To Drink Or Not To Drink?

Nearly all health professionals agree that caffeine and alcohol need to be eliminated while you’re pregnant. But what about before pregnancy? Do these two common beverages affect your ability to conceive?

Should you drink coffee during your pregnancy?

There is a lot of information and research regarding caffeine and alcohol’s potential effects on fertility. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one specific conclusion on whether it’s advisable to completely eliminate or have these beverages in small quantities. This uncertainty stems from the fact that you may become pregnant and, unknowingly, still consume alcohol or caffeine before having a positive pregnancy test.

Studies consistently show that even little amounts early on can still be harmful to your growing baby.

Decaf or Regular? Caffeine’s Role in Fertility

Larger quantities of caffeine (defined as anything over 300 mg daily) have proved to have a negative effect on fertility for both men and women. However, at this time, it’s unknown exactly how caffeine disrupts the reproductive process. Studies show that women consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine daily were 27% less like to conceive. One, 8 oz cup of coffee generally has around 100 mg of caffeine. Keep your total intake of caffeine to 3 cups of coffee or less a day.

If you’re a caffeine fanatic, you may worry about how to cut down on your beloved morning cup of joe. But think about the importance of making your body a healthy place to grow a baby. If that means giving up a little coffee or tea, that’s probably a good choice. You also want to make changes to your diet and lifestyle now so that you’re into a routine of these healthy habits once you get pregnant. Caffeine is something that is recommended to eliminate once you are pregnant. So gently ease off of it if you need to.

Tip: Try switching to decaf or half-caf as you slowly wean off. You’ll still get the flavor but not all the stimulating caffeine.

Reducing Alcohol to Enhance Fertility

It’s fairly common knowledge that you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol while you’re pregnant. But what about before? Alcohol consumption may affect a women’s estrogen and testosterone levels disrupting their menstrual cycle. Consuming 5 drinks or less per week was related to a 39% lower chance of conception while consuming 10 drinks or more per week was related to a 66% reduction(1).

What counts as 1 serving or 1 drink?

  • 12 oz beer

  • 8-9 oz malt liquor

  • 1.5 oz distilled spirits (like vodka or rum)

  • 5 oz of wine

Those first few early weeks (usually the first 4-6 weeks) of pregnancy are an essential time of growth for your new baby. You may be unaware that you’re even pregnant at that time. There are no known safe amounts of alcohol use during pregnancy. Studies consistently show that even little amounts early on can still be harmful to your growing baby. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Cut down on your overall alcohol consumption – especially drinking larger quantities in a short time period. If you’re actively trying to conceive, its best to cut out the alcohol completely.

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1. Hatch EE, Bracken MB. Association of delayed conception with caffeine consumption. AM J epidemiol. 1993; 138:1082-92.

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