I’ve recently had quite a few friends ask me about how many teas and coffees they can consume during pregnancy and what are the current caffeine recommendations for pregnant women. There seems to be some confusion about how much caffeine is in a typical tea for example, and how much caffeine, if any, should be consumed…
Caffeine recommendations for pregnant women
Pregnant women are recommended by the UK Government to keep their intake of caffeine to less than 200 mg a day. The reason for this is that high levels of caffeine may increase the risk of having a miscarriage and also may lead to a low birth weight baby.
What foods contain caffeine?
Other than chocolate, which contains a small amount of caffeine, most of our caffeine comes from drinks including tea, coffee and soft drinks such as cola.
the current caffeine recommendations for pregnant women mean that this population group needs to keep an eye on their intakes and potentially restrict how many caffeinated foods and drinks they consume each day.
How much caffeine is in my tea?
To put the 200 mg of caffeine into context the NHS provide a guide to the levels of caffeine in commonly consumed tea and coffees in the UK.
1 mug of black tea = 75 mg caffeine
1 mug of green tea = 35-55 mg caffeine
1 mug of instant coffee = 100 mg caffeine
1 mug of filter coffee = 140 mg caffeine
However, the below infographic from the infant and toddler forum shows a fantastic visual demonstration of caffeine levels in our favourite drinks and for specific cup sizes too.
You can see from the above infographic that having just one mug of tea plus one mug of coffee can put you close to, or even over, your maximum recommended caffeine intake for the day.
On top of this, the amount of caffeine found in drinks such as a latte or a cappuccino at local coffee shops and high street food chains varies hugely. One study in Glasgow found that the caffeine content of coffee shop coffees varied from 51 mg to 322 mg in a single shot of coffee! This suggests it’s a good idea to avoid or limit coffees bought out of the home, unless you can be sure as to how much caffeine they contain.
Hydration during pregnancy is important…
It’s important to keep in mind that although caffeine recommendations during pregnancy are restricted, pregnant women may still need around 300 mls of extra fluid per day to ensure they stay fully hydrated. That’s around 1-2 glasses more than a non-pregnant female; taking the fluid recommendations for pregnant women to around 7-9 glasses a day.
For this reason, simply cutting back on tea or coffee might not be such a good idea, as it may leave women dehydrated at a time when hydration is essential. This means many women need to seek alternative fluid options to keep hydrated without having too much caffeine.
Luckily there are plenty of alternatives to standard black tea, green tea and coffee to help ensure you don’t exceed caffeine recommendations for pregnant women! I’ve included a list of options below. Remember, as with everything in nutrition, it’s all about moderation with anything you’re eating or drinking. I’ll also be writing a blog in a few weeks time about herbal tea during pregnancy.
Low or no caffeine drinks for pregnant women:
- Decaf tea
- Decaf coffee
- Herbal teas
- Red bush tea
- Fresh ginger tea
- Hot water with lemon and ginger
- Hot water with a slice of lemon
- Fizzy water with lemon or lime
- Mint tea
- Infused fruit waters (recipe ideas)
- Half fresh juice half water
- Coconut water
And a few to have more as a treat… (try to stick to no more than one glass because of higher, readily available sugar in these)
- Fresh juice
- Elderflower cordial
- Ginger Beer
- Homemade smoothies
For more information on what to eat during pregnancy see my blog post on Nutrition Recommendations for Pregnant Women. There is also a really useful Caffeine Calculator on Tommy’s website. And lastly, keep an eye out for my Herbal Tea during pregnancy blog post coming in the next few weeks.
Lastly, you can now view my youtube video on Caffeine intakes during pregnancy: