In this day and age we are very concerned with our health. This often begins or peaks during periods of fertility awareness or pregnancy. We frequently make changes to what we eat, what we drink and how we live our lives.
Attention is often placed on caffeine during these periods. Caffeine is a stimulant. It is frequently found in our drinks, mostly associated with coffee, tea and soft drinks. Caffeine is also found in foods, like chocolate, etc.
There have been several studies that present conflicting information about caffeine use during pregnancy, impairing fertility and causing birth defects. So, the question becomes, which study do you believe?
A study in 2007 showed that in the second half of pregnancy, a moderate intake of caffeine (3 cups of coffee or less) had no effects on pregnancy. This research measured premature births as well as birth weights. Previously, these same researchers, found that there was an increase in stillbirths with high caffeine consumption, around 8 cups of coffee.
Most practitioners will tell you to err on the side of caution and avoid caffeine or cut back on your caffeine intake. They agree that while trying to achieve a pregnancy, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding you should try to limit caffeine consumption to about 300 mg per day. However, there are very few people who can tell you how much caffeine that is, partially because of hidden sources of caffeine.
While caffeine may not be as horrible as once suspected, causing miscarriages, birth defects and infertility, the truth is that we really do not know everything that it does. We do, however, know that caffeine can worsen pregnancy symptoms, like nausea, sleeplessness, and irritability. And in breastfeeding moms, caffeine is passed through the breast milk.
So, your best bet is to try and eliminate caffeine use entirely while trying to conceive or during pregnancy. It is not recommended that you quit cold turkey, but rather that you slowly cut down. Abruptly cutting caffeine out can lead to headaches and other negative feelings.
Bodil Hammer Bech, Carsten Obel, Tine Brink Henriksen, and Jørn Olsen Effect of reducing caffeine intake on birth weight and length of gestation: randomised controlled trial BMJ, Jan 2007.
Kirsten Wisborg, Ulrik Kesmodel, Bodil Hammer Bech, Morten Hedegaard, and Tine Brink Henriksen Maternal consumption of coffee during pregnancy and stillbirth and infant death in first year of life: prospective study BMJ, Feb 2003; 326: 420.