In a standard model of care, it’s not uncommon for practitioners to advise pregnant women to avoid drinking herbal tea. But the truth is, most herbs are safe for consumption during pregnancy. Most providers simply aren’t trained in herbs and can’t properly advise women on exactly what is safe, so it’s easier to tell them to stay away for liability reasons. Don’t be so quick to shun herbs altogether, though. They actually have tons of benefits that can help nourish pregnant women and their growing babies. If proper caution is given, they should absolutely feel free to consume a variety of pregnancy-safe teas and herbs while pregnant or nursing. After all, herbs are amazing and only a very few numbers should be avoided completely.
Here’s what you need to know about what herbs and teas are safe in pregnancy or while nursing.
While few teas are not safe to drink during pregnancy, some have great benefits. Red raspberry leaf tea helps tone the uterus and shortens labor. Pregnant moms can begin drinking it in the second trimester and can safely drink 1-2 cups daily. While the worry is that red raspberry leaf tea could induce early labor, there is no evidence of that claim. Date tea has also been shown to help shorten labor. Ginger tea is another great tea to drink during pregnancy and can also help ease morning sickness.
Other wonderful, nurturing teas include chai, chamomile, and passion fruit. Spearmint, dandelion, nettle, fecundi (which means “fertile”), and alfalfa are highly medicinal. These teas contain important nutrients (especially during pregnancy, when the body needs extra support) like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. Valerian root tea, which is known to help with getting a restful night’s sleep, is another that is frequently deemed unsafe for pregnancy because it can be a powerful herb. But especially during the third trimester, when sleeping becomes difficult, this tea can be helpful. Certain medical conditions can rule it out, but if you have no preexisting or pregnancy conditions, there can absolutely be a place for this tea during pregnancy.
What to stay away from?
While very few teas should be ruled out altogether, many teas contain caffeine and those should be limited during pregnancy to one cup per day. Licorice root tea should also be limited to small amounts because it is contraindicated in pregnancy. Sage and parsley tea shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy or nursing as it can dry up milk. However, when you’re weaning your baby, it can be a very helpful natural remedy to aid in the gentle slowing of milk production.
It’s important to remember that during pregnancy, most things are fine in moderation. But it’s never a good idea to use too much of anything, even teas that are deemed safe. Sticking to the 1-2 cups a day for all the pregnancy safe teas is a great rule of thumb. As always, make sure you’re eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and drinking plenty of water. Teas are wonderful to help support your organs during pregnancy, but you aren’t trying to detox your body. Moderation is the key when it comes to using herbs during pregnancy, so make sure you aren’t overdoing it. And of course, if you aren’t sure, always ask a qualified care-provider who has a background on herbs, natural medicine, or do some digging yourself, finding evidence-based research to help guide you. For more information, Aviva Romm is a wonderful resource on all things herbs, and so much more.