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Is coffee ok for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

"Is coffee ok for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding?"

I get asked this questions all the time. The short answer is yes, but your should be taking into account the following considerations to determine if it is right for you.

Quality -

Coffee is a bean. It is completely natural and contains a variety of chemical constituents the exert effects on the body in a medicinal manner.

Like anything, quality is important. Beans can be heavily sprayed and so you may want to choose an organically grown bean. Coffee beans also have a tendency to get mouldy in storage and so buying from a reliable source. freshly roasted and storing in your fridge is optimal.

Quantity -

The other consideration is "everything in moderation". Like anything "healthy" or not, we can have too much of a good thing, and this is where the concerns during this sensitive period of female physiology come in. Studies have found that more than 3 coffees a day in pregnancy may results in low birth weights, I personally think even this is too much generally! I advise sticking to one cup daily, and swapping to half shot coffees is you feel you need two.

Stimulation -

Coffee inhibits adenosine in the brain which accounts for it's stimulatory effects. It makes us more alert and switches us in sympathetic nervous system dominance (fight or flight). Some of us are much more sensitive than others which also has to do with our differing genetics and hence why some people can get away with a coffee after dinner and still sleep soundly, while others can't tolerate coffee at all or need to keep caffeine to earlier in the day.

For those who tend towards SNS dominance or anxiety coffee may not be your best friend, and swapping to tea or dandelion root tea for a week and seeing how you feel may make a huge difference in your life!

For those who struggle with sleep, you absolutely need to keep coffee to morning only, limit your intake or try a week off the liquid gold and see if sleep improves.

A coffee after breakfast, rather than on an empty tummy will also be much easier on your nervous system so tweaking your morning routine could make all the difference for you here.

The other consideration here is with breastfeeding. Many of the constituents in coffee including caffeine are passed to our bubs in our milk. Their little livers and not as efficient in processing caffeine either, and so colicky, unsettled and wakeful babies may find coffee too stimulating. If you find motherhood wiring then it might pay off to try to go a week without and see if you notice change. I know this is a huge step for tired mum's who rely on coffee for energy, however trying a B vitamin complex, adrenal support/adaptogen herbs that are safe in breastfeeding and even juicing with beetroot in the morning are alternative ways to boost energy without relying on coffee.

Coffee can be the good guy too -

Coffee has many positive medicinal qualities. It is stimulating to the liver, can be effective for migraine relief, beneficial for muscle and aerobic endurance, increases focus and concentration and can boost mood. It also has laxative qualities which can be wonderful for those with sluggish bowels (no so great for those who tend towards to opposite). It can also be an appetite suppressant which on one hand might be beneficial for weight loss, however if you are a busy mum and prone to skipping meals be wary of this one.

In short, coffee is so commonly consumed that we forget it is a drink with medicinal qualities, just like any other medicinal herb we should be considering if it is right for us individually, right for us at this point in time and be conscious of quality and quantity.

In most cases, a little cuppa is absolutely not going to hurt when trying to conceive, pregnant or in the postpartum period however we do need to be aware of our sensitivities in this time, need for rest and sleep and nervous system nourishment and potentially think outside the square if relying to heavily on caffeine merely to keep us going.

Emma xx

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emma jacques

Women's Health

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