If Coffee And Chocolate Are Bad, I Don't Want To Be Good

BlogHer Original Post

So I'm sitting and drinking the first of my two daily half-caf no-foam lattes and reading the newspaper the other day, when this headline catches my eye:

Daily Double Can Be Fatal To Fetus.

Which, seeing as my own caffeinated fetus was just at that moment tap-dancing on my ovary walls, alarmed me, just a little. I sipped my latte, and read on:

"In what is believed the clearest and strongest evidence yet linking caffeine to miscarriage, California researchers who followed more than 1,000 pregnant women found those who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine daily -- the equivalent of two cups of regular coffee, or five, 12-ounce cans of caffeinated pop -- had twice the risk of miscarriage as women who avoided caffeine.

Even women who consumed less that 200 mg of caffeine a day had a 42% increased risk of losing the pregnancy".

42%?!?!? I put down my coffee.

I didn't drink coffee at all during my first pregnancy. In fact, I didn't drink coffee from the time we were trying to conceive until about three months post-partum. I didn't know any stats on the effects of caffeine on pregnancy - and in any case, no such comprehensive study as this had yet been done two years ago - but I wasn't taking any chances. Any product that What To Expect When You're Expecting flagged as potentially problematic, I avoided.

This time, however, I had vowed to reduce my anxiety during pregnancy. The last time I was pregnant, I had worked my anxiety - did the spotting mean I was miscarrying? did I accidentally consume smoked meat? was that California roll cooked haddock or RAW CRAB? does Splenda cause birth defects? does antiperspirant? IS THE WORLD ONE BIG FETAL DEATH TRAP? - up to such a pitch that my doctor prescribed anti-depressants two months pre-partum (which I didn't take, because, you know, THE DANGER).

This time, I was doing no such thing. I was going to drink moderate amounts of coffee and not pitch my antiperspirant in favour of some $12 rock-crystal deodorant thingy made from Dead Sea Salts. I was going to chill the eff out.

Other pregnant women chill out. I know that NoMotherEarth drank coffee during her pregnancy. Mothergoosemouse has been living on chocolate and at least thinking about picking up a pepperoni stick (which she is resisting, of course, because it's Eat-No-Meat month for BlogHersAct Canada, and not because of a terror of listeria.) Mrs. Chicky freely admits to an uncomfortably intense predeliction for the fast-food delicacies at Taco Bell, at least when the pregnancy hurls and retches aren't plaguing her (although she really, really wants to change this, you know, after the pregnancy.)

(Speaking of the pregnancy hurls-and-retches, the researchers involved in this coffee-can-kill-your-baby study say that previous studies were always thrown off by the phenomenon of nauseous pregnant women not drinking coffee - which was never taken into account, and which threw off the stats because women who suffer from morning sickness in any extreme are less likely to miscarry. Which is some consolation when you're bent over the toilet like a drunken sailor, but only some.)

So I have - at least since the gut-wrenching morning sickness wore off - been drinking coffee. Not much; generally the equivalent of about one (usually organic and free-trade, like that matters in the context of miscarriage. Or does it?) espresso drink per day. But I've also been drinking my body weight in hot chocolate, and feasting on chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate (some of which courtesy of Mothergoosemouse, who shares her stash.) And the researchers of this study say that chocolate figures into their calculations: "the higher the intake of caffeine from any source -- coffee, tea, caffeine-containing soft drinks or hot chocolate -- the greater the risk of early or late miscarriage." Which, to me, should just read as you're screwed, preggo, go be miserable.

Where's the appropriate trade-off, then, when it comes to balancing anxiety and risk and the need to just try to chill out about this stuff? Do I give up my precious chocolate and my beloved latte and try to not obsess about whether I've caffeinate this pregnancy into oblivion? Or do I take it all with a grain of salt (or cocoa) and remind myself that anything (most things) in appropriate moderation is unlikely to hurt me or the baby?

And how, exactly, is one supposed to chill out without chocolate?

* Don't forget that this week is the last week of BlogHerActs Canada's Meatless Challenge, part of our year of eco-challenges. You could make a week of it! Write a post! Send a recipe!

* From the Just Because It's Interesting files: Sandra of BlogChocolate (mmm) - one of the founders of BlogHersAct Canada - has discovered an important eco-friendly use for chocolate: vehicle fuel! (I know - you're saying to yourself, that's a waste of good chocolate. I did. But it's chocolate waste - there is such a thing, apparently - and not dark Belgian truffles that they're using. So I guess it's okay. But how do you keep from licking your fuel pipe?)


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