It’s common knowledge that you should stop drinking coffee when you get pregnant since caffeine can affect your pregnancy. But did you know that the caffeine you consume prior to becoming pregnant can actually affect your ability to conceive – and keep – your baby? HBFIT has your guide and what you need to know about caffeine and pregnancy.
Trying to Conceive
While studies have been around for a long while that coffee should be avoiding during pregnancy, only recently have we learned that maybe before should be the best time to stop. Consuming caffeine can actually reduce your risks of becoming pregnant. One study showed that drinking more than one cup of coffee per day can reduce your chances of conception by half.
In 2011 researchers from the from the University of Nevada did a study on mice, fertility, and caffeine. What they found was that caffeine impedes the growth of specialized cells in the muscular walls of the fallopian tubes. This affected the ability to transport the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. While this study was only done on mice, a 2010 study found traces of caffeine in the follicular fluid that the eggs are surrounded by, suggesting that what might be true for mice, can be true for us.
Caffeine doesn’t just affect the fallopian tubes, but can even have an effect on the production of sperm, according to researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Their study found that if men drank more than two to three cups of coffee per day, their chances of conception was around 20%. However, when reduced to only one cup per day, the chances of reproduction increased to over 50%.
Carrying the Pregnancy to Term
Of course, that still means that caffeine can be harmful during pregnancy as well. If you want to carry your pregnancy to term, then reducing the amount of caffeine you consume can greatly affect those chances.
A study published in 2008 found that caffeine can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage. Consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine per day (or two cups of coffee) could raise the chance of miscarriage from 12.5%, for non-users, to 25.5%. This can even be true if you get pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Another study found that consuming as little as 50 mg of caffeine (or one cup of tea) were less likely to have a live birth.
But the amount of caffeine you consume prior to the pregnancy can affect those chances for miscarriage as well. One study suggested that if either parent drank two or more cups of coffee per day leading up to conception, there was nearly a 75% chance of a resulting miscarriage. Since caffeine consumed by either parent before the pregnancy was linked to these miscarriages, it does suggest that caffeine takes some effect on the health of your pregnancy.
How to Reduce Caffeine Risks
If you’re a regular coffee-drinker thinking about trying to get pregnant, what can you do to promote a healthy pregnancy? According to Dr. Zev Williams, the spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, going cold turkey isn’t the way to go. Cutting coffee out of your diet completely can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability. The medications you’ll need to take to manage those symptoms can be even more harmful than the caffeine.
Instead of trying to cut caffeine out completely, try to slowly reduce the amount of coffee you’re drinking while you’re trying to become pregnant. Bringing coffee down to one or two cups per day, keeping it below 100 mg of caffeine, can improve your chances of getting pregnant and carrying that pregnancy to term. Don’t forget that soda and chocolate also contain caffeine when making the decision to reach for that cup of coffee.
Germaine Buck Louis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, who led a study on caffeine and fertility has a suggestion. This same study also suggested that taking a multivitamin daily could decrease your chances of miscarriage by 50%. So if you’re trying to conceive, it might be time to trade in your morning coffee for your morning vitamin.