Pregnant women go through a huge list of dos and don’ts, and it can get exhausting. From what not to eat to what not to do to even how you should sleep. It seems as though your whole life changes in the second you conceive.
From then on, it is no longer about you, but rather about your baby. And while you may not enjoy all the changes, they are necessary for your baby to be healthy come the end of the pregnancy.
Among these changes is the need to cut back on caffeine. Many coffee drinkers find themselves having quite a hard time moving from 400 mg to the 200 mg daily limit for pregnant women.
And in some cases, the doctor may lower this even further to 100 mg or less. In such a case, you may start thinking that tea would be the better alternative. And many people make this change during their first trimester.
They believe that this drink has way fewer effects compared to their morning fix. But the thing is that tea is also rich in caffeine. And even as you make this move or stick to your morning tea, there are some factors you have to consider.
Yes, tea is a natural and healthy way to get your morning fix, and it has a ton of benefits. But even so, it has some risks you cannot ignore, for your health and that of your baby. This article will detail what you can expect of this drink and whether you should be consuming it.
Tea variations during pregnancy
When people speak of tea, they refer to different drinks. You may be reading this with green tea in mind while another reader’s mind is on ginger tea. Generally, tea comes from pouring boiling water over dried leaves and allowing them to steep.
The longer the steeping happens, the more flavorful the drink is. Many people start their day with some form of tea, be it black, white, oolong, or another variation.
The thing is that tea comes from many plants. Most people think of the Camellia sinensis teas when they are thinking of morning fixes. But there are more variations in the market, which include herbal teas.
Tea can also be a result of mixing different types of tea, combining the herbs and spices. That’s why you come across lemon-flavored teas and the likes.
We will now categorize tea into two types. The first is what people refer to as real tea, which stems from the Camellia sinensis plant. There are variations in this tea that owe to the oxidization processes.
Black tea undergoes the most processing and is the richest in caffeine. White tea undergoes minimal or no processing and is rich in antioxidants. These teas can have caffeine or can undergo more processing to make them decaf.
The other option is herbal teas, which come from plants other than the Camellia sinensis. These can come from barks, stems, leaves, flowers, and other parts.
Given that these do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant, they do not contain caffeine. Does this mean that they are safe for use during pregnancy? Well, we will cover this.
But before we do, let us look at why you should be having tea during pregnancy.
Benefits of tea during pregnancy
Tea is a fluid, which allows it to add to your daily recommended intake of the same. Often, people think that the two liters a day refers to water. Well, even tea adds to this intake, and having it ensures that your systems run as they should.
During pregnancy, it can prove to be quite hard to eat or drink things without throwing up the next second. Even taking water might make you nauseous. You find that you are either throwing up or rushing to pee every few minutes.
And that is all thanks to the added pressure in your belly. As you lose fluids in this way, dehydration can occur. And in some cases, it may require that you seek medical attention.
Taking tea allows you to have enough fluids such that you do not get to the point of needing medical help. Did you know that some problems during pregnancy stem from dehydration?
That is right. Sometimes, you can feel constipated, tired, or pained owing to the lack of adequate water. While these effects can also owe to the changes in your body, they can be indicative of a lack of water. You can even find that you are not sleeping well at night because your body lacks water.
Note that while tea is a great way to stay hydrated, it can also have the opposite effect. When taking caffeinated tea, you are likely to suffer some diuretic effects. As a result, you would urinate more, and this would call for more fluid intake.
To avoid this, you should choose low-caffeine drinks which you should steep for short periods. It would not be a good idea to use black tea and allow it to steep for minutes on end. In this case, going herbal would be a great idea because of the lack of caffeine, thus reducing diuretic effects.
2. Morning Sickness
One of the most challenging symptoms during pregnancy is morning sickness. While the term implies that the sickness takes place in the morning hours, it can also affect you during other times.
The constant throwing up and not being able to hold things down can get to you. And for most women, this condition makes it hard for them to enjoy the first trimester.
For those whose morning sickness continues up to the third trimester, pregnancy can be a frustrating journey.
This condition often presents when the stomach is empty. The funny thing is that if you eat, nausea starts. And if you do not, it continues. That leaves you in quite a fix, wondering what you would rather do.
