Pregnancy is an exiting time for most women but it is also a time when women have to take extra care about their health. During pregnancy, women are naturally concerned about what they are putting into their bodies and it often means they miss out on some of their favorite food and drink.
For a pregnant woman, one of the first things to cut from their diet is caffeine. For women that are used to drinking regular cups of tea or coffee, this can be a tough adjustment. Fortunately, there are a number of healthy herbal alternatives that women can enjoy.
Many types of tea, including regular black tea, contain a variety of polyphenols and antioxidants that can reduce your risk of disease and keep you generally healthy. Many teas are also a good source of healthy nutrients that can boost the immune system and improve digestion. these benefits are even more important for expectant moms.
A cup of herbal tea in the morning may also help ease nausea and morning sickness and could even help labor progress more smoothly. This article will take a look at some of the best and safest herbal teas for pregnant women.
What are Herbal Teas?
These days, there is a huge range of herbal teas on offer. They are made by simply infusing parts of a plant in hot water. They are made from many parts of a plant including :
Unlike regular black tea, herbal teas do not contain any caffeine. They are drunk for pure enjoyment or for their potential health benefits. Some herbal teas are known to soothe an upset stomach, others can help keep blood pressure in check while others are known to help relax the mind and promote a good night of sleep.
Are Herbal Teas Safe During Pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, then safety is a very important consideration. Some herbal teas are likely safe while others may put your baby at risk.
Herbal teas and herbs in general are not regulated by the FDA. This means that they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as prescription medications and over the counter drugs. One of the big issues with herbal teas and other herbal preparations is that they may be contaminated.
While there is always a concern about contamination, the American pregnancy Association or APA suggests that the majority of commercial herbal tea brands are safe to consume in moderation. However, the quality and the potency of herbal tea can vary considerably from product to product. Because of this, it is very important that you only buy from a reputable manufacturer so do your research.
The Best Herbal Teas for Pregnant Women
So, what are the safest and healthiest herbal teas for moms to be?
The following herbal teas are generally considered to be safe to drink during pregnancy but it is still good practice to speak to your doctor or midwife to make sure that there is no risk to you or your baby.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea is one of the most popular herbal teas for women during pregnancy. According to one study, over half of all women use herbal remedies while pregnant with 63% of those having used red raspberry leaf tea. (1)
It is usually recommended for the later stages of pregnancy but many women use it to help ease morning sickness symptoms during their first trimester.
Res raspberry leaf tea may also help pregnant women by strengthening the uterus, improving the outcome of labor and preventing bleeding following childbirth.
Might help to shorten labor
Red raspberry leaf tea contains a compound called fragarine which can help tighten and tone the pelvic muscles and the uterine walls. This may help pregnant women during labor by easing the delivery. (2)
According to one study involving 108 pregnant women, those who consumed red raspberry leaf tea during the latter stages of pregnancy were more likely to have a shorter labor. (3)
These findings were supported the next year when a study involving 192 pregnant women also found that the average length of labor was reduced by nearly 10 minutes. (4)
Reduced Complications During Childbirth
There is also evidence that drinking this herbal tea during the latter stages of pregnancy can promote a labor with less risk of complications.
One study suggests that the use of interventions like forceps were less necessary in pregnant women who drank the tea during the later stage of pregnancy. (5)
Another study found that there was an 11% decrease in the use of forceps for women that consumed the tea during the last few months of pregnancy. (6)
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea is another healthy herbal tea that is generally regarded as safe for pregnant women to consume. Lemon balm, known scientifically as Melissa officinalis, is an herb with a lemon scent from the mint family.
The herb has been used traditionally to improve mood and calm the nerves. It may help alleviate stress and anxiety and help pregnant women get a better night of sleep.
A study published in 2004 found that volunteers who took lemon balm extract experienced feelings of calm while they also felt less alert. (7)
Another study, published in 2014, found that lemon balm helped reduce feelings of anxiety, excitability and nerves. Although the study focused on an herbal extract rather than lemon balm tea, the participants reported that the herb helped improve their mood and reduce their sense of anxiety. (8)
Lemon balm tea may also help promote better sleep, which would benefit a number of women that struggle to get to sleep during their pregnancy. There is evidence that lemon balm combined with valerian root can help improve sleep but more research is necessary in future to confirm these findings. (9)
As well as helping to relieve stress and anxiety, lemon balm may also help ease the sickness and nausea that many pregnant women experience. A review, published in 2005, found that the herb may be useful in relieving nausea and other digestive troubles. (10)
If you suffer from morning sickness or feel nauseous during your pregnancy, try drinking a cup of this herbal tea. Lemon balm tea is readily available these days at many stores and online.
You may not be as familiar with rooibos tea as many other herbal teas but it is increasing in popularity. In Southern parts of Africa, it is nothing new and has long been regarded as a healthy and delicious beverage.
It is a great source of antioxidants and is seen as a healthy, caffeine free alternative to caffeinated teas like green tea and black tea. Because of its lack of caffeine and high levels of healthy antioxidants, it is regarded as a good choice for pregnant women.
Rooibos tea contains very high levels of antioxidants including quercetin and aspalthin. These antioxidants promote general health and can help reduce the risk of serious disease including cancer and heart disease.
Rooibos tea is often recommended to pregnant women because it is totally caffeine-free its high levels of antioxidants. It is also delicious, so give it a try.
Peppermint Leaf Tea
Peppermint leaf tea or peppermint tea is also considered to be a safe and healthy choice for women during pregnancy. Peppermint has a distinctive minty scent and a refreshing taste that can help you feel fresh and alert.
