You Might Want To Be Extra Careful About Nitro Cold Brew During Pregnancy

by Cat Bowen

I am a coffee fanatic. If I don't have my morning coffee, the world collapses, time starts running backwards, and the zombies win. I'm simply not designed to live an uncaffeinated life. Needless to say, pregnancy was not easy for me. Suddenly, I had to be cognizant of how much caffeine I was taking in. Too much was bad for the baby and too little was bad for everyone else. Nowadays, there are so many more choices for your daily cuppa — like coffee on tap — and you may wonder, can you drink nitro cold brew when you're pregnant? Or is it just a hyper-chilled caffeine bomb?

Nitro cold brew is robust not only in its flavor profile, but also in its caffeine content. A regular, grande-sized Nitro at Starbucks is 16 fluid ounces, and contains a whopping 280 milligrams of caffeine, per the Starbucks website — or about the same amount of caffeine as a couple of cups of their hot coffee. By comparison, their cold brewed iced coffee has 205 milligrams of caffeine per 16 fluid ounces, and their traditional iced coffee has just 165 milligrams for the same amount. All of these are delicious, but unfortunately only one of these would be considered safe by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), which wrote that women should not drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day while they're pregnant.

When it comes to caffeine and pregnancy, even the ACOG has admitted that there is still a lot to be learned. As Boston University reported, multiple, longitudinal studies within the past decade have shown seriously conflicting results when it comes to what is safe and what isn't. It then becomes a matter of weighing the averages and taking stock of risk versus reward for the legislating bodies in medicine like the ACOG. They determined that when it comes to caffeine, it's really best to err on the side of caution with your consumption: While moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 milligrams per day) "does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth," the relationship between caffeine and growth restriction has yet to be determined. And so, "a final conclusion cannot be made at this time as to whether there is a correlation between high caffeine intake and miscarriage," the ACOG states. (Which is why they're still recommending that women stay below that 200 milligram threshold.)

But can you drink nitro cold brew when you're pregnant if you mix it with milk? It depends how much milk you're adding. If there are 280 milligrams of caffeine per 16 ounces in (Starbucks) standard size grande nitro cold brew, that means theres are 17.5 milligrams per ounce of coffee. If you ordered the grande size of 16 ounces, at least five of those would have to be milk for it to fall under the 200 milligrams of caffeine considered safe. Or, you could just get a tall and use an ounce or two of milk — even if grande is standard.

But seriously, with how much you have to pee when you're pregnant, 12 ounces of anything at one time is just about perfect.

I'll admit, I probably wasn't the best steward of motherhood when it came to caffeine while I was pregnant. I stuck to one cup of coffee, but didn't even consider my iced tea or chocolate milk consumption. In the winter, I definitely had my fair share of hot tea as well — and I feel guilty about that. Recently, there was a study published that suggested that drinking caffeine while you're pregnant doesn't only potentially increase your risk of miscarriage, it might have a link to childhood obesity, too. This study, published in BMJ Open found that in utero exposure to caffeine was "associated with higher risk of being overweight at aged 3 years and 5 years... Any caffeine intake was associated with increased body mass index from infancy to childhood."

Yes, take this study with a grain of salt. It wasn't adjusted for many exterior influences, and it works on the premises of correlation, not causation. However, because it was a large (over 900 children) and longitudinal (watched over a period of years) study, it has some heft to it. If nothing else, it gives you another reason to keep the coffee chugging to a minimum, and if you're really craving iced goodness, go for a decaf americano. Try it with pumpkin spice if you're feeling fallish.