Most studies have shown that it’s safe to have coffee in pregnancy as long as it’s less than 3 cups or the equivalent of 300 mg of caffeine a day. Unfortunately, many people often don’t know that sometimes even one cup of coffee may contain more than 300 mg of caffeine.
The main ingredient of concern in pregnancy of coffee is caffeine which is also an ingredient in many different drinks such as colas, cocoa, and chocolate.
The effect of caffeine on pregnancy is one of the most researched subjects. Several studies in humans have associated increased caffeine use of more than 300 mg of caffeine (or about 2 cups) a day with a decrease in fertility and an increase in the incidence of miscarriage or low birth weight babies. Most practitioners therefore recommend that you do not drink more than 1-2 cups of coffee a day when you try to get pregnant or when you are already pregnant.
A regular cup of coffee which is defined as having 8 ounces contains about 150 mg of caffeine. But it may surprise you to find out that “a cup” is not always “a cup,” and that when you drink what you think is a cup of coffee, it may actually contain much more than that.
In preparation of writing this column I went to our kitchen and took out several cups that are used in our household for drinking coffee. I filled the cups to about 1 inch below the top and measured the content of fluid in each cup. To my surprise, an average cup actually contains 12 ounces, or 1 ½ cups of fluid, and the larger ones contained 16 ounces. Therefore, a tall single cup of “Grande” coffee for example contains more than the recommended maximum of 300 mg a day. In addition, when coffee is brewed in different ways if may contain different amounts of caffeine.
Most doctors therefore recommend that pregnant women and women considering pregnancy should reduce or eliminate coffee and caffeine from their diets. If you are concerned, your best bet is to try and eliminate caffeine use entirely while trying to conceive or during pregnancy. But if you really need your daily “fix,” 1-2 regular cups of coffee are OK as long as you measure your cups of coffee correctly and you don’t have more than 300 mg caffeine per day.
In conclusion, coffee and pregnancy are safe as long as you have 2 cups of coffee or less.