Staying hydrated can feel like a chore when you’re pregnant, especially if you’re eliminating caffeinated drinks or sugary soft drinks in an attempt to care for the unborn baby. Drinking tea can be a refreshing way to satisfy thirst while absorbing tea’s healthful benefits. But tea terminology can be confusing, and not all teas are OK to drink when pregnant. Before reaching for a steaming mug of red tea, understand what “red tea” refers to since the phrase itself carries multiple meanings.
Red tea can refer to three different types of tea. In some countries, the phrase “red tea” refers to traditional black tea because of the reddish color of brewed tea. Because black teas contain caffeine, pregnant women should drink decaffeinated versions or avoid them completely, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Red tea can also refer to rooibos tea, a South African herbal drink that isn’t actually a tea but rather an herbal concoction. Another type of tea, red raspberry leaf tea, is considered to be OK for consumption during pregnancy. Pregnant women should proceed with caution when consuming herbal teas, including rooibos tea, since research hasn’t confirmed a safe maximum consumption level, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Consuming rooibos tea offers healthful benefits, since the herbal concoction offers antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium and copper, according to Mountain Rose Herbs. Red raspberry leaf tea contains iron, tones the uterus, increases milk production, decreases nausea and alleviates labor pains, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Use is recommended for the second and third trimesters only.
Drinking herbal teas can be harmful to your health when pregnant, according to BabyCenter.com. Herbs can have powerful effects, and not all herbs have been studied in research efforts involving pregnant women. Some risks involved with drinking herbal teas, including red tea, include stimulating your uterus and inducing miscarriage.
If you’d like to avoid consuming red tea during pregnancy, you can still choose from other herbal options thought to be safe for pregnant women. Acceptable herbal tea choices include peppermint, ginger, lime blossom, roasted barley, rose hips and thyme, according to BabyCenter.com. Drink these moderately when you’re pregnant or nursing.
In addition to consuming red tea only in moderation, protect your baby by avoiding herbal teas known to be dangerous to pregnant women. Examples of potentially dangerous herbal teas include anise, catnip, chamomile, European mistletoe, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage and sassafras, according to BabyCenter.com. Note that herbs may be considered safe for incorporation into foods, but the steeping process used to make beverages makes these herbs risky for pregnant women when made into teas.
Read labels for potentially harmful ingredients before steeping red tea while pregnant, since some tea blends incorporate multiple herbs. You might try skipping red tea altogether and make your own hot beverage with honey, fruit juice, lemon rinds, cinnamon or cloves added to hot water, according to BabyCenter.com. The American Pregnancy Association recommends talking with your midwife or doctor for ideas on safe herbal drink options.