I have big news to share today. I have already begun telling my family, friends and my clients this week....John and I are expecting our first child together! We had a scan Tuesday to confirm that our baby has a strong heartbeat and is growing well. So far I have been very lucky, not much nausea, just very tired. My energy levels are beginning to increase, but that could be due to my much earlier bedtime lately. John gave me a FitBit for Christmas "to help me have a healthy pregnancy" and I love checking how much sleep I have gotten.
One of my good friends has been a fantastic help and given me lots of advice. I had no idea that caffeine intake should be limited and that not all herbal teas are safe to drink. That explains her huge collection of herbal teas!
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Why? According to this study. “Caffeine is rapidly absorbed and crosses the placenta freely. After ingestion of 200 mg caffeine, intervillous blood flow in the placenta was found to be reduced by 25%.” Research found that caffeine consumption (over 200 milligrams) is associated with reduced birth weights and caffeine from coffee led to an extended pregnancy! Caffeine may also interfere with the absorption of folic acid, that essential nutrient for preventing neural tube defects like spina bifida.
So if you are a coffee addict consider limiting yourself to maximum one cup a day and use that as your caffeine allowance.
We all know coffee contains caffeine, but which tea contains caffeine?
True tea is made from the leaves of an Asian evergreen known as Camellia sinensis. Black tea (60-90 mg), oolong tea (50-75 mg), green tea (35-70 mg), white tea (30-55 mg) all come from this plant, and all contain caffeine (measurements are per 240ml cup). One other is Yerba Maté (35mg), a herbal tea that does contain caffeine. Black pu'erh (60–70 mg) and green pu’erh (30–40 mg) are aged and fermented tea.
Tea is so good for you, it contains polyphenols to protect the heart, nutrients that boost the immune system and filled with antioxidants, naturally occurring chemicals that can help stave off cellular damage. If you must have a cup, consider choosing white tea, it has the lowest amount of caffeine per cup.
Herbal infusions are not tea, per se, as they do not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant and do not have any caffeine. Herbal tea is an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots, or bark, in hot water. In drinking a well-steeped herbal infusion, we get all the plant’s benefits in an easily digestible form. The infusion of various herbs provides medicinal benefit to the tea drinker. As with anything else in pregnancy, it's best to practice moderation as they have a concentrated infusion of the herbs.
Benefits Of Drinking Herbal Tea During Pregnancy:
Herbal teas hydrate you when plain water is unappealing and provide easily assimilated nutrients. They are also packed with antioxidants. Different herbal teas can also reduce morning sickness symptoms, lower anxiety and stress levels and even prepare the uterus for labour!
Remember that every pregnancy is unique just as every individual is unique. Before consuming any of these herbal teas, consult your care provider or a good herbalist to check if they are suitable for you. Some herbs can negatively interact with medication, raise or lower your blood pressure etc. If you are still concerned, avoid drinking herbal teas during the first trimester and try one cup at a time.
Herbal teas which you can enjoy while expecting:
I have linked my favourite teas below, all from Lily's Tea Shop. They are made locally in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth. I love them! You can see all of their herbal infusions here. I treated myself to a selection of their loose leaf teas.
Red Bush tea is native to South Africa. This tea is great during pregnancy. It is caffeine free, contains magnesium, calcium and a high antioxidant content. Rooibos tea, unlike other teas, actually helps your body absorb iron, an essential mineral for pregnancy and also has positive effects on digestion and can ease colic and reflux. Children can drink Rooibos, unlike other teas. It has a delicately sweet flavour and it is lovely with a dash of milk and a little honey.
This “belly-friendly” tea is a great tea to add to anyone’s cabinet. Ginger (tea) is not only great for women during pregnancy, but it is also an effective remedy for colds and sore throats as it helps to clear up congestion. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It helps the process of digestion, eases nausea and indigestion, making it the perfect drink for women suffer from morning sickness.
You can make your own ginger tea by grating a small piece of ginger root and placing it in a cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to sit for several minutes before drinking. Try it with a little bit of honey and lemon, especially if you are feeling a little under the weather. You can consume up to three cups per day.
Chamomile tea is made from the dried flowers of the chamomile plant. Chamomile is a good source of calcium and magnesium. Chamomile is known for it's calming effect, reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. It also helps with inflammation of joints. It is the perfect relaxing beverage.
