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Tea, Pregnancy and Me

The Mamatini post (and subsequent commentary) sparked some memories from my own personal pregnancy beverage crisis. I was sick with a cold on a book tour when I first found out I was pregnant. I knew cold medicine was probably a bad idea. Since I am a big fan of herbal tea for various discomforts, so I made someone drive me to the nearest health food store.   I surreptitiously scoured the store’s copy of Wise Woman Herbal to see what I could drink while pregnant. All my favorites were out! Peppermint tea? Risky in pregnancy (yet strangely, an ingredient in Mother to Be Tea). Even seemingly innocuous chamomile is apparently questionable. The herbal book recommended raspberry leaf tea for pregnant women.  So I picked some up, pulled up the hotel armchair with a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and settled into my sanctioned herbal tea pregnancy. But before the cup had stopped steaming, I came across a bold box in the book warning me that raspberry leaf tea could cause miscarriage!

I panicked. Then I cried.  Then I came to a realization: What’s safe in pregnancy depends on who you ask.  Most herbal tea is considered just fine according to some, and too risky according to others.  The trick is figuring out which recommendation you want to listen to.

I’ve found that a lot of MDs get cagey anytime the word herbal comes up, if only because it’s outside their frame of reference. A midwife with some training in natural medicine might be more likely to have knowledge of an herb or tea that could cause a pregnancy risk. And you can always consult an herbalist. The second time around I was much more relaxed about mild herbal teas (and everything else). But I still tell this story whenever I talk to a pregnant woman who’s trying to figure out how to deal with all the clashing recommendations ringing in her ears.

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