Mom Matters

Is it safe to drink coffee while pregnant or breastfeeding? We asked the experts.

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Author Jackie Rosu
Medical Expert Jane van Dis, MD

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times, “Coffee is a no-no during pregnancy.” For many women, having coffee is more than just a morning (and afternoon) ritual. It’s a basic necessity. So the question is, is it safe to drink coffee while pregnant or nursing? Is decaf a better choice? And how much coffee can you have?

It may be a blessing in disguise for many pregnant women whose first trimester can send everyday food and beverage desires to opposite ends of the earth. In my case, the slightest smell of coffee made me so nauseous during those early weeks. I have heard so many women experience the same aversion. Once I made it to week 16, I started to feel a little better and found myself refilling my morning mug of French roast. 

The next question was then, is it safe? And was it safe to have while breastfeeding? Did I have to switch to decaf while nursing or was that off the list as well? Did this spill-over into other caffeine products-CHOCOLATE? (gulp!)

We sourced the truth from Bobbie Medical Advisors Jane Van Dis, board-certified OB GYN, and Jadah Parks Chatterjee, Nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant.

Expert recommendations on caffeine consumption during prenatal and postpartum periods

Dr. Jane: The American College of ObGyn (ACOG) recommends that women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant not consume more than 200mg of caffeine from all sources, including coffee, soft drinks, tea, chocolate, etc.

For reference, one 8oz cup of coffee contains approximately 96mg of caffeine, be sure to take a screenshot of their helpful caffeine content chart.

Does drinking coffee cause miscarriage? 

Dr. Jane: No, coffee does not cause miscarriage if consumed at the level recommended by the ACOG.

Does spacing coffee out or adding water dilute the caffeine in coffee?

(A desperate attempt to find a loophole for my ride-or-die coffee drinkers!)

Dr. Jane: The milligram limit is the same whether the coffee is diluted or not. Pregnant women can have as much decaf coffee as they like, though there are a few milligrams of caffeine in decaf coffee.

Is tea better than coffee during pregnancy?

Dr Jane: Black tea has about ½ the amount of caffeine as black coffee. Herbal tea (double-check the label first) often has minimal caffeine for those wanting something warm. Hot cocoa is also an option (chocolate has less caffeine than coffee, but still has some).

Can I have one coffee a day while breastfeeding? 

Jadah: The concerns with excess or over-exposure of caffeine to your baby are the disruption of their sleep. I recommend enjoying your cup of coffee, no more than 8 oz per day, following your morning feeding. This will give your body time to move the excess caffeine out of your system before your next feeding. If you enjoy your ‘cup of Joe’ before you feed the baby, this can interrupt your baby’s next nap, possibly upsetting their stomach, causing gas and fussiness.

How long after coffee can I breastfeed?

Jadah: You can enjoy your cup of joe with ease following feeding the baby.  If you’ve had your cup of joe already and your baby would like to eat, I would recommend using expressed milk if possible or waiting at least 1-2 hours after enjoying a cup of caffeine.  

Does caffeine affect breast milk supply?

Jadah: In my experience, I’ve often requested a cup of coffee for parents who normally have a cup of joe every morning, in an effort to enhance relaxation and ease back into their pre pregnancy flow.  There is no literature to support caffeine negatively affecting milk volume and production. 

Do I have to worry about caffeine outside of coffee, like chocolate or sodas, while breastfeeding?

Jadah: I always recommend enjoying these types of treats following feeding the baby instead of prior to feeding the baby. This gives it time before directly affecting the baby.

Is it safe to drink decaf coffee while breastfeeding? 

Jadah: There is still caffeine in decaffeinated coffee, however, much lower.  Decaffeinated coffee has 2-3% caffeine present compared to caffeinated coffee.  

Finally, what should you do if you decide to have (a lot) more coffee one day? 

Jadah: Feed your baby first, and then enjoy your coffee. 

How to reduce coffee cravings during pregnancy and nursing

The moral of the story is moderation when it comes to caffeine, which can be an annoying answer— I admit. From one mother to another, here are things I have tried in order to reduce my caffeine intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  • Get moving: Try to sneak in a 5-10 minute walk where you would typically have your coffee break. Getting exercise provides a host of benefits, as we all know, but also coupling the distraction with some fresh air might help you find a second wind and move past the craving. 
  • Sip some hot water with fresh-squeezed lemon. This soothing concoction feels comforting going down and provides a boost of vitamin C, which is excellent for the immune system. Be sure to consult your OBGYN or Lactation Specialist before starting a new regimen; lemon can serve as a diuretic and should also be consumed in moderation.  
  • Enlist some deep, meditative yoga breathing exercises. This can be a great way to handle stress and create calming sensations when followed regularly. 

Jadah: While coffee is not on this list, here are some foods that are ideal for nursing moms. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water (see below)!

  • Avocado
  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Lean beef

How much water should a breastfeeding mom drink per day?

Jadah: Half your body weight in ounces is a good goal to ensure you are properly hydrated. (We know, that’s a lot!)

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant’s pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.