I spent a lot of time reading tea labels when I was pregnant with Lily. I was often over at my mother-in-law’s and we’d decide we wanted a cup of tea. Then I’d rustle through the tins, boxes and jars of tea in her cupboard, searching for one that fit our mood—and my pregnant state. At work, Starbucks had just introduced their new line of teas and all of us baristas were supposed to be sampling and promoting them. But most of the teas contained ingredients that weren’t safe for me to drink while pregnant.
I’ve been surprised by how many of my friends have offered me herbal tea instead of coffee when I’m pregnant. They’re aware that caffeine isn’t the greatest for the baby, but don’t realize that some teas should be avoided too. Here’s what I’ve learned about drinking coffee and tea during pregnancy.
Coffee and Pregnancy
Studies have shown that consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy can cause either miscarriage or low birth weights. Caffeine acts a stimulant, which increases your heart rate and metabolism—and your baby’s. Too much of that can be bad for the baby.
However, one or two cups of coffee a day is okay. If you like more coffee than that, try switching to decaf coffee instead. For more details, check out “Caffeine and Pregnancy: What’s Safe?”
Tea and Pregnancy
Black, green, and oolong teas contain caffeine, although not as much as coffee, so they should be consumed in moderation. Green tea can prevent your body from absorbing folic acid and iron, important nutrients for pregnant moms.
Herbal teas do not have caffeine, but herbs have their own medicinal properties which may cause miscarriage or affect your unborn baby. The BabyCenter explains that “only a few of the herbs used for teas have been studied in pregnant women.” If you have a favourite tea, ask your prenatal care provider if it’s okay to keep drinking that. The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding herbal teas during pregnancy, so you may be safer to just have one or two cups of regular tea or find a different drink.
Herbs you will probably want to avoid during pregnancy include passion flower, goldenseal, black and blue cohosh (unless recommended by your midwife to induce labour), chamomile, hibiscus (a common ingredient in many teas), lemongrass, licorice root and evening primrose.
Teas that are helpful during pregnancy include ginger and mint teas, which may reduce morning sickness, and rooibos tea, which is caffeine-free and antioxidant. (Even so, check the ingredients; the rooibos tea in my cupboard also has licorice root and chamomile in it, two herbs which fall on the “may be unsafe” list.) You can also look for teas blended specifically for pregnant women, such as those recommended in “Tea Time.”
Drinking Coffee and Tea During Pregnancy
In the end, it comes down to what you think is best for you and your baby. My first midwife recommended raspberry leaf to me for strengthening the uterus; other health experts advise avoiding raspberry leaf tea because it can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage. Personally, I prefer coffee over tea, but I’ll probably still limit myself to a cup a day—and keep reading tea labels.
Are you a big coffee or tea drinker? Did you keep drinking coffee and tea during pregnancy?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert; I am simply sharing my opinions based on what I’ve learned in my research from pregnancy and baby websites. I encourage you to do your own research.