Green tea has been known to be a healthy drink. It’s believed to help lower risk of heart problems, ease digestion and improve concentration.
However, it contains caffeine. Many expecting moms are still not sure on what exactly is the safest amount intake of caffeine. There are actually no studies that have yielded reliable results in determining this. Such studies only support one recommendation: An intake of less than 200 mg a day.
So what are the things to consider when having green tea during pregnancy?
Effect on Mommy
People vary in tolerance with caffeine, so the change in caffeine intake may affect your body differently compared to another mom-to-be.
For some who are used to drinking caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee, they may experience migraines if they stop drinking abruptly. This is not helpful while pregnant, considering the morning sickness and pregnancy headaches we already have to deal with.
Studies have shown, however, that caffeine level lower than 200mg a day does not pose problems with pregnant women. In light of this, doctors recommend a caffeine intake of less than 200mg a day.
For every 8oz of green tea, depending on brewing time and brand, caffeine amount varies from 15mg – 80mg. On average it’s around 25mg – 40mg per 8oz. That’s about a cup. You may have at least 2 – 3 cups of tea a day if you’re not eating or drinking any other caffeinated foods and drinks.
Calculate your caffeine intake:
- Remember that caffeine is not only found in tea. You may also find it in coffee, sodas and chocolates. Consider the amount you get from other caffeinated foods and beverages when you are calculating your daily caffeine intake.
- Check the serving label. See how much caffeine is in the green tea you’re taking. If you like to start your day or calm yourself with a Starbucks Green Tea Frap or Teavana Iced Green Tea, ask your barista or go online to check the caffeine amount in each size. Grande actually still has a good amount within the recommended daily serving.
Caffeine is also considered to be a mild diuretic. This means it can add up to your trips to the bathroom. Pregnancy already causes you to urinate more often. While, it is not known to cause dehydration all alone, it’s recommended to take lots of other decaffeinated fluids such as water if you’re taking green tea. It’s already recommended to increase your daily water intake during pregnancy, so this should be easy for you.
Other than keeping you up to urinate, caffeine can gear up your adrenaline. This may add up to your pregnancy insomnia. Some women, however, who have developed tolerance for caffeine, may not experience this. Sometimes drinking coffee or tea actually helps with sleep rather than deprive them of it.
Lastly, women can have mild anemia during pregnancy. This is why you need to increase your iron intake. Certain components such as tannins in teas, including green tea can affect the absorption of iron. So, try not to drink tea with your iron supplement. Try to have at least a one-hour interval between your iron and tea.
Effect on Baby
Green Tea comes from leaves, which makes it non – herbal. Such teas are considered to be safer than Herbal Teas during pregnancy. Herbal teas are extracted from roots, berries, seeds and flowers. It should not contain any caffeine, however, because of lack of information on the contents in these teas, they may be unknowingly toxic for you and your growing baby.
Many moms do fear for miscarriage because of caffeine. During the first and third trimester is when pregnant women should watch out for factors that would cause early labor. The risk associated with miscarriage and birth defects is actually higher on Herbal Teas. ACOG suggests staying within the recommended amount lowers the risk of preterm birth or miscarriage.
The most important vitamin you need to take during pregnancy is folic acid. While there is not enough evidence to support that green tea can cause low birth weight or birth defects, there still is a relationship between said tea and folic acid absorption. Green tea seems to lower the absorption of folic acid, thus raising the question on its effect on the growing fetus.
Substantial amount of studies have shown that caffeine can cross the placenta. Remember that your baby hasn’t fully developed his or her metabolism. They will not be able to tolerate it as much as you can. It can cause sleep disturbance and increased fetal heart rate.
So is green tea safe?
Since it still has caffeine, though, try not to drink it too close to bedtime or even just a regular naptime. For example, it’s probably a good idea not to drink green tea in the afternoon unless you have a high tolerance for caffeine and actually need it to fall asleep.
Drinking coffee and tea when you have a risk for or already have gestational anemia may not be a good choice. If you can’t quit your regular afternoon tea, talk to your doctor about your iron and folic acid supplements.
What else should you know?
Decaffeinating your own tea is a myth. It takes a lot for tea or coffee manufacturers to decaffeinate their own products. Even then, it is not 100% free of caffeine.
Know that the longer the steeping time, the higher the caffeine content. Also, brew your tea in non – boiling water so you keep the important nutrients and antioxidants.
Caffeine comes out as soon as you start brewing, so to help ease your worry, you may also try dumping the first brew then drinking the second one or taking it cold.
If you do decide to quit caffeine all together, try looking into safe pregnancy teas or making yourself some healthy vegetable smoothies. This may even increase your strength and keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy.