This week we look at what drinks you should be drinking, as well as what the science says about alcohol and caffeine.
Water – no big surprises, but water is top of the list as something you should be drinking a lot of! Staying hydrated is important for fertility and general good health. The NHS recommends 6 – 8 glasses of water a day.
Caffeine – Caffeine is found in tea and coffee, cola, other soft drinks and chocolate. The Nurses’ Study results indicate that having two or three cups of coffee a day has no effect on fertility. They also found the same for tea, women who said they drank tea at least twice a day were no more likely to have had problems with infertility than women who didn’t drink tea at all.
However, drinking a lot of caffeine in pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage and low birth weight so the advice is to limit your intake to 200mg a day (that’s equivalent to about two cups of instant coffee a day). Given you might not know you are pregnant for a few weeks, it is safest to limit your caffeine intake to 200mg a day. Don’t worry if you have in the past gone over the 200mg limit, the risks are quite small. If you do currently have 3-4 cups of coffee a day you could always switch a cup of coffee for a green tea or a mint tea instead. There is still a small amount of caffeine but a lot less than a cup of coffee.
Sugary fizzy drinks – The Nurses’ Health study found that women who drank two or more caffeinated soft drinks a day were 50% more likely to have experienced ovulatory infertility than women who drank these less than once a week. The authors assessed whether it was the caffeine in the drinks that was driving this affect, but when they statistically accounted for caffeine, the link between drinking fizzy drinks and fertility problems actually became stronger. This doesn’t tell us what is about fizzy drinks that affects fertility. The sugar and calorie content could be a contributor. The impact on blood sugar and weight can have an impact on fertility.
Alcohol – There is no known safe level of alcohol in pregnancy. We know that drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of: miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, learning difficulties and behavioural problems in later life for the baby.
Doctors are not sure about the effect of small amounts of alcohol, because the way the body handles alcohol is different for different people. However, we do know that alcohol crosses the placenta, so being alcohol-free is safest.
This is especially true during the first three months of pregnancy as this is when the baby’s brain is developing. Because you will not know you’re pregnant for the first few weeks, the safest thing to do is not drink any alcohol at all if you’re trying for a baby. This is what doctors advise.
Your change for the week
- Cut out sugary fizzy drinks and alcohol
- And cut your caffeine down to 200mg a day:
- A can of cola has around 40mg of caffeine
- A mug of tea has around 75mg
- A bar of plain chocolate has around 50mg
- A cup of instant coffee has around 100mg
- A mug of filter coffee has around 140mg
- Energy drinks: a 250ml can has around 80mg.