To make chamomile tea pour 1 cup water over 3 tbsp. of dried chamomile, then allowing the mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
Chamomile tea is fine as long as there is no history of hayfever. You’d need to drink a huge amount to have any issues.
Has a calming effect and helps relieve irritability, insomnia, and anxiety.
An ancient herbal remedy, peppermint has been used in different civilisations for various stomach issues. Peppermint tea is made from the dried leaves of the peppermint plant and has a fresh, uplifting and slightly sweet flavour. It is high in potassium, and a good source of manganese, copper and vitamin C.
Peppermint is soothing and relaxing as it helps calm and relax the stomach muscles. This can relieve nausea/morning sickness, indigestion, heartburn, wind and bloating. It helps to break up congestion in the chest or nasal passages making it a natural way to treat colds during pregnancy.
Drinking a cup before bedtime, will alleviate muscle tension, helping you to sleep better.
Rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, calcium, potassium and iron. Also a source of folic acid. It is high in potassium and has a gentle but effective diuretic effect. This can be a wonderful help late in pregnancy when water retention and swelling is an issue.
Dandelion leaf has a slightly bitter, grassy taste, it can be easier to drink brewed with another tea.
Stinging Nettle Leaf:
This “weed” is filled with so many benefits, it is in countless pregnancy teas and recommended by most midwives and herbalists. It is a good tea to drink postpartum as it aids in the production of breast milk. It is high in vitamins A, C, K, magnesium, calcium, iron and chlorophyll, which are all essential minerals to ingest during pregnancy.
It also helps with numerous stomach issues like IBS and other ailments such as arthritis, asthma, allergies, anaemia and even prostate health in men. It helps ease leg cramps.
If you want to try nettle tea, look for one that contains the leaf and not the root, and consult your caregiver before purchasing nettle tea as it is known for it’s stimulating effects during pregnancy, and for that reason, many herbalists recommend it alongside red raspberry leaf tea later in pregnancy. Stick to one cup a day.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Probably the most well known tea for pregnancy, red raspberry leaf tea is many times “prescribed“ by herbalists to pregnant mothers. It is believed to help strengthen the uterine muscle, allowing for more efficient labour.
The tea is high in calcium and magnesium, potassium, b-vitamins and iron plus, surprisingly enough, it also helps with skin problems such as eczema and allergies as well as gingivitis and gum disease.
Due to uterine stimulating abilities it is suggested to drink red raspberry leaf tea during the late 2nd and 3rd trimester and to avoid it during the first trimester. One cup per day from 24 weeks, then build up to two cups at 30 weeks, three cups at 36 and three to four cups from 37 weeks.
The following teas are two of my favourites but have not been 100% confirmed as safe during pregnancy. Before writing this, I have been drinking a cup of either before bed as they are natural sleep aids. I'm going to stick to Chamomile from now on. I'm including them as you may be interested in caffeine free teas in general.
Tulsi, commonly called "sacred" or "holy basil," Tulsi is a powerful adaptogen. In other words it helps the body to resist stress. It is also a natural sleep aid. Few herbs have gained such widespread recognition for their health giving properties. If you haven’t tried the delicious Tulsi yet, now is the time to give it a go. You may well experience improved mental and physical health.
Valerian is a natural sleep aid, it may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and help you sleep better. Only the carefully processed roots of Valeriana officinalis, are known to contain the most effective active compounds. Always check the box for the amount the tea blend contains.
I hope you have found this article to be helpful and you may grow to love herbals teas and experience their benefits like I do. Stick to the safe tea list and spend your pregnancy days in a tea-ensconced bliss!
Please share with your fellow expecting family and friends.
I am Emma McAtasney, founder of a boutique Pilates studio in Dundalk, Ireland. BASI trained Pilates instructor, BarreConcept instructor and prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist.
I developed my Belly Only Pregnancy Programme in order to provide a library of workouts for expecting mums to have access to throughout their pregnancy.
I love working with successful, courageous women from all over the world – like yourself – to give you clear, applicable information, support you in truly creating core strength, fall in love with your strong and healthy body and focus on living your best life!
Together, let’s create a lifestyle that gives us health and happiness for a lifetime!