Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.”

Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about coffee and pregnancy?

A. Pregnant women or women hoping to become pregnant should avoid coffee at all times.
B. A new reputable study says coffee is harmful to pregnant women.
C. Stress and anxiety are dangerous for pregnant women and their growing babies.

Let’s take these statements one at a time:

A. False. First of all, women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant should always first talk to their doctor about these issues, not rely on what they see on the internet, in magazines, on television, or on mommy blogs.

Doctors know best when it comes to legitimate health and medical issues so doctors should always be the go-to about pregnancy questions. Also, people are different! There are certain conditions (for example, high blood pressure and other heart conditions) that may require a pregnant woman to entirely stop drinking caffeinated beverages. Other women may be fine with a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s best to check with your doctor!

But all women should know that there is a lot of unnecessary alarmism about pregnancy in general and the issue of whether or not to consume caffeine while pregnant is no exception. Here’s some perspective: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, moderate caffeine intake each day (about a 12-ounce cup of coffee) won’t increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth and isn’t harmful to the mother.

Pregnancy is hard. Don’t let that lack of morning brew make it harder (but again, check with your doctor!).

B. True and False. It’s true that a new study was published about the supposed dangers of coffee consumption and pregnancy, but it’s false that this was a “reputable” study. In fact, the study and the lead researcher have been widely criticized within the science community. And in an unusual move, 20 public health officials (almost all female) sent a letter to the medical journal that published the study saying, they do not consider the study’s claims “…to be appropriate or justified, due to a number of serious methodological limitations, statistical errors, and a concerning lack of objectivity [from the study’s author]…” adding that for that reason, the study’s conclusions “…should be interpreted with extreme caution.”

In other words, this is a study to ignore. It is not a study upon which you should change your coffee drinking habits.

C. True. Stress and anxiety are major dangers to a pregnant woman and her growing baby. According to WebMD, “…constant stress could alter your body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation, in turn, has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and developmental problems in babies down the road.” Multiple studies back this up. A 2008 study of nearly 20,000 pregnant women showed that experiencing high levels of stress had an 80 percent greater risk of stillbirth than women who lower stress levels during pregnancy. A 2010 study found that the children of women who experience common stressful events during their pregnancy had an increased risk of behavioral problems. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that the offspring of women who suffered stress during pregnancy are more prone to depression and anxiety.

Alarmist suggestions — like one cup of coffee is a serious danger to pregnant women and their babies – force expectant mothers to concentrate on nonsense rather than focusing on what would really help them and their growing child—proper nutrition, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, regular medical checkups, and a reduction in stress.