ARGH. “women experience a unique, physical aversion to coffee during pregnancy”

I know I’ve mentioned caffeine consumption in pregnancy before, but there’s so much to talk about! A good friend of mine is a coffee addict. Every morning. Post meals. She loves it. When she was pregnant, though, the thought of coffee repulsed her. She couldn’t even smell it without getting sick.

I’ve been doing some inquiries about food aversions and cravings during pregnancy, all of which I will share with you. Let’s start with this one: coffee.

In an article I stumbled upon, almost all the women surveyed reported having some sort of nausea or vomiting, peaking between 5 to 8 weeks gestational age. Almost all the women in the study either decreased (59%) or completely quit (37%) drinking coffee during this time period too. Coffee was the third ranking trigger for their nausea. Strong odors and meat were first and second, and following coffee: spicy foods, dairy products, motion, stress, tobacco, poultry, fish, and fried or greasy foods. Less than a quarter of all women reported decreasing coffee intake because of “doctor’s advice”. The majority (65%) reported decreasing coffee because of an aversion to it. It repulsed them.

Caffeine consumption

As you can see from the graph, the mean daily consumption of caffeine – mostly coffee – decreased dramatically during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The authors concluded that “women experience a unique, physical aversion to coffee during pregnancy.” My friend would definitely agree!

Also, if you’re the investigative (aka nosy) type, you now have a potential first clue that a friend or co-worker is preggers: a sudden aversion to her once loved coffee. You’re welcome.



C.C. Lawson et al. Changes in caffeine consumption as a signal of pregnancy. / Reproductive Toxicology 18 (2004) 625–633

caffeine buzzzzzzzz

I love the mornings without commitments. No work, no meetings, no brunches. Just my pajamas, the couch, and a big cup of coffee. It just feels so good. Then the little buzz kicks in and off I go.

Who would want to give this up during pregnancy?

I can’t just talk about coffee, because the iced tea from Joan’s on Third is up on my list too. Let’s instead address caffeine intake as a whole.

Caffeine does cross the placenta, but it has been shown to not affect the blood flow to the uterus or affect the amount of oxygen getting to the baby. Yay! This is good news.

But can increased caffeine levels still affect the pregnancy? Is there a limit to the amount of caffeine that is safe in pregnancy?

I’ll divide this into 3 main areas that have been studied – can caffeine increase your risk for a miscarriage, preterm labor, or affect how the fetus is growing?

Can caffeine intake cause a miscarriage?
Two large studies have attempted to find an answer to this old wives’ tale. One study showed no correlation. The other study showed an increased chance of miscarriage if you consume >200mg per day. So my bottom line (I always try to give it to you straight):
Consume less than 200mg daily of caffeine to be safe. We just don’t know if more than that much each day can increase your chance for a miscarriage.

Can caffeine intake cause preterm labor?
No. The average daily intake of caffeine was 182mg in the largest study. So, once again, keep that intake to less than 200mg.

Can caffeine cause my baby to be smaller than normal (growth restricted)?
No clear evidence that caffeine increased this risk in the main studies, regardless of the amount.
Here’s a breakdown of some favorite brands (not my favorites, necessarily) of coffee and drinks and their amounts of caffeine.

Starbucks (not a fav, but a staple): grande drip (16oz) = 330mg;  tall drip (12oz) = 260mg; tall latte = 75mg
McDonald’s Iced Coffe (don’t laugh, it’s actually pretty good) – (16 oz) = 200mg

generically speaking (finding specific brand caffeine contents was difficult)

black tea (8oz) = 14-61mg
green tea (8oz) = 24-40mg

Red bull (to give you wiiiiiiings) – ( 8.46oz) = 80mg
5 hour energy (Erica, I added this one for you!) – (2oz) = 138mg – 207mg (different sources told me different things)
Diet coke (12 oz can) = 45 mg
Diet Dr. Pepper (12 oz) = 41 mg
Kombucha Tea (8oz) = 24 mg
Haagen Dazs Coffee Ice cream (8oz) = 58mg

If you are in the market for a new favorite coffee – these are some of the best (in my humble opinion 🙂 )

ACOG committe opinion Number 462: Moderate Caffeine consumption during pregnancy. August 2010
Caffeine amount info: Energyfiend website