Can Coffee Make You Nauseous When Pregnant?

Coffee is a beloved drink for many people, but after getting pregnant, many women wonder if their usual coffee routine is still safe or if it could make them feel nauseous. Though opinions vary, the research shows that coffee in moderation is unlikely to worsen pregnancy-related nausea for most women. However, some changes in coffee habits may be beneficial.

Key Takeaways:

  • Caffeine is the main ingredient in coffee that could potentially worsen nausea. Consuming under 200mg daily appears safe for most.
  • Some women are more sensitive to nausea from coffee. Slowly cutting back on intake can help minimize discomfort.
  • Staying hydrated, eating before having coffee, choosing blends with less acidity, and avoiding drinking coffee on an empty stomach can help prevent nausea.
  • If coffee triggers reflux, heartburn or severe nausea, discontinue use during pregnancy. Decaf is an option.

Can the Caffeine in Coffee Make You Feel Sick When Pregnant?

The main compound in coffee that could potentially make you feel nauseous during pregnancy is caffeine. Many pregnant women do find that coffee smells or tastes unappealing, especially in the first trimester. However, there’s no clear evidence that caffeine necessarily worsens nausea overall for most women.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can speed up digestion and gastric emptying. For some women, this effect could theoretically exacerbate an upset stomach. However, studies have found that consuming under 200mg of caffeine per day does not appear to increase nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. This equals 16-24 oz of brewed coffee depending on the blend.

Moderate caffeine intake under 200mg per day is generally considered safe during pregnancy by health organizations. Consuming up to this amount from coffee is unlikely to make nausea notably worse for most women.

That said, every pregnancy is unique. Some women may be more sensitive to coffee’s effects and more likely to get an upset stomach from caffeine. Slowly cutting back on coffee intake after getting pregnant can help minimize any discomfort.

Tips to Prevent Coffee from Making You Nauseous

While coffee itself may not directly worsen nausea for most, there are tips pregnant women can follow to get the most enjoyment out of coffee without an unsettled stomach:

Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of water before and after coffee can prevent dehydration and nausea. Coffee acts as a mild diuretic, so pairing it with water is ideal.

Eat something – Consuming coffee right after eating or with a small snack can buffer its effects on an empty stomach. Protein and complex carbs are particularly good options.

Choose low-acidity coffee – Dark roasts, cold brew styles, and Swiss water processed coffee tend to be less acidic and easier on sensitive stomachs.

Avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach – An empty stomach is more prone to irritation from coffee. Having a light breakfast first helps reduce nausea.

Limit added dairy and sweeteners – Added cream, milk, and sugar may worsen reflux and nausea symptoms. Black coffee or small amounts of plant-based milk or sweeteners are gentler alternatives.

Slowly reduce intake – Quitting coffee cold turkey can lead to withdrawal and make nausea feel more severe. Slowly tapering consumption allows the body to adapt.

Switch to half-caff or decaf – This reduces caffeine exposure while still allowing coffee’s comforting ritual. Decaf has 2-15mg per cup.

Wait 30-60 minutes after drinking before laying down – Prone positions can exacerbate reflux after drinking coffee. Remaining upright helps prevent this.

Following these tips can help minimize the chances that ordinary coffee intake will significantly worsen nausea during pregnancy. However, if coffee continues to make nausea unbearable, stopping coffee may be best.

When to Stop Drinking Coffee While Pregnant Due to Nausea

For most women, moderate coffee intake is unlikely to exacerbate nausea and vomiting to a severe degree. However, some may experience intensified vomiting, heartburn, or reflux after drinking coffee that indicates a need to abstain:

  • Coffee triggers severe nausea or vomiting – If coffee routinely leads to severe vomiting episodes, avoid it.
  • Coffee causes abdominal pain or diarrhea – These can signal caffeine sensitivity; discontinue use.
  • Coffee worsens reflux and heartburn – Caffeine can relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents to back up. Quit coffee if this occurs regularly.
  • Coffee creates a strong aversion – Some pregnant women develop an aversion to coffee’s taste and smell. There’s no need to force coffee consumption if this extreme disgust develops.
  • Coffee makes anxiety or insomnia worse – Caffeine’s stimulating effects can aggravate these conditions that often accompany pregnancy, indirectly worsening nausea.
  • Medical conditions are present – GI conditions like gastritis or GERD can be exacerbated by coffee. Doctors may advise avoiding coffee if these are present.

If quitting coffee makes nausea and related symptoms disappear or improve significantly, this indicates coffee was provoking discomfort. Sticking to decaf or non-caffeinated beverages is wise in these cases.

Decaf Coffee as an Alternative to Minimize Nausea

For those who develop severe nausea after drinking regular coffee during pregnancy, decaf coffee can be a good compromise. This allows enjoyment of coffee’s taste and ritual without problematic caffeine.

Decaf coffee has had at least 97% of its caffeine removed. Most decaf brands contain 2-15mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup compared to 95-200mg in regular coffee. This very low amount of caffeine is unlikely to provoke nausea.

Decaf coffee is considered safe during pregnancy as long as intake stays under 200mg daily. Moderately consuming decaf coffee during pregnancy has not been associated with increased risks of miscarriage, preterm birth, or low infant birth weight in research studies.

