Is Drinking Herbal Tea Safe In Pregnancy?
Many health care providers including doctors, midwives and naturopaths believe that drinking certain herbal teas during pregnancy is an excellent way to support a healthy pregnancy.
We get most of our vitamins and minerals from our food, however herbal teas can often provide an additional natural source of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and iron that we need when we are pregnant. Due to the lack of clinical studies and trials on most herbs, it is encouraged to use caution when drinking herbal teas in pregnancy. For that reason, the herbs that are commonly found in pregnancy teas are ones that have been used from ancient times and have been proven over time to be not only effective but safe as well.
Regular tea—made from the leaves of the tea plant--is thought to have many health benefits because there are antioxidants present in the tea--however, it also contains caffeine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are encouraged to cut down on or eliminate caffeine entirely because of the evidence that suggests high levels of caffeine may pose risks to the unborn baby. Current research suggests that a safe amount of caffeine in pregnancy is 200 mg per day which is equivalent to a 12 oz cup of coffee.
The average cup of non-herbal tea contains about 40-50 milligrams of caffeine. Decaffeinated non-herbal tea still contains a very small amount of caffeine--only about .4 milligrams--so pregnant and breastfeeding women who are cutting out caffeine completely may want to replace their regular tea with a herbal tea blend instead.
Herbal teas are made from the roots, berries, flowers, seeds, and leaves of a variety of plants and are naturally caffeine free. They are commonly considered to have medicinal properties. There are many different kinds of herbal teas as they are often crafted to address specific health needs including pregnancy.
Because of the mixed opinions on the safety of herbal teas for both pregnant and non-pregnant women, you need to make sure that the tea you choose is not made with herbs that are known to be toxic.
Most commercial brands of herbal teas are thought to be safe for anyone to consume in reasonable amounts. Matraea chooses to only use certified organic herbs in all of their teas and only uses herbs that have been considered safe in pregnancy and approved by Health Canada and the FDA. The tea is loose leaf as it is most effective and beneficial in its most natural form.
There are a number of pregnancy teas, and most will often contain Red Raspberry Leaf. This is a common herb considered to be beneficial in pregnancy. Many midwives and naturopaths will recommend teas for pregnancy that contain this herb because medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can be consumed safely during pregnancy and can decrease the length of labour and the number of interventions used, such as artificial rupture of membranes (ARM), instrumental delivery or Caesarean Section. As well, it is associated with preventing pre-term birth or from a pregnancy going overdue.
Common Herbs used in Pregnancy
The following are common ingredients you may find in herbal teas for pregnancy and are many of the herbs used in Matraea’s organic pregnancy teas.
Red Raspberry Leaf: High in Fragine and Tannins, this herb helps strengthen and tone the uterus for birth. Rich in iron, this herb is also known for increase milk production, decrease nausea, and decrease pain associated with menstrual cramping. Most pregnancy teas contain red raspberry leaf either as a single ingredient or as part of a blend of herbs. Although considered safe in all trimesters, Midwives will advise caution in the first trimester if someone has a history of miscarriage.
Nettle: High in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and iron. This herb contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of all the herbs and mimics hemoglobin, the molecule that carries iron around the body. Excellent for providing energy and strength in all stages of pregnancy.
Oatstraw: Excellent support for the nervous system by bringing balance and calm during periods of stress.
Peppermint Leaf: Flavourful herb that is helpful in relieving nausea in all stages of pregnancy. Can be associated with decreased milk production if consumed in very large quantities.
Lemon Grass: provides a light lemony flavour and adds the known health benefit of reducing mild swelling due to water retention, helping with insomnia, and regulating blood pressure.
Ginger root: High in vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, Ginger is well known for aiding in digestion and reducing nausea and is ideal for supporting women experiencing mild to moderate levels of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
Chamomile: High in calcium and magnesium, also helps with sleeplessness, inflammation of joints and boost the immune system.
Rose Hip: Excellent source of Vitamin C and helps boost the immune system.
Cornsilk: Acts as a mild natural diuretic that helps reduce mild swelling of the hands, feet and ankles.
Spearmint: Commonly used to combat nausea, it is also known for its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties which is why it is often found in mouthwash where it can reduce bacteria in the mouth and throat. Gum disease can be one of the leading causes of pre-term birth.
Cinnamon: Provides a great taste to any tea while having the known benefit of lowering blood sugar levels.
As with most things in pregnancy, if you are unsure, it is best to talk with your midwife or doctor prior to drinking any herbal tea so that you are able to choose the ones best suited for your needs.
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There are also teas formulated using different herbs and common seeds for like Fenugreek for use after pregnancy to help promote milk production while breastfeeding. Learn more about Matraea Rumina’s Milk tea in our next tea series blog.
Depending where you are in your pregnancy, order your pregnancy tea now. After you have had your baby, you may consider switching to a general New Mama tea or Matraea’s Milk Tea while breastfeeding.
Interesting TEA fact: Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water!!
Contributed by guest blogger Cate Black