Pregnancy-safe tea

Can pregnant women drink tea? And, if so, which teas are safe during pregnancy? Here's what to know.

woman holding a coffee or tea mug
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Can pregnant women drink tea?

Yes, drinking tea while pregnant is safe as long as you take some precautions. It's important to remember that black, green, and white teas all contain caffeine, and it can be easy to overdo that. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams per day. A cup of black tea has almost 50 milligrams, while a cup of green tea has about 25.

Herbal teas – despite having a health halo – aren't always safe for pregnancy. So, before you drink tea, be sure to calculate its caffeine content, and run any herbal teas by your healthcare provider.

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There are many reasons why you may want to reach for a cup (or two) of tea during pregnancy. It's a soothing way to stay hydrated, and tea itself is chock full of antioxidants that can help boost your immune system and even fight off cancer and heart disease.

Black tea is a good substitute for your morning coffee, especially if you're watching your caffeine, and if it's sugar that you're craving, some herbal teas may hit that sweet spot. There are many drinks you're advised to avoid during pregnancy – anything with alcohol or too much caffeine – so a cup of tea can be a good alternative.


Is it safe to drink herbal tea during pregnancy?

Some herbal teas are safe for pregnancy, and some aren't. Herbal supplements – which include teas – aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Only a few of the herbs used in teas have been studied in pregnant women.

Teas made from herbs like peppermint and ginger are considered safe to drink in moderation while you're pregnant or nursing. Just keep in mind that these herbs are more concentrated in teas than in food, so drinking them in excess may be harmful even if eating them isn't. That's why it's best to check with your provider before drinking any kind of herbal tea during your pregnancy.

What teas are safe to drink while pregnant?

The following teas are considered safe in moderation during pregnancy:

Ginger tea: Ginger is commonly used to ease morning sickness during pregnancy, and studies have shown it's safe and effective for this purpose. But there's also some evidence that it may negatively affect fetal sex hormones and increase the risk of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. So before you drink ginger tea, discuss its benefits and risks with your healthcare provider.

Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea is often used to calm an upset tummy during pregnancy, and it's considered safe. Be aware that it may not help with morning sickness: one study found peppermint oil aromatherapy, for example, didn't work any better to treat nausea and vomiting in the first half of pregnancy than a placebo. Peppermint tea has also been linked to heartburn, which is already very common in pregnant women.

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Green tea: Green teas, including trendy matcha teas, are considered safe to drink during pregnancy. They're also much lower in caffeine than coffee – about 25 grams a cup versus 100 grams. Limit yourself to less than three cups of green tea a day, though. Green tea is high in catechins, substances which can prevent your cells from fully absorbing folic acid. Your body needs plenty of folic acid during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects.

Black or white teas: these popular forms of tea, like green tea, are considered safe to drink during pregnancy. Just remember not to overdo it, as four cups of black tea, for example, will get you to your daily 200 mg caffeine quotient. Iced tea is often made from black tea, so keep that in mind as a source of caffeine.

Teas to avoid during pregnancy

Before pregnancy, you may have sipped a cup of chamomile tea to help you nod off. During pregnancy, it's not a good idea. Studies show that if you drink chamomile tea regularly, you may have a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, or low birth weight.

Other herbal teas to avoid if you're pregnant or nursing include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Black cohosh
  • Blue cohosh
  • Comfrey
  • Dong quai
  • Ephedra (called ma huang in traditional Chinese medicine and banned in the United States since 2004)
  • European mistletoe
  • Goldenseal
  • Hibiscus
  • Horehound
  • Kava
  • Labrador
  • Lemongrass
  • Licorice root
  • Mugwort
  • Nettle leaf (also called stinging nettle leaf)
  • Passion flower
  • Pennyroyal
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sassafras
  • Saw palmetto
  • Vetiver
  • Yarrow
  • Yerba mate
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This isn't a complete list, so always ask your provider whether a particular herb is safe to consume during pregnancy. Note: You can still eat food containing some of these herbs, like rosemary and sage, because the amounts used in food are generally much smaller than those used in tea – and not as potent. (The brewing process for making tea concentrates the chemicals in the herbs.)

What about herbal teas made for pregnancy?

The same cautions apply to teas made specifically for pregnant women and sold in supermarkets and health food stores. Although the makers of pregnancy teas promote their products as healthy for expectant moms, no clinical studies support these claims, and the safety of the ingredients isn't regulated.

Pregnancy teas usually include ingredients such as alfalfa, fennel seed, lemongrass leaf, lemon verbena, nettle leaf, red raspberry leaf, rose hips, and strawberry leaf. Not all these are safe to take during pregnancy. For example, nettle leaf (also known as stinging nettle leaf) stimulates the uterus and can cause miscarriage. Some midwives use raspberry leaf (also known as red raspberry leaf) to aid delivery, but its effectiveness hasn't been proven. It should be used only in late pregnancy under the supervision of a healthcare professional.


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Hallie Levine
Hallie Levine is an award-winning journalist who has covered health and wellness for more than 20 years. She lives with her three children in Fairfield, Connecticut.