Caffeine: Pregnancy & Fertility

Does caffeine harm your pregnancy?

Beautiful pregnant woman having coffee while at the kitchen
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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.

Studies are Conflicting on Caffeine in Pregnancy

Here is the problem when it comes to talking about caffeine. 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 per day.

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.

Does caffeine cause birth defects?

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.

It is important to do more research. 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.

What's a pregnant woman to do with caffeine?

So, your best bet is to try and cut down or eliminate caffeine use entirely while trying to conceive or during pregnancy. This will help you feel better with fewer side effects from interactions of the caffeine with your pregnancy symptoms, at the very least.

If you decide to stop using products that contain caffeine, 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. It may also be easier to try to eliminate main or major sources of caffeine. There are hidden amounts of caffeine in many places from chocolate to even some beauty products.

As always, talk to your doctor or midwife for their take on it and for advice on how to cope with whichever decision you have made.

Moderation is the key.


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.

Jahanfar S, Jaafar SH. Effects of restricted caffeine intake by mother on fetal, neonatal and pregnancy outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jun 9;6:CD006965. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006965.pub4.

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.

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