Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Drinking like a pregnant person

For starters, I have to share one story. Over the weekend someone asked me if my husband and I are planning on having children. I accept that people are going to ask me this even if they barely know me, as was the case this time. It's simply something humans do, inquiring after each other's procreational intentions. My blanket response is: "We're working on it," which is what I said this time. The person asked me how long we'd been working on it. I said, "A while." She said, "Oh, then you should stop trying! Then I'm sure it would happen. You know, because of all the stress that builds up in your body."

I think I said, "I know, right?" But I was thinking of an infertility blog I sometimes check in at that's titled, "Just Stop Trying And It Will Happen." The title is obviously hyperbolic and represents one of the infertility community's most detested pieces of advice. That, along with "Are you sure you're doing it right?"

Our favorite response to this one is: "You mean the penis is supposed to go in the vagina?!"

So anyway. That's not what this post is about today; that was just a little anecdote to whet your appetite.

What today's post is about is how I've stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol. In the circles I hang out, this has not gone unnoticed. I love me some wine. And coffee, for that matter.

So let's start with coffee. Here are some bullet-pointed nuggets from Making Babies:

- Caffeine can decrease the flow of blood to the uterus, which can interfere with implantation.
- Too much caffeine may increase the risk of clotting and miscarriage.
- Coffee is acidic and can make the body and the cervical mucus acidic, too. Several studies have concluded that coffee (with or without caffeine) diminishes fertility. A recent large Dutch study determined that four cups of coffee a day lowered a woman's chances of having a baby by more than 25 percent -- comparable to the damage done by smoking, being overweight, or having three or more alcoholic drinks a week.
- Some studies have linked coffee and low sperm count.

And alcohol:

- Some studies show even low levels of alcohol can cut fertility by as much as one-half.
- One large study concluded that women who had fewer than five drinks a week were twice as likely to get pregnant in a given six-month period compared to women who drank more.
- Another study demonstrated that men who drank alcohol regularly took twice as long to get their partners pregnant as men who didn't drink at all.
- Alcohol is toxic to sperm, and overuse can reduce sperm quality, increase abnormal sperm, and lower motility. Men who drink have been shown to have lower sperm counts and lower testosterone.
- In women alcohol can be  a risk factor for ovulatory infertility.
- Alcohol also interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food. That includes zinc, which is key for male fertility in particular.
- Alcohol interferes with the action of folic acid as well, which plays an important role in the maturation of an egg for ovulation.
- Alcohol acidifies the body, including the cervical mucus. If the mucus gets to acidic, sperm can't survive in it, and so can't reach the egg.

These are good things to remember, that I'm constantly "forgetting." It's so much easier to just take some extra supplements than it is to turn down a glass of wine at a party; believe me, I know. But the payoff just might be worth it. 


  1. Your posts are inspiring me to start a blog about my journey...not for the fact that I have any answers for people to read, but it seems like a good way to release all my thoughts.

    I love the question/comment about "doing" it right. :)

    Can I ask how drinking like a preggo is going for you? How long have you been good? You are so right on point about how easy it is to take supplements and how hard it is to turn down stimulants. This has been my issue.

  2. I always tell people: Everyone should have a blog! Not everyone agrees with me, but I think it's cathartic.

    It's not easy. I had a few sips of my husband's beer at a party over the weekend, and a small coffee on Monday. Oh, and a decaf on Saturday. I think if you can just dial it back a little, you're good. 80% is perfection, as the book says. :-)

  3. OK. So I really need to get on the life-without-caffeine-and-alcohol bandwagon. I have managed to stop popping Excedrin like candy. But that's it.

  4. My sympathies to your loss of alcohol and caffeine.


    Just kidding. Those would be two toughies for me too!

  5. I didn't drink coffee when I had Mackenzie. Now I can't live without it. I'll gladly drink yours now.

  6. Ok - I finally did... I started a blog. Thanks for the comment!

    Day 1 of no coffee and I had a latte. Hmmm... I think I need some work!

  7. Caffeine (which I almost always spell wrong) is my love-drug of choice. I miss it. The decaff comment scares me. (Since my GMC decaf hazelnut coffee out of my awful-wonderful yuppie Keurig is what is keeping me sane.) I assume this is the acidity thing, too, right? Do they make low acid decaff? It would probably suck.

  8. I hope this is still going well. I am off the Diet Pepsi, and now trying to kick the wine...

  9. I had a bit of a setback this weekend, but will explain in tomorrow's post...

  10. You know, I had five healthy kids and one miscarriage. I am pretty sure ALL of my kids were conceived after a glass of wine or eight, and I drink a liter of Diet Mountain Dew AND coffee every day. I don't think you have to do it all "right" before you get pregnant; how would the human race have survived? Once you're pregnant, sure; cut out the crap and do your best. But until then...I don't know. I think if it's going to go, it's going to go. I guess all I'm saying is: go easy on yourself.

  11. So true! I have been told that if I bought a car I didn't need then I would get pregnant. But the worst advice is the kind that implies it is your fault- are you sure you are doing it at the right time of the month?