If you can’t start your day without your morning cup of joe, you’re not alone. But if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, you may have heard that drinking coffee is not recommended.
Studies have shown that caffeine may reduce the blood supply to the fetus and hinder growth. One study found that drinking 400mg of caffeine per day could double the risk of miscarriage. Since caffeine is present in a lot of things besides coffee — including tea and chocolate — you’ll need to reconsider your habits to ensure a safe caffeine intake.
Don’t let these statistics scare you off caffeine completely: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant people can consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day and still have a healthy pregnancy.
Even if you’re not currently pregnant or looking to conceive, you might be aiming to cut out caffeine for the sake of better sleep. Research shows caffeine can impact sleep by blocking your sleepiness signal, adenosine, as well as raising your resting heart rate. (Curious if caffeine is affecting your sleep? Oura members can tag “Caffeine” in the Oura App to track its influence on their sleep quality.)
Luckily, we have good news for all: There are plenty of low and no-caffeine alternatives you can use as a coffee substitute during pregnancy. This article will cover 10 of the most popular — plus some bonus energy-boosting tips.
1. Decaf Coffee
If you absolutely can’t give up drinking coffee, one of the most obvious solutions is to switch to decaf. However, be aware that decaffeinated coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine — just much less than regular coffee.
2. Tea & Herbal Tea
Alongside coffee, tea is one of the world’s most popular drinks, and its benefits are well-documented. Research shows that drinking tea can reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and even prevent disease.
However, if you’re pregnant, you’ll want to moderate your intake since all types of tea contain some caffeine. If you want to avoid caffeine entirely, it may be best to opt for herbal teas.
But before you dive into the herbal tea aisle of your local health food store, seek advice from your doctor, as some herbal teas are contraindicated during pregnancy.
For example, red raspberry leaf tea is generally considered safe during pregnancy — however, some research advises using it “with caution.”
Peppermint, ginger, and cranberry herbal teas have all been found safe to use during pregnancy.
Peppermint can help reduce gas, nausea, and heartburn, while ginger is known to aid with stomach issues and digestion.
Another great all-day option is rooibos tea: Research indicates that this caffeine-free tea contains more antioxidants than regular green or black tea. It also has fewer tannins, which can inhibit nutrient absorption.
3. Alternative Lattes
If you don’t like the idea of giving up your morning latte, chai and turmeric lattes are good alternatives during pregnancy.
Chai lattes usually come with or without black tea, so to minimize caffeine intake, it may be best to skip the tea for a caffeine-free — but flavorful — version.
Turmeric lattes — also known as golden milk — have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
However, it’s best to consume turmeric in moderation during pregnancy. Although research is lacking on the specific impact of turmeric on pregnancy, several studies have found that it affects the female reproductive system.
Drinking plenty of water is essential for everyone, but staying hydrated is even more crucial when pregnant. According to ACOG, pregnant people should aim to drink eight to twelve cups — or between 1.8 and 2.8 liters — of water every day.
Water helps with digestion, forming amniotic fluid, nutrient absorption, and waste elimination, and it can even help reduce fatigue.
This is because water is the primary component of blood and aids in transporting vital nutrients to your cells. In fact, fatigue is one of the first signs that the body is dehydrated.
If drinking plain water all day seems too boring, try adding flavors — such as berries, watermelon, mint, cucumber, or citrus fruits — to keep things interesting.
5. Matcha Tea
Matcha is made from the same plants that produce green and black tea, but it contains lower amounts of caffeine than both coffee and other types of tea because of how it’s processed.
Research indicates that matcha is safe to drink in moderate amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to its low caffeine content: one gram contains 35-50 grams of caffeine.
Additionally, matcha tea contains polyphenols, which may support optimal fetal development, according to research. It also contains chlorophyll (an antioxidant), theanine (which promotes relaxation), and catechins (that prevent cell damage).
6. Chicory Coffee
Roasted chicory root is from the dandelion family and has a coffee-like taste without the caffeine, making it a great coffee substitute.
The bonus with chicory is that it contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that supports gut health and may even contribute to reduced inflammation.
Research also shows it provides several essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to pay extra attention to your nutrition and ensure you and your baby are getting everything you need for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate more vegetables and fruits — such as dark leafy greens, nuts, avocados, bananas, and berries — into your diet is by drinking at least one smoothie every day.
Experiment with mixing your favorite superfoods together for a fast, easy-to-sip snack or meal.
8. Hot Cocoa
We’re not talking about your average hot chocolate, which is packed with sugar and contains very few nutrients.
Hot cocoa is made using raw cacao powder, which contains mood-boosting magnesium and antioxidants.
Cacao also helps stimulate the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin, which may help with mood swings during this time.
That said, it’s important to remember that cacao is still a stimulant and contains small amounts of caffeine — roughly 0.06-0.4% — so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation.
9. Alternative Coffee Blends
Recently, a crop of coffee alternatives with functional ingredients, such as adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms, have popped up on the market. One to try is MUD\WTR, a blend of adaptogens and organic ingredients that provide a natural energy boost with just a fraction of the caffeine that coffee has.
Before trying any coffee alternative, however, do talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Drinking kefir is considered safe during pregnancy if the kefir is pasteurized (unpasteurized milk products are not recommended during pregnancy).
Kefir contains protein, which your body breaks down to release energy and keep you going throughout the day.
Plus, kefir can help you have a healthy pregnancy. Research indicates that drinking kefir during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of preterm birth, while drinking it in the later stages of pregnancy can reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
Bonus Tips for a Natural Energy Boost
Many of us rely on our daily cup of coffee to get through the day, so it’s understandable that pregnant women would look for alternatives to coffee.
However, replacing your usual brew with one (or more) of the substitutes above isn’t the only way to boost your energy during pregnancy.
Here are four bonus tips that will help prevent you from crashing.
- Don’t skip meals. When you’re pregnant, you need to eat more to help your baby grow and support your body throughout the process. Focus on eating nutrient-dense meals throughout the day for optimal energy.
- Avoid sugary foods. We’ve all reached for a sugary pick-me-up during an afternoon slump. But after the high comes the low, and sugary foods will soon leave you even more hungry and tired than before. Plan ahead and pack snacks that support healthy blood sugar levels, such as whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.
- Get the rest you need. It might seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget that you will probably need more rest than usual during your pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body and get the rest you need when you feel tired.
- Get some exercise. During pregnancy, exercise can relieve anxiety and stress, improve mood, boost energy, and promote better sleep. This can be as simple as walking, but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Oura members can track their Readiness Score to determine what type of exercise is best for them on any given day.
Have a Healthy Pregnancy with these Coffee Alternatives
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be a little daunting — especially if it’s your first. Fortunately, cutting down your caffeine intake doesn’t have to be hard if you mix things up with the alternatives listed above.
Taking care of yourself is more important than ever during pregnancy, and Oura Ring members can monitor their data to make sure everything is going smoothly.
For example, pregnancy puts extra demands on your heart, so tracking your heart rate throughout your pregnancy can help you keep an eye on long-term trends and spot any anomalies.
Your body temperature also changes before, during, and after your pregnancy. Oura members can use their temperature data to track their pregnancy from ovulation all the way through to birth.
Additionally, Oura members can consult their Sleep Score to make sure they get extra rest when needed.
RELATED: Read the story of this Oura member who used her Oura Ring to take care of her body and her baby during pregnancy, or this member who used Oura Ring and Natural Cycles to help her conceive.