Earlier this week, I wrote about Why I Don’t Take Prenatal Vitamins. In it, I mentioned that one thing I do is drink a pregnancy tea blend.
Now, there are several different options when it comes to pregnancy tea. There are different brands that you can buy, or you can choose to blend your own. It’s important to be careful about the herbs that you choose to include, though, because not all are safe during pregnancy. It is wise to be cautious.
So what do you need to know about pregnancy tea?
First, let’s look at commercial brands. The major two are Traditional Medicinals and Yogi. These teas are proprietary blends, but are based largely on red raspberry leaf. They are supposed to be safe throughout pregnancy, but check with your doctor or midwife to make sure before choosing one (my midwife recommends this, for me). I drank Traditional Medicinals throughout my second pregnancy, mixed with more and more plain red raspberry leaf towards the end, until I was drinking only that in the last weeks.
Second, you can choose to blend your own — or purchase a specially blended one from a local herbalist. Both of these options are available to me, but I’ve chosen to blend my own. There are several herbs that are commonly used in these pregnancy teas.
Here is a list, with benefits and cautions:
Alfalfa: High in many vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin K and others (click the link for a full list). It decreases the likelihood of hemorrhage because of the vit K content. However, it can occasionally cause too much clotting and even lupus-like symptoms and blood clots, and some feel it is better off avoided in pregnancy (although my midwives recommend it, this is one that I personally skip). If you are at increased risk of hemorrhage or need to boost your vit K levels, talk to your doctor or midwife about including this one in the final weeks of pregnancy.
Red raspberry leaf: It contains a number of nutrients, including calcium, iron, and B vitamins (all crucial in pregnancy). It tones smooth muscles in the body, including the uterus, which makes contractions more efficient (and thus, labor may be easier/shorter). Some have found that it eases morning sickness (I experienced some of this effect). Typically, this is safe for use throughout pregnancy (and beyond; it may increase milk supply and reduce or eliminate menstrual cramps). However, there is some concern that in some women, it can cause contractions and therefore, miscarriage or preterm labor. Although this would be rare, some women are advised to avoid red raspberry leaf until their third trimesters.
Red clover: Rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and protein (among others). It is an excellent fertility herb. It also helps to boost milk production after baby is born. However, some believe it is not safe in pregnancy because it contains phytoestrogens, which can affect fertility and cause miscarriage in very large doses. Many do advise against its use; however herbal experts advise to use it. Talk to your doctor or midwife about this. (I do choose to use it, with no problems.)
Passionflower: A useful herb that promotes relaxation and calmness. There is some concern about its use in pregnancy (many mainstream sources say not to), but most herbalists feel it is safe in small doses, especially for women having trouble sleeping. (The concern is that it contains alkaloids that “could” harm the baby, but the levels are not higher than chocolate or tomatoes or other common foods.)
Nettles: It contains calcium, iron, and protein. It can increase fertility, reduce pain during labor, reduce leg cramps, and help prevent hemorrhage. It has also been shown to boost milk production. Very large amounts have occasionally been shown to cause miscarriage, so check with a doctor or midwife about the proper amount to use.
Oatstraw: This is a gentle, mild herb rich in calcium and magnesium. It promotes relaxation and calms the nerves (it’s even safe for children!). It can help prevent or heal yeast infections safely in pregnancy. It can help settle restless legs, too. It is considered completely safe even by cautious sources.
My blend is this: 4 parts red clover and red raspberry leaf (each), 2 parts nettles and oatstraw (each), and 1 part passionflower.
I am not an herbalist, doctor, or midwife. I am not recommending any of this to you. This is what, through my research and consultation with my midwives, I have chosen to do. This information is provided to you for informational purposes only. Not all herbs are safe for all women in all situations, so consult a trusted health professional before making any decisions.
Do you drink a pregnancy tea? Why or why not?
Top image by sundaykofax