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Pregnancy and Lactation Teas: Sorting Through the Confusion

Even if you have been very mindful before pregnancy about what you put in your body and the way you cared for yourself, being the vessel to nurture another life elevates your game to an entirely new level.

Always consult with your physician or healthcare provider regarding any dietary questions. These professionals know your circumstances best and can verify what foods and drinks you can enjoy and which ones you should avoid. One thing we found many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers enjoy is a warm cup of tea. Here are some of our favorite ingredients and how they might benefit you. 

A Word about Caffeine

Since caffeine is a diuretic and a stimulant (it can increase your blood pressure and heart rate) it has been the subject of much debate regarding if women should completely refrain from it, reduce intake or enjoy with no restrictions while pregnant. The March of Dimes recommends limiting your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams each day while you’re pregnant. This equates to either 1 ½ cups of an 8-ounce cup or one 12-ounce cup. Keep in mind that the amount of caffeine in tea can vary based on how it’s prepared and how long the leaves ferment, the brand and the type of leaves used. Again, go with the advice of your medical professional.

The most common types of non-herbal teas, where the tea derives from tea plants are black tea (40-75 mg of caffeine per 8-oz. cup), green tea (15-60 mg caffeine per 8-oz. cup) and oolong tea (50-75 mg caffeine per 8-oz. cup). Herbal teas are a blend of various leaves, fruits, bark, flowers or roots from any edible, non-tea plant and do not have caffeine unless they are blended with non-herbal teas. Be sure to read the labels so you know what’s in your tea.

A cup of tea, a book, a candle, and lavender on a wooden table

Here are some of our favorite ingredients to look for in pregnancy teas:

Red raspberry leaf

As the name suggests, it’s the tea leaves on the red raspberry plant that help make red raspberry leaf tea but, unlike what you might expect from the name, it doesn’t have a raspberry flavor and actually tastes more like black tea. It has been used for centuries to support uterine as well as respiratory and digestive health. It has been known to help:

  • Strengthen and tone the uterine wall
  • Ease labor pains
  • Decrease the length of labor and the number of interventions used

Red raspberry leaf has most of the vitamins and minerals the uterus needs to function properly such as vitamins C, E and A, magnesium, potassium, calcium, a variety of B vitamins and phosphorus. Most of the time, women wait to enjoy red raspberry leaf tea until the second trimester since it can stimulate the pelvic floor muscles.

Stinging nettle leaf

High in magnesium, iron and calcium, nutrition-packed stinging nettle is known to help with several stomach issues including constipation, bloating and IBS as well as non-pregnancy ailments such as allergies, arthritis and asthma. Look for a tea that includes the leaf and not the root. This is also an important ingredient in many mother’s teas since it aids in the production of milk. And don’t worry, the “stinging” portion of stinging nettle references the fine hairs on the leaves that release a chemical that irritates the skin.

Spearmint and peppermint leaf

Spearmint is slightly weaker in taste than peppermint but they are both great at relaxing your stomach muscles. They can help calm your stomach if you have nausea as well as relieve cramping and bloating from gastrointestinal issues. Another reason spearmint is often recommended for pregnancy is that it doesn’t increase reflux like peppermint can.

A cup of tea and herbs on a table

Rose hip

Rose hip is a very good source of Vitamin C so it gives your immune system a boost.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm helps to reduce anxiety and relieve irritability and insomnia and gives an energizing lemon flavor.

Ingredients to Avoid While You’re Pregnant

  • St. John’s Wort
  • Ginseng
  • Licorice root
  • Yarrow

Lactation Teas

Once the baby arrives, many mums find that certain teas can maintain or improve milk supply. It’s good to start off trying a small amount when you’re introducing a new herb tea and to learn what works best for your body. You should steep the tea 1 to 3 minutes for a weak version and 5 minutes or longer for a strong dose. While you can certainly make your own lactation tea with a variety of ingredients known to help with lactation including fennel, stinging nettle, alfalfa, anise, caraway, verbena and red raspberry leaf, there are also options you can purchase already blended for you.These teas promote relaxation and healthy milk supply.

Safety Guidelines

Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional or midwife to discuss the teas you’re interested in trying. As with most things in life, most teas are good in moderation during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s also a good idea to alternate between different types and flavours so you limit your exposure to any one plant chemical. Start off with small amounts and weaker versions of tea until you determine how your body responds and what works best for you.