What did you last crave? Was it chocolate? Waffles? Upside-down sponge cake? Or was it a craving for a sip of toasty warm, delightedly delicious, mouth-wateringly aromatic tea?
With all of the warnings about consuming caffeinated drinks during pregnancy, many mums-to-be are hesitant to drink their favourite tea. But is drinking tea during pregnancy safe? And if so, what types of tea are safe?
To Sip Or Not To Sip?
BellyBelly’s naturopath, Nicole Tracy of Nurtured By Nature has given the consumption of herbal tea during pregnancy the tick of approval.
“Overall, herbal teas are very safe and beneficial during pregnancy, as long as recommended doses are not exceeded.” Nicole states.
And in fact, according to Nicole, drinking tea while pregnant even has a few extra benefits…
Benefits of Drinking Tea During Pregnancy
“Drinking herbal teas during pregnancy is certainly a wise choice when compared with caffeinated beverages,” Nicole says.
According to Nicole, caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect, reduce nutrient absorption and deplete the adrenal glands.
Meanwhile, herbal teas hydrate, provide easily assimilated nutrients and feed the body during pregnancy. They are also packed with antioxidants and vitamin C which helps lower your anxiety and stress levels. Various types of herbal teas can also reduce morning sickness symptoms and even prepare the uterus for labour!
Well, you sold us at ‘no more morning sickness'. So which teas are best for pregnant sippers?
The Safe Tea List
1. Ginger Tea
Eases nausea (goodbye, morning sickness!), aids the digestion process and relieves stomach issues . “Just add four or five slices of fresh ginger root to a cup of freshly boiled water and drink a maximum of three cups daily.” Nicole advises.
2. Nettle Tea
Provides high levels of iron, magnesium and calcium and is described by Nicole as being a brilliant nutritive tea to sip whilst pregnant. Stick to one or two cups a day.
3. Raspberry Leaf Tea
One of our favourites at BellyBelly, this tea prepares the uterus for labour and prevents post-partum hemorrhage. According to Tracy, it's also high in calcium and magnesium and is safe to drink from the second trimester onwards. “I usually recommend that women drink one cup per day from 24 weeks, then build up to two cups at 30 weeks, three cups at 36 and three to four cups from 37 weeks.” Nicole suggests. Interested in finding out more about raspberry leaf tea? Check out our article on raspberry leaf tea.
4. Dandelion Leaf Tea
“This tea is wonderful support in late pregnancy in fluid retention is an issue.” Nicole says. She explains that dandelion leaf tea is high in potassium and has a gentle but effective diuretic effect. She suggests adding dandelion leaf to another tea as it has a slightly bitter, grassy taste.
5. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is great for relaxing your stomach muscles to help settle an upset stomach as well as the nausea and vomiting common in early pregnancy.
6. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea is highly recommended in pregnancy. It is caffeine free, contains calcium, magnesium and loads of antioxidants. It also has positive effects on digestion and can ease colic and reflux. Children can also drink Rooibos, and it is lovely with milk and a little honey.
Teas To Avoid During Pregnancy
According to research, caffeine consumption during pregnancy (particularly over has 200mg) has been directly linked with reduced birth weights. According to this study:
“Caffeine is rapidly absorbed and crosses the placenta freely. After ingestion of 200 mg caffeine, intervillous blood flow in the placenta was found to be reduced by 25%. Cytochrome P450 1A2, the principal enzyme involved in caffeine metabolism, is absent in the placenta and the fetus.”
BMC Central has published research this year (2013) which again produced results showing that caffeine is implicated with low birth weight. They found that for a baby expected to be of average birth weight (3.6kg), it equated to a loss of 21-28 grams per 100mg of caffeine consumed per day. Caffeine also extended the length of pregnancy by 5 hours per 100mg of caffeine per day, however if you’re also a coffee drinker the news is even worse! Coffee was associated with an even longer pregnancy – 8 hours longer for every 100mg of caffeine per day.
This research illustrates the importance of keeping an eye on your caffeine consumption during pregnancy. For this reason, teas that are particularly high in caffeine should be restricted while you are pregnant.
These teas include:
- Lapsang souchong
- Hong mao
- Golden monkey black
- Quinshola clonal
- Earl grey
Teas and herbs to avoid during pregnancy due to their risk of side effects include:
- St John's Wort
- Don Quai
- Pennyroyal (known to cause miscarriage)
- Licorice Root
You would have noticed that green tea is on the restriction list. This is because there is still some discussion concerning how safe green tea is for pregnant women.
Green tea contains high amounts of caffeine and is said to reduce folic acid absorption. So if you are a green tea addict consider limiting yourself to maximum one cup a day and use that as your caffeine allowance, or try sourcing a caffeine-free green tea.
Chai tea contains caffeine, but 1-2 per week is okay. You can purchase dandelion chai at organic shops and healthy cafes, which is caffeine free and great for your liver.
Chamomile tea is fine as long as there is no history of hayfever. Its from the same family as feverfew which isn’t recommended during pregnancy. You’d need to drink a huge amount of chamomile to have any issues.
Nicole also advises to steer clear of rosemary, oregano and majoram in large amounts.
Otherwise, stick to the safe tea list and feel free to sip away and spend your pregnancy days in a tea-ensconced bliss! If you’re a coffee drinker and wondering how much you can have, check out our article here.
BellyBelly and Nicole Tracy advise you to speak to your naturopath or herbalist if you have any concerns about which teas are safe to drink during pregnancy.