Coffee is a universally loved, but sometimes controversial, beverage. While many coffee lovers associate benefits with this drink, such as increased energy and focus, people also report a variety of negative effects, including jitters from a caffeine crash, headaches, or more serious consequences such as damage to a pregnancy.
If you are a coffee lover and plan to start a family or are already pregnant, you may wonder if you should reduce or completely pause your coffee intake. The conflicting information scattered across the internet can be thoroughly confusing.
To further cloud the matter, many official studies done over the years on the consumption of coffee during pregnancy have reached differing conclusions.
So what effects does a daily cup of coffee really have on your pregnancy, if it is even harmful at all?
The Effects of Coffee on Pregnancy
Harmful effects that coffee may have on pregnancy include low birth weight, increased risk of childhood leukemia, or miscarriage.
According to most studies, women who drink less than two or three cups of coffee per day do not experience any detrimental effects to their pregnancies. Those who drink over two to four cups of coffee per day are more prone to experiencing a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy or other complications, such as giving birth to a baby with a low weight.
Other factors may also contribute to a successful or unsuccessful pregnancy in mothers who drink coffee, regardless of how much of the beverage each individual consumes.
A 2018 study by Alan Leviton suggests that researchers, as well as study participants, may wrongfully blame coffee for pregnancy complications because of perception biases.
Morning sickness is a prominent trait of many healthy pregnancies. The more nausea a pregnant woman experiences, the more she will reduce or eliminate her consumption of the beverage.
While it is not always a sign that something is wrong, some women who experience unsuccessful or less healthy pregnancies feel little to no nausea. With the absence of an upset stomach, habitual coffee drinkers are not likely to reduce or eliminate their daily consumption of the drink. If the pregnancy ends with a miscarriage or the baby is born with health complications, study participants are more likely to blame surrounding factors such as the consumption of coffee whether or not these issues truly relate to drinking coffee.
To Drink Or Not to Drink?
Research on the effects of coffee and caffeine on pregnancies is still inconclusive.
Your safest options are to limit your coffee intake to two cups or fewer or to stop drinking it entirely until your baby is born. It is important to note that other foods and beverages such as tea, energy drinks, sodas, and some types of chocolate may also contain caffeine. If you have any doubts about what may or may not be healthy for your pregnancy, always consult your doctor or another experienced medical practitioner.