For expectant moms, even beverage choices during pregnancy can feel like endless lists of do's and don’ts. Enjoying a warm cup of soothing, naturally caffeine-free herbal tea is possible during pregnancy. Though several herbal teas are recognized as safe during pregnancy, many are not. Consult your prenatal care provider to discuss using any herbal products during your pregnancy.
Caffeine and Pregnancy
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns with consuming tea during pregnancy is the caffeine content. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2010 opinion paper on caffeine and pregnancy states that moderate caffeine consumption, less than 200 milligrams, is not a major contributor in miscarriage or preterm birth. Most traditional teas have approximately 40 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, and decaf versions contain small amounts of caffeine. Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, making them agreeable beverage options during pregnancy. Your health care provider can help you determine an acceptable amount of caffeine intake during your pregnancy.
Herbal Tea Varieties
Herbal "teas" aren’t derived from the tea plant at all. Traditional teas, such as green, black and oolong, are made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas differ from traditional tea in that they are made from leaves, roots, bark, seeds, berries and flowers. Common pregnancy-friendly herbal teas include those from leaves like peppermint and red raspberry and from roots, such as ginger.
Herbal Tea Recommendations
Safe herbal tea ingredients during pregnancy are red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, ginger root and lemon balm. There isn't enough evidence about other common herbal teas such as chamomile, nettles and rose hips to determine their safety during pregnancy, and they are therefore not recommended. The American Pregnancy Association recommends selecting commercially packaged herbal tea during pregnancy because the strength of herbal tea is affected by the quantity and quality of ingredients. Therefore, consult your physician before including any noncommercially packaged herbal products during pregnancy.
Herbal Tea Effectiveness
The health benefits of herbal teas are unclear. One randomized, double-blind study published in "Obstetrics & Gynecology" in 2001 demonstrated ginger root's effectiveness in reducing the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. However, the consensus among several literature reviews examining herbal use during pregnancy is that there is insufficient research to clearly demonstrate their effectiveness and safety. Though several herbs have been identified as safe during pregnancy, you should discuss any herbal supplement, including tea, with your prenatal care provider.