Before you get pregnant, you may already like to enjoy an infusion of plants, or you may have heard of them to mitigate some of the typical symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea or heartburn. There are a wide variety of herbal teas, but not all are recommended during pregnancy.
We tell you everything you should take into account about the consumption of infusions during pregnancy , how some can help you feel better and which ones you should avoid due to the risk they entail.
Infusions not recommended during pregnancy
Herbal infusions contain different properties that at any given time can help us relax, improve night’s rest, improve digestion or improve the circulatory system. But pregnancy is an especially vulnerable stage in which it is very important to watch what we consume, since certain foods , drinks or medicines could harm the baby.
When we talk about natural or plant infusions, it is important to bear in mind that they do not always have to be harmless for the body . In fact, if we stop to think, many poisons used since ancient times come from plants.
That is why the consumption of these infusions during pregnancy tends to be discouraged , some because their harmful effect is evident and others because there are not enough studies in this regard:
- Pennyroyal-mint : it is one of the most consumed infusions but its use is totally discouraged during pregnancy and also during lactation , as it contains a substance called pulegone that has an abortifacient and toxic effect on the liver, kidney and neurology.
- Sage, licorice and rosemary infusions can raise blood pressure, with the dangers that this implies for pregnancy . Licorice can also cause abortion and premature labor , and decrease milk production during the puerperium, which is why it is classified as ‘high risk’ on the e-lactation website .
- Green anise, star anise, sage, barberry and rhubarb can cause contractions in the uterus and trigger premature labor, as well as cause bleeding, as in the case of barberry. Some of these herbs such as star anise or barberry are also discouraged during breastfeeding as they are ‘unsafe’ and ‘very unsafe’, respectively.
- Among the herbs advised against due to their possible gastrointestinal effects , boldo (of ‘high risk’ also during lactation due to its liver toxicity) and eucalyptus stand out , which in addition to causing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea if consumed in excess, can cause bleeding ( is also ‘high risk’ while breastfeeding )
- There are also herbs that are discouraged due to their teratogenic effect in animals – that is, they cause malformations in the fetus. Such would be the case of echinacea , cascara sagrada and senna , as we can read on the Boticaria García website
- Other herbal teas advised against during pregnancy are lemon verbena (to stimulate the uterus), St. John’s wort , lavender , horsetail ( according to the e-lactation website a case of a possible relationship with autism has been described after prolonged use during pregnancy), turmeric (due to its possible abortifacient and neurotoxic effect), propolis , valerian (for which there is not enough evidence to guarantee a safe use), hawthorn , mate and passionflower and poppy (from’high risk’ also during lactation ) due to its high alkaloid content and liver-kidney toxicity.
And what about the tea? It is safe?
In general, during pregnancy it is advisable to moderate the consumption of tea (also during lactation), as it contains caffeine , a substance that is not recommended at this stage and which can influence the weight of the baby at birth , trigger premature labor or even increase the risk of abortion . In addition, normal tea could hinder the absorption of iron and folic acid , two essential elements for mother and baby.
Therefore, experts usually recommend an intake of no more than two cups of tea a day , as this amount would be considered safe and would not increase the risks during pregnancy . In any case, if you consume tea regularly and you have become pregnant, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or midwife whether or not to continue taking it during pregnancy.
Infusions allowed during pregnancy (in moderation)
Below we detail the infusions that would be allowed during pregnancy, as well as the effects they have on the body and how they could help the pregnant woman to mitigate some of the most frequent symptoms at this stage.
Infusions to combat intestinal symptoms
One of the most used infusions in these cases for its digestive properties is chamomile . According to the ECEMC (Spanish Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations), this herb does not seem to have risks during pregnancy, although among the possible adverse effects the exacerbation of asthma stands out, among others.
With regard to vomiting and nausea, it has been observed that they improve with the intake of ginger (which we can consume in the form of an infusion and in a moderate way), which also turns out to be a powerful antioxidant. It is also a good source of minerals such as selenium, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc, and vitamins, among which vitamin E and those of the B complex stand out, especially folic acid.
Also mint tea is considered effective against morning sickness, although it is very important to moderate your intake during pregnancy, as taken in excess could have adverse effects.
And finally we highlight another herb that although it may not be especially popular, its effects have been proven to combat constipation and hemorrhoids. It is plantago ovata , an infusion that consumed during pregnancy can help control these unpleasant discomforts.
Infusions that promote rest
More than 85% of pregnant women experience changes in their sleep pattern at some point during pregnancy. Some suffer insomnia and others may experience nervousness or anxiety that prevents their proper night’s rest.
Often, lemon balm is used to reduce stress and help better rest, but there are not enough studies to support their safety when consumed during pregnancy, so some experts tend to advise against it . The most advisable thing is that you consult with your doctor before taking it.
With regard to linden , another of the most used infusions to calm anxiety and promote rest, there is also some controversy about its safe use during pregnancy , as there are not enough studies in this regard. In general it is considered safe, in addition to that it could help fight cold symptoms and headaches, but again we recommend consulting with your doctor before taking it.
Infusions to trigger labor naturally
When the woman has reached 40 weeks of gestation but has not yet gone into labor, we can take a series of measures that help trigger the process naturally, and thus avoid induction.
The midwife Carla Quintana , founder of ‘Matrona for me’, gave us some recommendations in this article to induce labor naturally, and also pointed out certain infusions as a remedy that we can resort to , although she made it clear that there is no scientific evidence that they work , although consumed in moderation they do not entail risks for mother and baby:
” The infusions of raspberry and ginger leaf are also highly recommended to stimulate the uterus and generate contractions. There is no scientific evidence that they work, but since they do not have any risk for the mother and the baby, if we like it and we want to take it an infusion of this type does not happen at all to do it “.