Pregnancy and the postpartum period are supposed to bring you joy, right? Well, they also bring a slew of discomforts. It’s hard to feel joyful when you’ve got symptoms like swelling, hemorrhoids, and nausea! To make things worse, almost all traditional medicines are off limits. Luckily, there are solutions in the form of pregnancy herbal teas.
This guide will give you the lowdown on using herbal teas during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as which teas to avoid.
Are Herbal Teas Safe During Pregnancy?
Technically, “tea” is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. This includes green tea, black teas (like Oolong and Earl Gray), and white tea.
Herbal teas are not made from the tea plant. There are literally hundreds of different types of herbal tea. Thus, asking “Is it safe to drink herbal tea during pregnancy?” is akin to asking “Is it safe to eat food during pregnancy?” Just like how some foods need to be avoided during pregnancy, not all herbal teas are safe either.
However, there are many herbal teas which are safe and may even provide benefits during pregnancy. Plus, many experts advise switching from coffee or tea (which contain caffeine) to herbal tea. Even if there aren’t any direct benefits, drinking the herbal tea will help you stay hydrated while cutting back on caffeine.
Teas for Fighting Pregnancy and Postpartum Ailments
Here's a list of common pregnancy complications and ailments as well as the herbal teas which may help them. Some herbal teas have multiple uses during pregnancy so they may be repeated.
Morning Sickness Teas
The following teas can help aid digestion and help with morning sickness.
- Lemon balm
- Milk thistle
Most hypertension teas are not safe during pregnancy. However, these two can improve blood flow and relax arteries to help treat mild hypertension during pregnancy.
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Gestational Diabetes Teas
These two teas can help lower blood sugar levels naturally. However, they may not be safe to take if you are already on diabetes medicines – so check with your doctor before taking them! Also, cinnamon can reduce blood clotting, so you should be careful if you need to take blood thinners or may have a surgery (like a C-section) soon.
- Milk thistle
Calming Teas/Insomnia Teas
All of these herbal teas will help with sleeping nights and anxiety that comes with pregnancy. Make sure you avoid valerian tea since that one is not safe for pregnancy.
- Lemon balm
These teas have been shown to sooth the esophagus lining and help with GERD symptoms. Don’t expect any miracle cures – especially during the end of pregnancy when heartburn gets terrible – but these can help a bit.
Herbal Teas for Muscle Cramps
Most hemorrhoid teas are actually laxatives. They only help hemorrhoids by making stool softer so you don’t have to strain as much during bowel movements. However, laxative teas should be avoided during pregnancy. To ease pregnancy hemorrhoids, eat more fiber and consider switching to a prenatal vitamin without iron. These herbal pregnancy teas can help too.
- Mullein: Tannins in the herb’s flowers help to constrict hemorrhoid tissue so bleeding stops.
- Dandelion: This herb indirectly helps hemorrhoids because it stimulates bile production. Increased bile means stool is lubricated and softer so is easier to pass.
These teas contain vitamin C and other antioxidants which can help boost immunity and prevent you from getting sick while pregnant.
- Rose hips
Teas for Reducing Swelling
- Dandelion: Your best bet for reducing swelling during pregnancy is probably exercise. However, dandelion – which is rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin A – has been shown to relieve mild swelling.
- Raspberry tea: This is the ultimate herbal tea for pregnancy. Many studies have found that it can strengthen the uterus so contractions are more efficient. Drinking the herbal tea during pregnancy has also been shown to decrease the length of labor, likelihood of C-section, and other interventions.
Increased blood flow during pregnancy can result in annoying congestion. These herbal pregnancy teas can help.
- Peppermint (but stop drinking if you have heartburn)
- Blackberry: Avoid if you have pancreatitis, dyskinesia, or are oxalic-intolerant
These pregnancy teas can help fight fatigue because they contain nutrients like iron. If you are deficient in iron, your doctor will likely recommend that you take a supplement. Natural sources of iron are great for fighting fatigue though since they don’t result in constipation like supplemental iron can.
- Nettle leaf tea: Make sure the tea is from the leaves and not the root. It is also advised not to drink too much during the first trimester as it may be a uterine stimulant. It is considered safe in the second and third trimester.
Tea for Breastfeeding
These teas are mostly considered “galactagogues” – or substances which increase breast milk production. You can often find these teas mixed together in “breastfeeding tea” blends along with other herbs that promote relaxation.
Avoid drinking peppermint tea during breastfeeding as it hinders milk supply.
- Red raspberry leaf
- Fennel: Note that fennel tea is not advised during pregnancy
- Nettle leaf
- Goat’s rue
- Milk thistle
- Blessed thistle
Herbal Teas to Avoid during Pregnancy
There are a lot of herbal teas which women are advised to avoid during pregnancy. It isn’t necessarily that all of these herbal teas are “dangerous” during pregnancy (though some are). Rather, many herbal teas haven’t been studied so we don’t know whether they are safe or not. So, experts tend to play it safe and avoid using them during pregnancy.
As a general rule, avoid any of these herbal teas:
- PMS teas
- Detox teas
- Laxative teas
List of Herbal Teas to Avoid
- Black and blue cohosh (unless you are trying to induce labor naturally)
- Blue cohost
- Dong quai
- John’s Wort
- Licorice root
- Saw palmetto
- Pay D' Arco
- Passion Flower
- Roman Chamomile
Herbal Teas which May Be Unsafe during Pregnancy
- Evening primrose
- Kava Kava
What about Caffeinated Teas during Pregnancy?
Whether or not you should drink caffeine during pregnancy is highly controversial. Some experts say that you should avoid it completely, citing studies which show possible adverse risks.
Other studies have shown that consuming caffeine during pregnancy — even in amounts up to 325mg daily — does not increase risk of miscarriage or other issues.
The compromise is generally this: Drink no more than 200mg of caffeine per day.
Green and black teas generally contain about 40-55mg per cup. An 8oz cup of coffee contains about 95mg of caffeine.
Since herbal teas contain virtually no caffeine (some do contain 0.4mg), they won’t count towards your caffeine quota. They make a great substitute for coffee or caffeinated teas – just make sure you drink the pregnancy herbal teas which are safe!
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