Some decaf coffee brands use chemical solvents during processing that may introduce trace contaminants. If this is a concern, Swiss water process decaf avoids chemicals. Homemade cold brew methods can also produce low-caffeine coffee.

For those who develop an aversion to all coffee during pregnancy, herbal teas, fruit juices, smoothies, or sparkling waters may be more appealing non-caffeinated beverage alternatives when nausea strikes.

The Bottom Line – Can Coffee Make You Nauseous When Pregnant?

For most women, consuming a moderate intake of coffee while pregnant is unlikely to substantially worsen nausea and vomiting. While a few may be more sensitive, common tips like staying hydrated, eating before drinking coffee, and choosing low-acid styles can prevent stomach upset.

However, if drinking coffee routinely creates severe nausea, vomiting, reflux, diarrhea, or aversion, quitting coffee during pregnancy is wise. Decaf provides the comfort of coffee’s ritual without the caffeine that typically provokes stomach distress. Being attentive to how the body responds to coffee during pregnancy and making suitable adjustments to enjoy coffee comfortably can help navigate these unique months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee and Nausea During Pregnancy

Many pregnant women have additional questions about the relationship between drinking coffee and nausea symptoms. Here are comprehensive, research-backed answers to some often asked questions.

Does decaf coffee help with nausea when pregnant?

Decaf coffee is unlikely to worsen nausea compared to regular coffee during pregnancy. This is because decaf contains very little caffeine, which is the primary compound in coffee that can aggravate nausea symptoms.

In fact, some women find sipping on decaf helpful for easing nausea. Its warmth and familiar ritual can be soothing. A 2007 study found pregnant women entering the hospital due to severe nausea and vomiting were able to tolerate and benefit from consuming decaf coffee.

So for most women, decaf is a suitable alternative to aid with nausea relief without the unwanted stimulant effects of regular coffee. However, those with reflux or coffee aversion should avoid all coffee when nauseous.

Is tea or coffee better for nausea when pregnant?

Both tea and coffee can potentially help relieve nausea due to their comforting warmth and familiar rituals. However, herbal and ginger teas may be marginally better choices during pregnancy because they provide these benefits without caffeine.

One large 2021 study found pregnant women who consumed herbal teas regularly, especially ginger and chamomile, had significantly lower rates of nausea and vomiting. The caffeine in coffee could exacerbate nausea in those particularly sensitive.

That said, moderate coffee intake is safe for most. Having a gentle caffeinated beverage when nauseous is better than none at all. Listen to your body’s response and avoid coffee if it consistently worsens discomfort.

Why am I nauseous after drinking coffee pregnant?

For some pregnant women, consuming coffee can make nausea worse rather than better. There are a few reasons why this may occur:

  • The caffeine stimulates gastric emptying and faster digestion which can irritate the stomach.
  • Coffee’s acidity may provoke reflux, heartburn, or upset stomach.
  • Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause more irritation.
  • For some, coffee triggers vomiting reflexes during pregnancy.
  • Coffee’s strong aroma or taste may create aversions, worsen nausea.
  • Withdrawing from regular caffeine intake could exacerbate nausea initially.

If coffee seems to reliably make nausea worse, avoiding it or switching to decaf is wise. Use other comforting drinks like herbal tea, broths, or juices to ease sickness.

What week of pregnancy does nausea start?

Nausea typically starts between weeks 4-8 of pregnancy, peaks around week 9, and improves by weeks 12-14. However, some women experience nausea and vomiting throughout the entire pregnancy.

Morning sickness is caused by rising hormone levels like estrogen and hCG. It tends to be worst when these surge between 6-12 weeks but eases up as hormones plateau later on. Stress, fatigue, odors, and meal timing can also impact nausea.

Keeping snacks like crackers on hand, staying hydrated, eating frequent small meals, and avoiding triggers like strong smells can help minimize nausea symptoms whenever they occur during pregnancy.

How can I stop feeling nauseous while pregnant?

To help relieve pesky nausea during pregnancy try:

  • Eating frequent small meals and snacks of bland carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Staying hydrated with cool, clear fluids like water, fruit juice, or electrolyte drinks.
  • Getting plenty of rest and avoiding fatigue.
  • Using Sea-Bands or acupressure on P6 point to reduce sickness.
  • Avoiding nausea triggers like certain smells, spicy foods, multivitamins on an empty stomach.
  • Taking vitamin B6 and doxylamine (Unisom) supplements per doctor’s approval.
  • Consuming occasional bland, caffeinated beverages for comfort.
  • Discussing prescription anti-nausea medication with your OB-GYN if sickness is severe.

Making smart dietary and lifestyle changes tailored to what helps you most can significantly minimize nausea and vomiting episodes. This helps ensure good nutrition for mom and baby.


While coffee does not directly cause or worsen nausea for most pregnant women, some adjustments in coffee habits may help expecting mothers better tolerate it. Sticking to moderate caffeine intake under 200mg daily, staying hydrated, choosing low acidity brews, adding food, and avoiding drinking coffee on an empty stomach are tips to prevent discomfort.

For those where coffee triggers severe nausea or vomiting, quitting coffee as needed and opting for decaf or herbal teas is the smartest course. Though challenging, nausea during pregnancy can be managed by identifying and avoiding triggers while employing natural relief strategies.

With some care taken to accommodate sensitivities, most women can continue enjoying coffee in moderation without exacerbated nausea.