Herbal Teas During Pregnancy – Caffeine Free Alternatives to Coffee

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If you’re planning to try for a baby, or already pregnant, you’re probably familiar with the long list of foods and drinks which are on the ‘forbidden’ list! Sometimes it can seem like everything is out of bounds, but the truth is that it’s still possible to have a very varied, nutritious, and interesting diet.

It’s often recommended that those who are pregnant or trying to conceive, avoid caffeine—advice which can be devastating to those of us addicted to a morning tea or coffee! But having a break from caffeine can be helpful when trying to conceive1 and many women find that they don’t even want to drink coffee during early pregnancy, when the strong taste seems to make symptoms like morning sickness or nausea worse2.

You don’t have to be restricted to just water, however! There are many herbal teas and infusions which are a great alternative to black tea and coffee, some of which can even be beneficial to your health! Many come in a variety of yummy flavours so you can enjoy the delicious taste as well as the positive results to your health.

First things first: there are some ingredients to watch out for. In general, anything with black tea will have caffeine, which is something most pregnant women try to avoid. This includes chai , green, and flavoured black teas as well. Herbal teas or supplements can also be risky if they contain stimulants like guarana or betel nut, or herbs and extracts such as golden seal, black walnut, wormwood, tansy, or pennyroyal3. And of course, before trying any new herbal tea or supplement, check with your doctor or healthcare provider, to make sure that what you’re taking is safe for pregnancy. (An extensive list of herbal products to look out for is here )

Given that there is such a huge range of herbal teas and infusions out there on the shelves, what should you be looking for?

Here’s some ingredients and infusions to consider, with some notes on how they can be helpful:

For morning sickness and nausea: try infusions made from peppermint or ginger, or perhaps even cinnamon. These herbs have anti-nausea properties and can help digestion. Ginger and cinnamon can help to warm you up, while peppermint can help to cool you down. This can be helpful for those women who find that the surges in hormones during early pregnancy make it hard for them to regulate their body temperature4.

To help with low energy: try rooibos tea, which not only contains antioxidants, but can also be drunk with milk, which makes it a good substitute for regular, caffeinated tea5.

To energise and refresh: Nettle tea, which contains many nutrients and vitamins—important for those women who might find their limited diet due to nausea is leaving them a little weak— will help you to recharge6.

To help with fluid retention, something many pregnant women struggle with, especially if heavily pregnant in the warmer months, try dandelion-leaf tea7.

For help in dealing with anxiety during your pregnancy, you might like to try lemon balm, which has a calming effect, or chamomile, which can be relaxing as well as helping to relieve associated insomnia and nausea8.

To prepare for childbirth, one of the most well-known herbs used in pregnancy, raspberry leaf, is considered to help promote uterine tone, and a shorter labour needing fewer interventions9.

There are also many pregnancy tea blends on the market, most of which contain herbs which are considered safe for pregnant women. If you’re at all concerned, it’s best to ask your doctor or health care provider about the safety of any of these products. As with everything you consume during pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to double-check, rather than worry about possible ill-effects. In general, however, herbal teas can be consumed in moderation, and hopefully the only effect will be that you will feel more comfortable, less nauseous, and have more energy! You might even find that you enjoy drinking herbal teas so much, that you keep them in your diet long after you’ve given birth. And why not? They taste fantastic, and many of the health benefits provided to you and your unborn baby while you’re pregnant are also great for maintaining good health, and form part of a balanced diet.

 

 References

    1. WebMed: 8ways to boost your fertility
    2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15219624
    3. http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/foods-to-avoid-when-youre-pregnant?page=3
    4. http://www.thepregnancyquestions.com/changes-in-body-temperature-during-pregnancy.html
    5. http://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/tea-during-pregnancy-teas-to-drink-teas-to-avoid/
    6. http://www.livestrong.com/article/440537-nettle-tea-benefits-and-warnings/
    7. http://childbirthsolutions.com/healthlifestyle-pregnancy/wise-use-of-herbs-and-vitamins-during-pregnancy/
    8. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/herbal-tea/
    9. http://www.pregnancy.com.au/resources/topics-of-interest/pregnancy/raspberry-leaf.shtml

Image:Vitalii Shastun

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