest that high caffeine consumption during pregnancy can reduce the baby's birth weight and increase the risk of premature birth. Very high amounts of caffeine, over 600 mg, are particularly problematic.

How much caffeine is allowed during pregnancy?

It is recommended to consume no more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day during pregnancy, which is equivalent to about two cups of coffee. This value also includes caffeine from other sources such as chocolate and soda.

What alternatives are there to caffeinated coffee?

If you want to avoid caffeine during pregnancy, you can use decaffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea (e.g. rooibos or herbal tea) or lupine coffee. These alternatives allow you to enjoy the taste of coffee without the risks of caffeine consumption.

Why should you avoid energy drinks during pregnancy?

Energy drinks often contain high amounts of caffeine and other ingredients such as glucuronolactone or taurine, whose effects on pregnant women and their babies have not been sufficiently researched. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid energy drinks during pregnancy.

Should you avoid caffeine altogether during pregnancy?

It is usually not necessary to completely avoid caffeine. However, it is important to reduce consumption and not exceed the recommended upper limit of 200 to 300 milligrams per day. An occasional espresso or cup of coffee is generally safe as long as it stays within these limits. However, the decision should be made in consultation with a doctor.