Green tea is one of the most popular beverages around today. Green tea is very beneficial to someone’s health, but is it safe when one is pregnant? Opinions differ on the subject. There are a few studies that have raised red flags, but more research needs to be completed.
One major issue with green tea and pregnancy is the amount of caffeine in green tea. Caffeine is not recommended during pregnancy since one of the main concerns is caffeine intake during the gestational month that can increase the risk of miscarriage and other problems for both the mother-to-be and the baby, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Green tea usually has at least 15 milligrams of caffeine. Women who can’t give up their green tea during pregnancy are urged to talk to their doctor. Since 15 milligrams is a small amount (compared to coffee, which has 100 milligrams a cup), doctors may allow the mother-to-be to have green tea. Doctors have even allowed some women to drink at least three cups of green tea a day. If caffeine is a big concern, there is always decaffeinated green tea. One should remember that non-herbal teas have caffeine and antioxidants. However, herbal teas do not have caffeine or antioxidants since fermentation does not occur.
Women with child need folate in their diets. Folate, or folic acid, is important to women even before they decide to have a baby because it helps prevent the possibility of neural tube birth defects with the baby such as spina bifida. Spina bifida happens when the neural tube, which is around the central nervous system, does not close completely. This condition usually happens when one is deficient in folic acid. One study has linked neural tube defects in babies to women drinking lots of green tea at the time of conception. There still is much research needed in this field to determine if women who are considering getting pregnant should be drinking green tea. Some even maintain that even drinking one cup a day still gives mothers the chance to reap the benefits of green tea but won’t affect the folate a mother needs.
Teas are often the source of nutrients such iron, calcium and magnesium. Since the minerals iron and calcium are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy, it may seem that drinking green tea could be OK. However a study has stated that absorption of these minerals may be affected by oxidation status and/or compounds in the green tea.
A benefit of drinking green tea while pregnant is that it regulates the body’s blood sugar levels. Pregnant women are at high-risk for gestational diabetes, which in turn can cause the baby to have high blood sugar. Babies with high blood sugar can have macrosomia or excessive birth weight and are at risk for breathing problems, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes. Other benefits include the following:
- Green tea lowers cholesterol, which is helpful since the mother-to-be is eating for two!
- Green tea helps the immune system, which helps the mother ward off colds, cancer and infections.
- Green tea helps one have healthy gums. Pregnant women usually suffer from periodontal gum disease.
If you are pregnant or planning on having a baby, take note that the few studies conducted on the safety of green tea and pregnant women are also too few for experts to make a conclusive stand. Doctors and dietitians still maintain that drinking green tea in moderation is a safe bet. Still not sure whether you should drink green tea while pregnant? The best way to ease your concerns is talking with your doctor. Your doctor knows your medical history better than anyone else and will help keep you and your child healthy during the course of your pregnancy. You’re only pregnant for nine months — green tea will be around after you have your child!