This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
Can You Drink Energy Drinks While Pregnant 2023? Is It Safe?
Can you drink energy drinks while pregnant? The evidence suggests that pregnant women may be advised to avoid their favorite energy drink while carrying a child. The truth may shock you—it’s enough to have many mothers tossing their energy drink of choice right out the window.
Can you drink Red Bull while pregnant? If so, how much? If not, what should you be drinking instead? Check out our guide to staying energized when pregnant, all without caffeine and other harmful chemicals that may put your baby at risk.
Is It Safe to Consume Energy Drinks While Pregnant?
As many as 70% of American women report continuing to consume caffeinated drinks during pregnancy. While your own daily caffeine intake may not seem like much to you, caffeinated beverages while pregnant may give rise to dire pregnancy complications.
Can energy drinks stunt a child’s growth in utero? While there is some controversy amongst the world’s experts, caffeine in pregnant women has been shown to be a major contributing factor to poor birth outcomes like low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage. Although no amount of caffeine during pregnancy has been deemed completely safe, the amount you drink increases the risk.
Some believe the link between daily caffeine consumption and pregnant women may be adenosine signaling dysfunction during gestation, a nucleoside that orchestrates the development of a healthy infant while in the womb.
Adenosine is one of the four components that contribute to the production of RNA, and even very small mistakes may take a growing child completely off course at the genetic level.
Caffeine has been shown to wreak havoc on this vital compound during pregnancy, which makes drinking energy drinks during pregnancy more than a risk, as far as we’re concerned.
Children of mothers who drink caffeine may be more susceptible to congenital heart disease and even serious heart conditions later on in life, including hypertension, to name some of the more troubling claims in this area.
Most energy drinks contain caffeine in excess, as well as other potentially harmful chemicals like taurine and other stimulants.
Some popular brands contain as much caffeine as two cans of conventional soda, anywhere from 80 mg to 150 mg per 12 ounces. Some are artificially sweetened in order to reduce the number of calories they contain. Others use inordinate amounts of sugar and artificial flavors to entice the drinker.
Moreover, pregnant women who consume caffeine may be at risk for spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). The mothers in this linked study were tested by way of phenotyping and genotyping.
Those who tested positive for the markers in question (genetically predisposed to spontaneous abortion) were much more likely to experience it associated with caffeine intake. If you fit these profiles (or if you’ve already experienced miscarriage), you may also be at the same risk.
Even pregnant mothers who don’t test positive for these markers may still be putting their child in danger of adverse effects, even from a simple cup of coffee.
Fetal growth restriction is another peril that expectant mothers are advised to avoid by eliminating even a small amount of caffeine daily. The pregnant women in this study were all fairly low-risk, demonstrating the profound way that caffeine affects a developing embryo.
Whether consuming energy drinks in a general sense is dangerous or not is debated; some believe they’re much worse than coffee or soda pop, while others believe that all people should avoid energy drinks completely. Certainly, when you compare the amount of caffeine in them, energy drinks stand out as villains.
One major risk of energy drinks is their caustic tendency to erode the enamel on your teeth, with regular use increasing dental erosion by as much as 2.4 times the usual risk.
Caffeine consumption in the form of a Monster or a Red Bull has been associated with a myriad of adverse cardiovascular outcomes—ventricular arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, arterial dilatation, aneurysm, and more, even in very young people. This underscores the fact that caffeine is a drug that probably wouldn’t get FDA approval.
An upset stomach, anxiety, sleep pattern disruptions, restlessness, and headaches are also commonly reported after ingesting large amounts of caffeine (or any amount in sensitive individuals). You may find yourself urinating more, dehydrating you just like drinking too much coffee can.
This is all to say little of the risks associated with too much sugar from your daily energy boost. Amount of caffeine aside, the standard energy drink may promote obesity in habitual users. Obesity and caffeine-related cardiac concerns may produce a perfect storm of heart disease.
Excess sugar may limit one’s insulin sensitivity (increasing risk of metabolic syndrome), a side effect that a high caffeine content might actually be able to make much worse—around 5.8% per mg of caffeine to kg of body weight.
Risks of Drinking Energy Drinks When Pregnant
There are many risks associated with energy drinks and poor pregnancy outcomes. Energy drinks induce labor in some women, putting unborn children in great danger of prematurity.
A few other risks many energy drinks bring to the table include
- Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)
- Preterm birth (premature newborns)
- Limited fetal growth
- High blood pressure
- Poor sleep quality
Even if you’re suffering from pregnancy fatigue, we urge you to abstain from caffeine while pregnant for all the reasons and birth defects cited above.