The thought of eating only for the food to come out can be tormenting. It gets even worse since you develop an aversion to some foods, such as caffeinated drinks like real tea and coffee.
In this case, you can rely on herbal drinks such as ginger tea. This tea soothes nausea and makes it easier for you to enjoy foods that you otherwise would not have. Some people have a hard time drinking tea while hot. If that describes you, taking iced tea would be a great idea. You can look into other beverages as well, such as lemon balm.
Note that not all teas are suitable for consumption during the first trimester, especially if you are at risk of a miscarriage. Stay away from chamomile and peppermint teas, unless your doctor advises you otherwise.
One of the reasons people enjoy tea in large amounts is the presence of antioxidants. People want to have these free-radical-fighting nutrients in their bodies, boosting their immune systems. They have also been shown to fight some types of cancer.
Now, during pregnancy, you tend to need these naturally-occurring substances even more. You see, the placenta works in removing waste products from the body.
Studies show that you need antioxidants for this removal to take place. And where you lack enough of these nutrients, you can suffer effects such as a miscarriage.
Now, the good thing is that you do not have to take tea to get these antioxidants. They are present in other foods as well. But you can choose tea as your primary source as it has a hoard of these.
Plus, it has other nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and calcium—these work in boosting the immune system, keeping you and the baby safe from some diseases.
As you drink the tea, try to do so without adding any additives to it. Some studies have indicated that the use of milk and other such additions takes away from the nutrient content.
4. Labor Prep
While many women enjoy the pregnancy, they dread the moment in which the baby will come out. It is not that they do not want to have the baby, but they can imagine the pain they will have to endure.
It gets worse if they have heard what their friends have gone through in the labor ward. Well, tea can help a lot with this as it can tone the uterine muscles. You will need these as you push the baby out.
The more efficient the contractions are, the shorter the period you will labor. Not all teas can help with this. You are better off going for cinnamon and red raspberry leaf teas for this benefit.
Pregnancy comes about with many concerns, and this can bring on added stress and anxiety. You thus need to find a means through which you can relax; else, you can harm the baby’s health. Tea has proven to have a soothing effect on its consumers.
From its scent to its taste, there is a lot you can enjoy. If you find that tea calms your nerves, you can enjoy a cup or two now and then. That will make your pregnancy much more enjoyable.
Concerns about drinking tea during pregnancy
As much as tea has many benefits during pregnancy, there are concerns as follows:
If you go for real tea, you will likely consume caffeine, even if it is a decaf option. Medical professionals insist that tea consumption should not exceed 200 mg of caffeine in a day. A cup of black tea can give you as many as 90 mg of caffeine.
The problem is that you will not get caffeine from this source alone. Thus, even if you stick to two cups, you may still go over the limit owing to other sources such as candy bars. And this can have adverse effects on the body.
Decaf options also have some caffeine in most cases. And you can still go over the limit by downing many of these per day. You need to be careful when choosing teas for consumption during pregnancy.
2. Limited Research
You will come across many teas which offer to ease your pregnancy journey. But here is the thing. Many claims are just that – claims. They have no scientific facts to back them up and result from beliefs compounded over the years.
As such, it is up to you to do some research before trying any tea. And always check with your doctor before drinking anything that can pose a risk to your health.
3. Some teas are not recommended during pregnancy
Not all teas are safe for use during pregnancy, more so the herbal kind. While most people tend to go for these to embrace natural products, they could be harmful. Pregnant women should generally avoid cohosh, rosehip, chamomile, earl grey, licorice, dandelion, yellow dock, dong quai, and nettle teas.
While on this, you should also steer clear of detox teas as well as other blends suited to relieve PMS symptoms or otherwise. Anything that promises to help you lose weight, ease menstruation, or other such effects is a NO.
Most of these products contain ingredients that can harm you and the baby, including diuretics and laxatives.
It also helps to check the label. You can find warnings that state that pregnant women should not consume the teas.
Some teas are not organic and could be full of arsenic and pesticides, which can harm you. If you decide to take tea, opt for organic brands. They may cost you more but will protect you in the long run.
Also, check with your doctor as to your caffeine limit, which should be 200 mg or less. And as for which teas are safe, go for real tea, red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, and ginger root teas. Have a safe pregnancy!