While non-herbal teas such as black, green and oolong tea contain caffeine, herbal teas are typically safe for pregnant women to drink in moderate amounts. Herbal teas are made from roots, berries, flowers, seeds and other parts of plants such as the rooibos, hibiscus, nettle and rose hips and are often used to relieve nausea, aid digestion, relieve arthritis pain, ease menstrual discomfort and to aid sleep. They can also provide important vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.
While many of these herbal teas are considered safe, it is important to avoid any that are not. Most herbal teas are not scrutinized by the FDA and may contain compounds that can pose a risk to an expecting mother, including increased stomach upset, miscarriage or other problems. In addition, some herbal teas may interfere with certain medications a woman may be taking, such as sedatives and painkillers.
Some examples of popular herbal teas include ginger, peppermint, chamomile and red raspberry leaf. Ginger and chamomile teas are said to alleviate morning sickness, while peppermint is believed to reduce nausea. Some midwives recommend drinking a cup of rooibos tea during pregnancy because it is caffeine-free and full of antioxidants. A few cups of chamomile tea at bedtime are known to promote relaxation. A number of midwives believe that drinking a cup of red raspberry leaf tea can induce labor by stimulating the uterus and softening the cervix.
Other herbal teas that are deemed unsafe or ill-advised for pregnant women include diet, cleansing and detox teas; herbal blends that include herbs such as black cohosh, blue cohosh and dong quai; and any tea with a large amount of licorice root. The use of licorice root is recommended only by health care professionals to treat uterine fibroids or other gynecological problems that may occur in pregnancy.
Drinking a few cups of herbal tea a day can be a healthy part of any diet, but it is important to drink different types so that you don’t exceed the daily amount of specific herbs that have been identified as potentially dangerous for an expecting mother. Also, it is a good idea to avoid drinking the same herbal tea continuously throughout pregnancy as this can be hard on your stomach and lead to excessive vomiting.
It is also a good idea to check the ingredients of any herbal tea you drink and try to find ones that are made with low amounts of caffeine or none at all, since consuming too much caffeine while pregnant can cause complications. If you are unsure of the safety of an herbal tea, ask your healthcare provider. He or she can tell you more about the tea’s ingredients and their possible effects on your baby. He or she may even recommend a tea that is suitable for your condition.