Some Herbal Teas Might Be Unsafe During Pregnancy

One thing I haven’t been able to give up during this pregnancy is my morning cup of tea. My English in-laws send me boxes and boxes of P.G. Tips black tea several times a year and, cliché as it might sound, that warm drink in a favorite mug helps me ease into each day with a smile.

I’m not dependent on the caffeine so much as the ritual (and, okay, the taste), so although I’ve switched to decaf for the time being, I still felt a little guilty I wasn’t able to go cold turkey and stick to naturally caffeine-free herbal teas, since the jury’s still out on how caffeine affects developing fetuses.

But then, while researching solutions to common pregnancy sleep problems (for Mom365’s new Healthy Pregnancy Guide! check it out!), I read something I hadn’t seen before: that some herbal teas should actually be avoided during pregnancy. Am I the last one to hear about this, or is it news to you too?

In most cases, the issue isn’t that certain herbs are unsafe for pregnant women and their unborn babies but that they haven’t been FDA approved as safe. Here’s the rundown, from the American Pregnancy Association:

Likely Safe

  • Red Raspberry Leaf Rich in iron, this herb has helped tone the uterus, increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains. There is some controversy about whether this should be used throughout pregnancy or just in the second and third trimester, so many health care providers remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester.
  • Peppermint Leaf Helpful in relieving nausea/morning sickness and flatulence.
  • Lemon Balm Has a calming effect and helps relieve irritability, insomnia, and anxiety.
  • Ginger root (possibly safe): Helps relieve nausea and vomiting.

Possibly or Likely Unsafe

  • Nettles (Stinging Nettles) High in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and iron. Used in many “Pregnancy Teas” because it is a great all-around pregnancy tonic. (*Note on the safety of nettles: the Natural Medicines Database gives nettles a rating of “Likely Unsafe,” even though it is used in countless pregnancy teas and recommended by most midwives and herbalists. This may be in relation to which part of the nettles plant is used, the root or the leaves, and how much is used. According to other sources, the use of nettles is encouraged during pregnancy because of all its health benefits.)
  • Alfalfa Has Vitamin A, D, E and K; particularly good in later pregnancy to boost Vitamin K, which helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Yellow Dock Used to help treat anemia in pregnant women due to the high level of iron. Also contains Vitamins A, C and calcium. (This may also be used as a laxative – talk with your health care provider about the use of yellow dock during pregnancy.)

Insufficient Safety Data

  • Dandelion Rich in Vitamin A, calcium and iron; dandelion root and leaf can also help relieve mild edema (a form of swelling) and nourish the liver.
  • Chamomile (German): High in calcium and magnesium, also helps with sleeplessness and inflammation of joints.
  • Rose Hips Very good source of Vitamin C and helps boost the immune system.

Other options to look into if you’re as much a fan of tea as I am

Do you drink tea during your pregnancy? What’s your favorite?