A warm cup of coffee in the morning is as much a part of a daily routine for some of us as brushing our teeth. For more than half the population in the U.S., drinking coffee is a daily affair (source). Unlike smoking, which is clearly bad for fertility and pregnancy, drinking coffee isn't as clear cut. In other words, consuming coffee may impact fertility or it may not. If you are part of the half of the US that enjoys coffee and enjoy coffee simply for the warmth and routine, switching to a doctor approved caffeine- free tea probably won't bother you. If you enjoy coffee to help wake up and focus at work, however, giving up coffee may not be worth getting pregnant in the first place. Ok, that is extreme, but seriously, for the group of us women who depend on our coffee to be functional and happy, do we need to give up our favorite part of the morning? Here we explore what the big players in both food and pregnancy safety say about coffee/caffeine consumption when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
What the Research Says:
Several years ago, in 2008, a study released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who consume 200mg or more of caffeine daily are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those who do not consume any caffeine.
Yet, in another study published in the journal Epidemiology, no increased risk in women who drank a minimal amount of coffee daily (between 200-350 mg per day) was found (source).
The Concerns with Drinking Coffee:
While research shows conflicting results, several studies have shown concern for the following:
- Negative impact on pregnancy (Miscarriage, Premature Labor, Stillborn, Reduced Fetal Growth) (source)
- Decreased fertility in both men and women (source)
“Most reproductive experts recommend limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet to less than 200 to 300 milligrams a day — if you're trying to conceive.”- Mayo Clinic
To get to the bottom of the conflicting outcomes, two large population studies were performed and then summarized by the The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in 2010 (source). Unfortunately, once again the research wasn't able to clearly show whether caffeine has a direct negative impact on fertility and pregnancy or not. Based on the study results, ACOG concludes that moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg per day) does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.
Here are the recommendations by: Health Canada, World Health Organization, ACOG, March of Dimes and Europe Food Safety Authority (EFSA):
No more than 300 mg of caffeine per day - a little over two 8 oz (237 ml) cups of coffee
Recommends consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine (one 12-oz cup of coffee) a day during pregnancy is safe.
Hidden Caffeine: Watch out For Exceeding the Recommended Amount :
If you decide to go ahead and keep your daily cup of coffee, you may consider keeping a watchful eye on other products that may contain caffeine in order to stay in the safe zone. Here are examples of how much caffeine can be found in certain product. NOTE: Each of these categories below has a large range of caffeine depending on the amount consumed and the specific brand. The amounts below are simply examples - please check the amount for the specific brands you are consuming.
- One Soda: Caffeinated cola and other carbonated soft drinks (~22-91 mg)
- One 12oz Cup of Coffee: ( ~80 mg)
- One 8oz Cup of Decaf Coffee: (~5.6mg)
- One Cup of Caffeinated Tea: (~5-95 mg)
- Two Squares of Chocolate: (~40mg)
- Energy drinks: (~50-357 mg)
- Some Cold and Headache Medicines: (~65mg)
Check out specific brands for the exact amount here.
Once you are pregnant, the American Pregnancy Association does want women to know that caffeine crosses the placenta to the unborn baby. Controversy remains still today on whether consumption of coffee or caffeine has detrimental effects on the fetus (source).
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor on whether she or he recommends either abstaining or reducing coffee intake (source)
You may have heard that there is an 'ideal' weight for fertility. Learn more about this 'fertility weight zone' and whether or not it is safe to diet when trying to get pregnant.