Can You Drink Hot Chocolate or Cocoa While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Chocolate and caffeine are both looked at with caution during pregnancy, so you might be wondering if hot chocolate and cocoa are safe. It’s a very popular pregnancy craving, too.

Hot chocolate and cocoa are safe during pregnancy. Be sure to double-check if ingredients like milk or cream are pasteurized, and watch your caffeine content.

We’ll guide you through everything you need to know about consuming hot chocolate during pregnancy and provide some delicious ideas for chocolatey drinks. 

Can Pregnant Women Drink Hot Chocolate? Is it Safe?

Generally, hot chocolate is safe during pregnancy, in moderation. 

Hot chocolate is delicious and comforting, so many pregnant women will not want to say no to this treat for nine months. As long as your cocoa does not contain any unsafe ingredients – like unpasteurized dairy – and you’re watching your caffeine content, there’s no reason you would need to avoid it during pregnancy.

hot chocolate in a white cup

Caffeine in Hot Chocolate or Cocoa – What to Look For

It’s advised that pregnant women limit their consumption of caffeine to 200 milligrams per day (source: APA) There is some caffeine in chocolate and hot chocolate. An 8fl oz cup of hot chocolate could contain only 4.8 grams of caffeine. For comparison, a cup of coffee of the same size averages around 94.8 mg of caffeine.

However, the caffeine content in cocoa and hot chocolate can vary drastically, depending on if it’s made from cocoa powder, pure chocolate, homemade, or from a cafe. 

For example, an 8oz hot chocolate from Starbucks will contain 15 mg of caffeine (source: Starbucks). Cafes like Starbucks may add flavors or syrups to your drink. These are often high in sugar but rarely contain any additional caffeine. 

But, homemade hot chocolate could contain 4.8 mg of caffeine (source: Nutrition Data). While hot chocolate made from cocoa powder may contain around 5 mg of caffeine (source: Nutrition Data).

So, when weighing up the caffeine in hot chocolate, you need to ask yourself how much caffeine you already had that day. If you had a cup of coffee or even two or a lot of tea, then you might want to save the hot chocolate and hot chocolate for another day.

You might also want to check out our ultimate guide to caffeine in chocolate, so you can figure out how much caffeine you might be consuming, especially if the hot chocolate or cocoa is homemade.

Cream, Milk and other Hot Chocolate Ingredient Safety

If you’re consuming dairy during pregnancy, it must be pasteurized in order for it to be safe.

Hot chocolate can be a concern because it’s typically made from milk. It will often include whipped cream, while the chocolate itself could be from milk chocolate. 

Generally, these should all be pasteurized, especially if bought from a store or ordered from a cafe or coffee shop. Raw milk and dairy products can contain harmful bacteria that pregnant women are especially susceptible to. The milk and cream you find in a grocery store or used in a cafe will more often than not, be pasteurized.

It is illegal to buy or sell raw milk across state lines (source: CDC). You might come across artisan raw milk or cheese, but it should be clearly labeled as such. This is more common at places like farmers’ markets, so always check first – but it’s very unlikely you’ll come across unpasteurized milk these days.

Fat, Calories and Sugar in Hot Cocoa

Your nutritional needs change throughout your pregnancy. This includes adding an extra 300 calories to your diet in the second trimester. The ideal breakdown of nutrients varies from person to person.

You should be aiming for 12 to 20 perfect of your calories to come from protein, 25 to 35 perfect of your calories from fats (ideally monosaturated fats) and the rest from carbs (UCSF Health).

Depending on your hot chocolate of choice, this drink could actually fit into these recommendations somewhat. An average 8 oz serving of hot chocolate has around 191 calories; 104 of which are from carbs, 52 are from fat, and 35 from protein (source: Nutrition Data).

If you’re diabetic or have gestational diabetes, you might be concerned about whether hot chocolate is off the table altogether. You can still enjoy hot chocolate, but you may have to opt for dark cocoa powder – which is less typically sweet than hot chocolate powder – instead.

It’s also a good idea to check with your medical provider on ways of enjoying this sweet treat if you already have diabetes.

It might also be best to skip toppings like marshmallows and cream. You can also sweeten your drink with sucralose. A small serving of hot chocolate should be okay, but you need to keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.

The main concern is that hot chocolate is often high in sugar, and lacks any substantial nutritional value. While you can enjoy cocoa as an occasional treat, but sure to eat a healthy balanced diet throughout your pregnancy. 

a cup of dark hot chocolate with marshmallow

Pregnancy-Friendly Hot Chocolate Ideas

Dark hot chocolate – You can make hot chocolate by adding some melted chocolate to hot milk, and stirring. Dark chocolate usually contains less sugar than milk chocolate, but compare the nutritional labels first. Alternatively, you can use dark cocoa powder instead of a hot chocolate mix for the same reason.

Skimmed milk – you can skim off some calories by making your hot chocolate with skimmed milk instead. 

Almond hot chocolate – if you like your hot chocolate to have some sort of flavor, you can skip the syrups for some plant-based milks. If you like a nutty taste, you can make hot chocolate with almond milk or hazelnut milk instead. Plant-based milk is often fairly low in calories, fats and sugar. 

I hope this cleared up any concerns you may have had about enjoying hot chocolate while you’re expecting, and helps you to assess what might be in your hot cocoa.