Can I Drink Iced or Cold Coffee When Pregnant? Safety Info

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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If you’re craving an iced coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, you might wonder if it’s safe to drink during pregnancy. What does the latest research say?

Iced coffee is safe to drink provided you limit your daily caffeine intake and be cautious with the use of sugar and dairy. The daily limit of caffeine for pregnant women is 200 mg.

In this article, we’ll go into detail about the caffeine content of iced coffee, compare some popular brands, and discuss other common ingredients. Read on! 

Is It Safe to Drink Cold or Iced Coffee During Pregnancy?

Iced coffee is safe during pregnancy, as long as you limit your intake and don’t go overboard with sugar or dairy.

Iced coffee is made with brewed coffee added to a glass of ice. You might also add sugar, dairy, and other additives like chocolate syrup or vanilla.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the caffeine limit for pregnant women is 200 mg per day (source: APA). However, a recent study suggests lower caffeine intake can also have negative effects.

Pregnant women who consumed less than 200 milligrams of caffeine each day (around two cups of coffee) had babies with decreased size and body mass, which has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes later in life. 

iced coffee in a glass

Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the uterus and placenta, restricting blood supply and growth. It can also interrupt the release of fetal stress hormones.

The researchers recommend consulting a physician when you are pregnant and want to consume caffeine (source: National Institute of Health News Releases). Based on this research, we recommend making iced coffee an occasional treat, not a daily habit.

Moreover, make sure you limit the amount of sugar you add to your iced coffee. Apart from its link to diabetes, consuming high amounts of sugar while pregnant may increase the baby’s chances of developing asthma and allergies later in life (source: European Respiratory Journal). 

Finally, always use pasteurized milk, whether it is dairy or plant-based (almond, coconut, oat, or soy). Unpasteurized milk can contain listeria, salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter bacteria, all of which can cause food poisoning (source: FDA).

Flavorings such as chocolate syrup or vanilla are generally safe, as well as ice.

Iced Coffee From Restaurants When Pregnant

Here are some popular commercial iced coffees with their corresponding caffeine content:

Coffee BrandCaffeine Content (mg) per 16-oz servingCalories 
McCafe Iced Coffee133 mg180 (11.5-oz serving)
McCafe Iced Latte142 mg190 (16-oz serving)
McCafe Iced Mocha167 mg380 (16-oz serving)
Starbucks Iced Coffee165 mg15 (16-oz serving)
Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee198 mg20 (24-oz serving)
Peet’s Coffee150 mg0 (16-oz serving)
Caribou Coffee Cooler155 mg5 (16-oz serving)
Seattle’s Best Iced Brewed Coffee35 mg10 (12-oz serving)
Tim Horton’s 120 mg5 (20-oz serving)
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf200 mg5 (16-oz serving)

(source: Caffeine Informer, Google).

Among the list above, Seattle’s Best would be the safest because it has the lowest caffeine content with a fair number of calories. If you’re concerned about the caffeine content of an unlisted brand, you can get the smallest size to be on the safe side.

cold coffee with straw in a restaurant

Store-bought Iced or Cold Brew Coffees During Pregnancy

For cold brew coffees, the same advice as above applies. Here are some popular commercial cold brew coffees with their corresponding caffeine content:

Coffee BrandCaffeine Content (mg) per 16-oz serving
Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee205 mg
Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee w/milk150 mg
Starbucks Bottled Cold Brew180 mg (11 oz)
Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew Coffee280 mg
Starbucks Canned Nitro Cold Brew235 mg (11 oz)
Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew174 mg
Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee (bottled)180 mg (8 oz)
Wide Awake Coffee Cold Brew (bottled)120 mg (11 oz)
Stok Cold Brew (bottled)145 mg (13.7 oz)
Natural Bliss Cold Brew (bottled)70 mg (8 oz)
Steep 18 Cold Brew (bottled)90 mg (8 oz)
Bizzy Cold Brew (bottled)125 mg (2.67 oz)
Caribou Canned Cold Brew (bottled)177 mg (11.5 oz)

(source: Caffeine Informer, Google).

Can I Have Decaf Iced Coffee When Pregnant? 

Based on the figures above, decaffeinated iced coffee should be safe, provided it has low amounts of caffeine. 

Growing babies are sensitive to caffeine, which can reach the baby through the placenta. According to a study, when it comes to the risks of drinking coffee, decaffeinated options are better (source: Medicinal & Aromatic Plants).

However, decaf coffees are not totally free from caffeine, so you still have to be cautious about how much you drink. 

In a study, ten decaffeinated coffees from several coffee shops and two decaf variants from Starbucks (Starbucks® espresso decaffeinated and Starbucks® brewed decaffeinated coffee) were collected and tested for caffeine content. 

All but one of the products contained caffeine, ranging from 3.2 to 13.9 mg per 16-oz serving. Starbucks® decaf espresso contained 3.0 to 15.8 mg of caffeine per shot, while Starbucks® brewed decaffeinated coffee had 12.0 to 13.4 mg per 16-oz serving.

decaf iced coffee in a mason jar and biscuits on table

Here are some decaf coffee brands and their corresponding caffeine content:

Coffee Type and BrandCaffeine Content (mg)
BrewedPer 16-oz serving
The Big Bean 10.1
Starbucks8.6
Royal Farms 8.6
Dunkin’ Donuts10.1
Hampden Cafe10.6
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts13.9
Gainesville Doughnut10.1
McDonald’s11.5
Instant
Krystal Folgers InstantNone detected
EspressoPer shot
Starbucks3.2–15.8

(source: Journal of Analytical Toxicology).

A caffeine intake of 125 mg per day can increase anxiety symptoms (source: Journal of Analytical Toxicology). According to the FDA, decaffeinated coffee generally has 2 to 15 mg of caffeine per 8-oz cup. 

That means several servings can add up to one caffeinated cup of coffee (source: Journal of Analytical Toxicology). So if you don’t react well to caffeine, you might want to steer clear of decaf iced coffees. (source: FDA).

If you prepare your own decaf iced coffee at home, you can make it with the decaffeinated coffee of your choice, or use half caffeinated and half decaf to ensure that you get smaller accounts of caffeine.

With these things in mind, iced coffee is safe to enjoy during pregnancy. We hope this article helps you make an informed choice.