Cut the Caf?
2.25.08: A new study links caffeine and miscarriage
Caffeine. You want it. You crave it. And yet, cruelly, you can't have it. At least according to some: A new study just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology finds that pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day (the equivalent of a 10-ounce cup of coffee or 25 ounces of tea) may double their risk of miscarriage.
It's not good news for those of us who need a little jolt to jumpstart the day. As if it's not enough that you're tired, hormonal, and bloated—you may now need to cut out caffeine altogether. According to the New York Times, study author Dr. De-Kun Li recommends cutting out caffeine completely for the first three or four months of your pregnancy: "Stopping caffeine really doesn't have any downside."
Hello? No downside? As someone who quit caffeine cold-turkey for two pregnancies, I can attest to the downside of going without. As my friend Jill so eloquently put it, "I felt like I had a knife lodged in my skull."
The findings are still up for some debate. The Times also interviewed Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, who rationalized: "I think we tend to go overboard on saying expose your body to zero anything while pregnant. The human race wouldn't have succeeded if the early pregnancy was so vulnerable to a little bit of anything. We're more robust than that."
The March of Dimes, which updated its stance on caffeine in response to this study, concludes that until more is known, women should limit their caffeine intake during pregnancy.
So what's a pregnant woman to do? Stick with your doctor's advice. And take it from some other real moms out there:
"I'm happily drinking a large cup of black tea every morning just like I used to. Pregnancy is hard enough without caffeine withdrawal!"Â Zoe Singer, New York, New York, author of Mom Appetit
"I gave up drinking caffeine (or at least coffee) for a while during my pregnancy. Oh yeah—that was when I was pregnant with #1. I also ironed all the onesies before my first was born, but I had to quickly get real. Then I went to half-caf with my second and by the time I was pregnant with my third, I don't even think I tried to give it up."ÂKatie, Boston, Massachusetts
"I love(d) myÂ Starbucks Venti non-fat, double upside down two Equal carmel macchiatos. When I got pregnant, I knew I should give up caffeineÂ and figured I'd go thru withdrawal, coupled with tears and hair pulling. But for some reason, once I got pregnant, my taste for coffee wentÂ away, so it wasn't even an issue for me." Â Jenny, Los Angeles, California
If you're trying to cut back on the caffeine, try some of these tips from moms who've been there:
- If possible, start before you're pregnantÂthat way you won't feel deprived all at once.Â
- Find a non-caffeinated drink that you can enjoy just as much: an herbal tea; a fizzy lemon drink; seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice, etc. Pregnancy is a great time to experiment with different juices. Try adding a lemon, a lime or even a slice of orange to your drink to make it special (and extra tasty).
- Switch to decaf or even just hot water with a lemon;sometimes it's enough just to have the ritual of holding a steaming mug in the morning.
- If all else fails, try a half-hot milk/half-coffee in the morning—it'll at least give you a little extra calcium.
- Remember that there's caffeine in everything from chocolate to tea and root beer.
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Dana Rousmaniere is FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor. After downing her fourth Diet Coke of the day, she's seriously considering re-quitting caffeine.