How Much Caffeine Can You Have While Pregnant?
We–and researchers–recommend no caffeine during pregnancy—avoiding caffeine entirely is the best way to prevent any of the adverse birth outcomes mentioned here from harming your child.
The World Health Organization has, however, conceded to a “safe” daily caffeine dose for pregnant women, below 200 mg of caffeine at the most. “Safe,” however, is a relative term, as no amount is officially (and completely) safe. Many energy drink brands may fall below this limit.
Due to their artificial nature and often unhealthy additives, however, the best energy drinks during pregnancy may very well be no energy drinks at all.
Can You Drink Sugar-Free Energy Drinks While Pregnant?
While a lack of sugar may be able to help a pregnant woman avoid issues like excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes, we cannot advise this alternative. Even sugar-free energy drinks contain too much caffeine to be considered safe for a pregnant woman. So, forget the sugar–the caffeine already dooms the drink as unacceptable.
Some artificial sweeteners, in general, have been approved for women who are pregnant—Splenda is one popular example. Still, during this delicate time, it always pays to go all-natural, even if only for the duration of your pregnancy.
Limiting your caloric and sugar content should be the least of your worries while pregnant. As long as you’re following the recommendations of your healthcare provider in terms of your ideal calorie intake, using sweeteners like agave, honey, and monk fruit extract won’t usually lead to excess weight gain.
Are Energy Drinks Safe While Breastfeeding?
Some will say that a breastfeeding mother can, indeed, drink an energy drink or cup of coffee in moderation. Caffeine will, in fact, reach your child through your breast milk, however—and it might impact them the same way it impacts a person drinking it firsthand.
Babies who are breastfed after their mothers drink caffeine may end up jittery, and their sleep may also suffer. This means your sleep will suffer, too.
Behavioral issues like fussiness and excessive crying have also been reported, which is why we recommend waiting until you’re done breastfeeding to drink coffee or other high doses of caffeine as you did before. Although, the high-dose warnings about heart disease for you still apply.
Healthy and Safe Energy Drinks for Pregnant Women
If you’re pregnant and your energy levels are low, it’s best to first consider whether you’re hungry or deficient in some sort of vitamin. Also, consider your sleep habits.
Before turning to caffeine or an energy drink, you should try a snack or meal full of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein, offering every single amino acid. If that doesn’t help, consult a healthcare professional about the dietary supplements you’ve been prescribed.
Some of our favorite ways to stay energized and hydrated without caffeine include the following healthy options for physical performance, cognitive performance, and productivity throughout your pregnancy days:
Smoothies are one extremely refreshing and nourishing way to limit caffeine while you’re pregnant.
Simply freeze your favorite produce the night before—blanched greens, bananas, tropical fruits like mangos, citrus, beets, and more all make great additions to a daily smoothie when you’re feeling parched and low.
For a strawberry smoothie, you might use both strawberries and bananas. Use soy milk, apple juice, or ordinary milk for a liquid component, and add sugar if you prefer a sweeter smoothie. Blend in a food processor, and enjoy a quick, cooling treat that everybody loves.
Fruit juices and vegetable juices
Fruit juices and vegetable juices are even more low-fuss, perfect for mothers-to-be who are still on a tight schedule.
We love pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, and green juices between meals. They’re sustaining while remaining light enough to prevent you from spoiling your appetite for a bigger meal later to come. By the way, cranberry juice can prevent urinary tract infections, common in pregnant women.
Sometimes, a simple water tonic might be just what you need to get you out of a lull during the day.
Refrigerate purified water and add mint, cucumber, lemon juice, fresh lime juice, or any other fresh flavor you love. Add a bit of ice and some honey, and you have one of the most invigorating beverages under the sun.
Staying well-nourished is one of the most important parts of being pregnant. After a couple of days without caffeine, you may find that you no longer crave your favorite energy drink. Try any of these home remedies and see how you feel. Your future child will thank you for choosing a healthier way of being.
The Bottom Line
Relying on caffeine to give you a boost during the day is extremely common—in fact, caffeine is the world’s most-used psychoactive substance.
Most of us are definitely addicted to caffeine to some extent. Experts recommend dialing things back even before conceiving. If you’re in the midst of planning a family with your partner, the best way forward is to try to limit your caffeine intake before even becoming pregnant in the first place.
Living caffeine-free might actually be the best thing you ever try—you’ll feel calmer, cooler, and more alert, even without your daily jolt. It might even save you a heart attack down the line. Why not give it a shot?
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