Coffee Consumption While Pregnant- How Much Is Too Much!!!

We Indians, especially South Indians love our morning cup of coffee! In most instances having three or even four cups may be normal. But what if you are pregnant. What then?

Why is coffee considered harmful when pregnant?

This is mainly because of two components in the coffee i.e., caffeine and polyphenols which remain in the system and affect both the mother and child due to the fact that:

  • Caffeine, during pregnancy, takes longer to be broken down in the mother
  • The developing baby cannot digest the caffeine and polyphenols

So, what is the normal amount of coffee consumption when pregnant?

Well, a cup of coffee can do you no harm. So, if you are a coffee lover, you can relish in a cup every now and then when pregnant. But, the golden rule is to make you should not consume more than 200 mg of caffeine in one day. This is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

Types of coffee Portion Average caffeine amount (mg)
Instant coffee 8 ounces/ 1 cup (250 ml) 76
Filtered coffee 8 ounces/ 1 cup (250 ml) 179
Decaffeinated coffee 8 ounces/ 1 cup (250 ml) 3-15
Brewed coffee 8 ounces/ 1 cup (250 ml) 137

In simpler terms, it is about 1 1/2  to 2 mugs of instant coffee or 1 or 1 1/2 mug of filter coffee (depending on the packaging and company brand).

What are the side effects of too much coffee consumption?

Well, like anything in excess, consumption of too much of coffee can lead to certain side effects, these  include:

In the mother:

Heartburn: Caused due to the increased secretion of stomach acid. This is probably one of the first signs that you may notice.

Insomnia: Too much coffee may leave you restless and sleepless during the night.

Increased heart rate: As coffee is a stimulant, it increases the mother’s heart rate and can leave her jittery during the day.

Miscarriage: A research in 2008 found that women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine a day had double the risk of a miscarriage than those who took in no caffeine.

Anemia: Caffeine can impair iron absorption capacity from food to body and can cause anemia during pregnancy.


In the baby:

Stressed baby: As the developing baby is unable to effectively process caffeine, it can cause an increase in the baby’s levels of stress hormones.

Cardiovascular toxicity: Caffeine can also cause an increase in the heart rate or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

Low birth weight: Numerous studies suggest that pregnant women with high consumption of caffeine (greater than 300 mg) delivered lower weight babies than their counterparts (those who consumed less than 100-200 mg).

Retardation of growthBy adversely affecting the developing brain of the baby the developmental milestones of a baby may get impaired.

Stillbirth:  Doubled in women who have excess amounts of coffee (8 cups and more) each day, when compared to pregnant women who did not.

Carcinogenic: High amount of caffeine can at rare times lead to cancer.

So, to summarize, if you are pregnant or planning on conceiving, we suggest you enjoy your cup of coffee in moderation. We would also suggest you look into alternatives for your caffeine cravings when pregnant!

And above all,  it is understood that any alterations in your diet or any bodily discomfort should be talked about to your doctor/gynecologist. So, speaking well in advance and planning your diet incorporating coffee as per your dietitian and doctor/gynecologist is advisable. This will benefit both you and your baby.






Dr. Aishwarya Rajeev has completed her MDS degree and is currently pursuing her PhD. She is an avid reader and loves to teach and write!

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