As a naturopathic physician, I use herbs as medicine in a variety of ways, for example: to boost the immune system, ease an upset stomach, reduce stress, and to provide essential nutrients. Teas have been consumed safely in many cultures for thousands of years; however, whenever possible avoid using herbs in this way during your first trimester unless prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you are trying a tea for the first time or it is in your first trimester, start by using a small amount of the herb (1 tsp or less per cup of hot water) or by only steeping a tea bag for 10 minutes or less. It is important to make sure you are purchasing herbs and teas from trusted reliable sources to avoid adulteration and contamination. Because you are unique, it is hard to predict if an adverse reaction to a herb will occur, so as always please consult your healthcare provider when considering your favourite tea while pregnant. If you are not sure, it is probably safest to just avoid it.
Below are the top 10 teas I typically recommend to my pregnant patients – here's the same information in a chart if you prefer the format – these teas are generally considered safe during pregnancy.
Top 10 Tea’s that are Safe in Pregnancy
1. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Used for its high nutrient content preventing anemia and strengthening blood vessels to reduce risk of hemorrhage during labour
2. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This herb has calming properties and is a mild sedative, it also helps to relax the digestive system relieving bloating, gas, heartburn and constipation
Trimester: 1,2,3 (Note: Do not drink more then 1 cup per day in the first trimester)
A caution for those with environmental allergy to plants in the daisy family like rag-weeds as there is small possible risk of cross reactivity. If you are concerned, try steeping the tea bag for 10 minutes or less
3. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Prevention and relief from Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's), and rich in vitamin C
Note: If left untreated UTI’s in pregnancy can cause serious adverse outcomes, please consult your healthcare provider if you believe you are experiencing one
4. Echinacea (Echinacea spp)
Reduce duration or occurrence of colds, encourages the immune system especially at the onset of a cold
Trimester: 2,3 (Note: Do not drink more then 1 cup per day)
Avoid use if you suffer from certain autoimmune disorders, consult your healthcare provider
5. Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Ginger has a long history for preventing and relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy; however, your nausea or vomiting is severe, please consult your healthcare provider. This powerful herb also increases circulation and reduces symptoms of respiratory congestion
Trimester: 1,2,3 (Note: Do not drink more then 1-2 grams (5-6 slices) per day)
Add ¼ - ½ squeezed lemon and ¼ tsp of honey to make a warm soothing drink!
6. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Reduces tension, promotes digestion, and has anti-viral properties. If you have an underactive thyroid please avoid this herb
7. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
This nutrient rich herb can help strengthen blood vessels, preventing and treating varicose veins including hemorrhoids
Trimester: 1,2,3 (Enjoy 1-2 cups per day especially in the third trimester)
8. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Mint is a common digestive aid alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as nausea, gas and bloating while promoting relaxation generally
9. Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Many Moms to be may have heard about this popular herb. It is safe throughout pregnancy but most significant near the end of the third trimester to help tone the uterus in preparation for labour. It's astringent properties also help ease diarrhea
Trimester: 1,2,3 (Consume daily in third trimester to help prepare the uterus for birth)
10. Rooibos (African Red Bush - Aspalathus linearis)
A good caffeine-free replacement for black and green tea, especially in the first trimester, as it has a mild stimulating effect which can improve focus and energy. This herb is full of important antioxidants
This post includes my favorite recipe to recommend to pregnant patients during pregnancy and includes more information about caffeine intake during pregnancy. This Q&A also discusses drinking coffee and caffeine intake during pregnancy.
This Q&A lists teas that are not considered safe during pregnancy.