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Herbal Teas While Pregnant: Is it Safe?

Katlyn Joy |27, August 2012


Coffee drinkers know having a pot of java brewing is not a good idea while expecting. But what about tea, even herbal teas? Are some OK? Could some even be dangerous for pregnant women?

Black Tea, Green Tea and Oolong Tea

These non-herbal teas are considered safe and even healthy for the general population, with benefits such as anti-oxidants and immunity strengthening ingredients. Tea may also help alleviate morning sickness in those first weeks of pregnancy. However, you do need to watch the caffeine levels in your tea. The average cup of tea contains 40 to 50 milligrams of caffeine and even the decaffeinated brands have small amounts of caffeine, but probably not enough to concern you unless you drink loads of it. You may decaffeinate your favorite tea by steeping a cup of tea, draining the water and steeping another cup with the same tea bag.

Doctors and researchers have not established a clear boundary for how much caffeine is too much for an expectant mother, but they do know that caffeine crosses the placenta and babies are of course much less able to process the substance than adults. Talk to your doctor about your tea intake, and consider refraining from the morning cup at least during your early weeks when the risk of miscarriage is highest. Caffeine has been linked to an increased miscarriage risk in some studies.

Herbal Teas

Practitioners of natural health have used herbs from earliest times and swear by certain herbs. Unlike other meds, herbal teas do not undergo FDA testing and as such cannot be guaranteed safe for pregnant women, even if labelled as a pregnancy tea. However, some teas are widely believed to help with certain pregnancy symptoms or to help with certain aspects of pregnancy or labor. If you want to drink tea that is herbal, realize that herbal tea is made from different plants and some could be dangerous to both you and your baby. Before using any herbal product including tea, check with your health care provider.

Some herbs that are popular among pregnant tea drinkers, and likely safe, include:

  • Peppermint tea. This tea helps with upset stomachs including from morning sickness.
  • Lemon balm This tea aids calmness, and will ease insomnia.
  • Red raspberry leaf tea. This tea is supposed to aid uterine health and help prevent pre-term labor.
  • Chamomile. This tea is good for relaxing and alleviating insomnia.

Herbal teas that are possibly dangerous for pregnant women include:

Any herbal teas that are laxatives. These can cause dangerous chemical imbalances in pregnant women in particular.

  • Blue or black cohosh.
  • Basil oil
  • Passion flower
  • Pennyroyal
  • Golden seal
  • Comfrey
  • Juniper
  • Mistletoe
  • Wild yam
  • Sassafras
  • Yohimbe

Healthy Options

Create your own special tea using a black tea base and adding some cinnamon sticks to stir, or brew some with dried fruit like apples, pineapple or oranges or use fresh slices. You could also use some honey in place of sugar to sweeten your tea. You could also spice up your regular cup of tea with a little squirt of fruit juice. Experiment to find something that pleases your palate while keeping both you and baby safe.

If you prefer green tea, which is a healthy tea, just make certain you keep an eye on how much caffeine you are ingesting. Remember that caffeine is safest once you are out of the first trimester to avoid miscarriage risks and after the baby's major development has occurred.

For another taste, add some milk to your tea. Get a little more calcium in your diet and create a smooth taste to your tea.

For iced tea options, consider the same ideas and again watch the caffeine amounts. Fruit flavored iced tea may be the perfect way to get over your soft drink obsession that you know is bad for baby.

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