Most of the focus of studies into peppermint have focused on the herb and its essential oil rather than the tea. However, there is evidence that peppermint has a wide range of health benefits including anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antimicrobial properties.
A number of studies have demonstrated that peppermint can help treat a range of digestive complaints including stomach upset and abdominal pain.
There is also evidence that peppermint ,may help relieve feelings of sickness and nausea. One study, published in 2013 found that peppermint oil helped ease feelings of nausea and reduce vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. (11)
While there are no studies into the effects of peppermint tea on sickness and nausea, there is a good chance that the tea has a similar effect. This makes it a good option for women suffering from morning sickness.
Rose Bud Tea
Rose tea is another delicious and healthy tea that is regarded as safe for women who are pregnant and breast feeding. It is completely free of caffeine and high in nutrients especially vitamin C and is rich in polyphenols with potent antioxidant properties.
One of the potential benefits of rose tea is the boost it can give your immune system. A strong immune system keeps your body strong and free of sickness. this is especially important when you are pregnant.
Rose bud tea is readily available these days. It is regarded as generally safe and healthy during pregnancy but you should consult a doctor to be sure.
Ginger Root Tea
Ginger root tea is another very healthy beverage which is regarded as safe for pregnant women. It is caffeine- free and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is well-known as a digestive aid and studies into the essential oil of ginger have revealed that it can help relieve nausea and vomiting. (12)
While there are no studies into the effects of ginger in tea form, there is plenty of evidence to suggest the herb and the oil have outstanding benefits.
You can buy ginger tea in ready made form or make your own cup of fresh ginger tea by adding a few slices of the root to a cup of hot water.
What Herbal Teas Should be Avoided During Pregnancy?
While a number of teas appear to be safe and healthy during pregnancy there are others that should be treated with caution or avoided altogether.
Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf tea is often recommended for pregnant women especially during the later stages of pregnancy. The herb is often found as an ingredient in commercial ‘pregnancy teas’. However, there are concerns that it should not be drunk during the first trimester since it may trigger contractions in the uterus and potentially a miscarriage or difficulties in labor.
Nettle leaves also known as stinging nettles are an excellent source of nutrients including important minerals like potassium and iron. They are also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K.
If you are making nettle leaf tea yourself, it is important only to use the dried leaves and not the root.
You should avoid drinking nettle leaf tea during the first trimester of pregnancy because here is some concern that nettle leaves can stimulate the uterus. However, many experts consider that nettle leaf tea is safe for pregnant women during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
The jury remains out so it is probably better to avoid the herb altogether or make sure that you speak to your medical provider first.
Nettle leaf tea is readily available these days. You might also try making your own by adding about an ounce of dried nettle leaves to a liter of boiling water.
Chamomile tea is a very popular herbal beverage. It is especially well-known for its ability to promotes sleep and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. It is also free of caffeine, so on the face of it, you would think chamomile tea was a suitable choice for women during pregnancy.
However, pregnant women should be careful when drinking chamomile tea. While it is generally considered safe in moderation, there are concerns when it is drunk in larger quantities, In fact, many midwives and doctors recommend avoiding it completely during pregnancy as it might stimulate uterine contractions which can lead to problems in labor and even a potential miscarriage.
Whether you are pregnant or not, you should also avoid drinking chamomile, if you are allergic to any plants belonging to the Asteraceae family. these include :
Dandelion Leaf Tea
Dandelion leaf is another herb that is often found as an ingredient in commercial pregnancy teas. Dandelions are often seen as a weed but the leaves and the root have a lot of potential health benefits.
The plant is very rich in calcium and vitamin A and is often used to ease inflammation during pregnancy. However, dandelion leaves are also a natural diuretic. This means they increase the frequency or urination and the volume of urine produced.
As a result, caution is necessary for pregnant women and it is not recommended.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root tea is becoming more and more popular. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women because it stimulates uterine contractions and increases the risk of early labor and complications.
Pennyroyal tea must be avoided during pregnancy. It is believed to stimulate menstruation and uterine contractions leading to serious complications and potentially miscarriage.
Slippery Elm Bark Tea
Slippery elm bark tea can help to relieve both nausea and heartburn because of the way it coats the stomach. The inner bark of the plant is considered safe for pregnant women when it is used in small doses. However, there are concerns among experts that the outer bark can stimulate the uterus and cause a miscarriage.
Because of these concerns and the difficulty of knowing the precise ingredients of slippery elm bark tea, it should be avoided altogether during your pregnancy,
Herbal Teas with Laxative Properties
Constipation is a very common complaint during pregnancy. However, teas with laxative effects can also cause dehydration and may disrupt the body’s balance of electrolytes. They may also stimulate uterine contractions making them a cause of concern during pregnancy.
According to the American Pregancy Association, laxative teas should be avoided during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are suffering from constipation should increase their intake of fiber and make sure they stay well-hydrated with fresh fluids.
Chicory Root Teas
Teas made using chicory root are likely unsafe for pregnant women especially when consumed in large quantities. The compounds contained in chicory are believed to stimulate menstruation and possibly even miscarriage. Check the ingredients of your herbal teas carefully since many combined herbal brews contain chicory root.
If you are pregnant, there are plenty of herbal teas that are not only considered safe, but are also very goos for you.
Red raspberry leaf tea has been studied quite extensively and there is some evidence that it could be beneficial to pregnancy and labor. Other excellent choices are ginger tea, rose tea and roobios.
There are however a number of teas that may increase the risk of miscarriage and difficulties during labor, If in doubt, please consult your doctor to be sure that you are putting the right herbs into your body.
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