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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tea time?

Something I have missed during my pregnancy is a hot cup of tea. Especially because I am no longer a coffee drinker, I miss the warm feeling of settling in with a hot mug and feeling the warmth flow down my throat and into my belly.
Now, I haven't stopped drinking tea because it's necessarily "bad for you". I mainly stopped for the following reasons:
  1. During my first pregnancy and in my first trimester of this pregnancy it caused me to become nauseous and toss my cookies more than once. I took it as a sign that my body wanted nothing to do with it.
  2. I do not like the idea of taking in too much caffeine. Caffeine does cross the placenta, your baby cannot metabolize it, and there are no conclusive studies to tell us how much is "safe" for the baby. I limit my caffeine intake to chocolate.
  3. Many herbal teas (especially in tea shops or loose teas) have a mix of all different kinds of herbs, some of which are not recommended when nursing or pregnant. Since I feel uncomfortable with my limited knowledge of herbs to know which herbal teas are okay/not okay to have during pregnancy, I have been skipping it.

One type of tea, however, has peaked my interest because of it's claims of healthfulness in pregnancy: Red Raspberry leaf. So I decided to do a bit of research and see what I could find. Here is the general gyst of what I found:

  • The consensus is that Red Raspberry tea can be used as a "uterine tonic" and that it stimulates the uterus to contract and tone itself to prepare for labor/birth.
  • However, there is controversy as to when to begin drinking it. Many believe drinking it too soon (1st trimester) can cause miscarriage, while others believe toning the uterus earlier will help to have an easier labor/birth from a stronger uterus.
  • The conservative approach is to start drinking it later in the pregnancy (some say 3rd trimester and some say when you reach 36 weeks).
  • Be careful of other herbs found mixed in with the red raspberry leaf teas, as they can be unsafe for baby.

One day in Whole Foods, I saw the Yogi brand "Mother to Be" tea and I inquired with my midwife (since it contains red raspberry leaf tea). While the package doesn't mention the controversy, my midwife advised that I wait until later in my pregnancy to take it. Upon further investigation, I found that some of the herbs are listed as "unsafe for pregnancy" like stinging nettles, is actually found in the Mother to Be tea. So you really do need to be careful with these herbal teas, even the ones that are marketed towards expectant mothers!

So, if you do decide to start drinking herbal teas. I do recommend that you talk to your health care provider about it, let them know what you are drinking/how much/etc, and make sure you are doing the best for your body and situation. Resources for herbal teas and safety during pregnancy:

Unfortunately the lack of tea will not stop when the baby is born. There are herbal teas that affect your baby when nursing (e.g. feverfew can increase baby's heart rate, goldenseal can be toxic) and some that can affect your milk supply (mint, sage, parsley can lower your milk supply). Seems scary to me, so I just leave them on the shelf. So just BE CAREFUL at tea time and maybe opt for some hot water with lemon.

In health and wellness,

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