When you’re about to embark on the journey of baby making, you might try to get your body in the healthiest state possible. While some changes are fairly obvious and universally encouraged in the childbearing years—like quitting smoking, eating healthy and exercising regularly—others are a bit conflicting.
Take caffeine, for instance. A simple Google search brings up a multitude of info on everything from the many health benefits of coffee to how to limit your intake or cut it out entirely. As you enjoy your steaming cup of joe, you may wonder if your daily coffee habit is something you should nix before getting pregnant.
According to Jeffrey Roberts, an OB-GYN and co-director of the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Burnaby, BC, while it is known that excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to lower birth weight and reduced blood flow through the placenta during pregnancy, less is understood about the effects of caffeine on fertility. “Caffeine can stimulate the nervous system, open up airways and constrict blood vessels,” he says, but there’s no evidence that this affects your chances of getting pregnant.
Roberts cites one study of European women that found that women who drank more than five cups of coffee a day took longer to conceive. But he says it’s possible that other habits associated with drinking coffee may have actually caused the delay in conceiving.
Based on research done on caffeine consumption during pregnancy, healthcare practitioners and Health Canada advise that drinking one to two cups of coffee (300 milligrams of caffeine) a day is safe for women when they’re expecting or trying to conceive. Of course, coffee isn’t the only source of caffeine: Tea, soda and chocolate also count toward your daily intake, with some sodas coming in at 64 milligrams of caffeine per can and three squares of 60 percent dark chocolate containing 42 milligrams of caffeine.
As you begin trying to conceive, it’s worthwhile to take an inventory of your daily diet and make any changes necessary to ensure that you’re consuming a safe amount of caffeine. But some women start cutting out caffeine entirely in hopes of helping their fertility. Roberts says that, in an effort to do everything in their power to improve their chances, some IVF patients cut out caffeine altogether—often because they’ve heard stories of others who did so and got pregnant. But Roberts doesn’t advise this. Skipping your daily caffeine hit can bring on nagging headaches, which can pose unnecessary and additional stress to your fertility treatments, he explains.
“They’re up early for ultrasounds and tests and they have a headache to boot because they’ve stopped drinking coffee,” he says. “I tell them they have to keep drinking some coffee. It’s all about balance.”
Though moderate caffeine consumption is unlikely to hurt your chances of getting pregnant, stress can have a real impact on fertility. Since quitting coffee cold turkey can cause stress, it hardly seems worth cutting out your daily cup.
And dads-to-be can keep drinking their coffee, too: There is no evidence that caffeine affects sperm.
So, go ahead and take a satisfactory sip of your morning cup of coffee. A cup or two won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant.