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Drinking Green Tea During Pregnancy: Is it safe?

Green tea is filled with antioxidants and nutrients that leave a positive impact on the body. Bioactive compounds such as polyphenol (an antioxidant), can help reduce inflammation and help fight cancer. Green tea also contains catechins which are antibacterial in nature. It is also shown to improve insulin sensitivity in a study and can improve blood sugar levels.

A 237ml cup of green tea contains about 24mg to 45mg of caffeine, depending on the brewing time and the brand of tea you choose. The same amount of coffee contains about 95mg to 200mg of caffeine. In other words, a typical cup of green tea contains less than half the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Can pregnant mothers drink green tea?

Yes, expectant mother can drink green tea during her pregnancy. However, take note that it contains caffeine and you are advised to consume it in moderation. Limit your intake to only 200mg of caffeine a day, which is about three or four cups of green tea. This 200mg limit should include all sources of caffeine though, like coffee, soft drinks, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate in your daily amount.

Are there side effects of drinking green tea while pregnant?

A research done shows that, drinking in moderation and keeping within the limit does not result in miscarriages, premature birth or low birth weight. However, drinking a large amount of green tea which is more than 3 cups per day may prevent the absorption of folic acid.

Folic acid is an important nutrient, particularly during the first trimester of your pregnancy as it helps to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. As green tea reduces the folic acid absorption, there are lower levels of folate in the mother’s system. So, less folic acid is absorbed by the placenta and thus, the baby is at a higher risk for having a neural tube defect.

Therefore , Malaysian healthcare is making every pregnant woman take folic acid vitamins in the first trimester. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin has been shown to reduce this possible risk in heavy tea drinkers.

Green tea also interferes with iron absorption especially from non-meat foods. So it’s best to  avoid green tea for one hour before and after taking the iron supplement.

Tips on drinking green tea while Pregnant

Here are a few things to remember while having green tea:

  • Do not drink on an empty stomach because green tea contains tannins that may cause acidity, further leading to nausea, constipation, and stomachache. It can also aggravate reflux if you already had it before.
  • Do not have it along with meals as it may dilute the gastric juices and hampers the absorption of iron from food.
  • Maintain a gap of at least two hours between meals and green tea.
  • Do not have more than two cups of green tea a day.
  • Do not drink green tea before bedtime or late afternoon as it might affect your sleep.

Can I drink green tea during confinement period?

Yes, green tea can be taken during confinement period. However, excessive amounts are not recommended. Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for 5 to 20 hours depending on your body so it can disrupt the normal sleeping pattern making your mood swings even worse.

Caffeine and tannic acid present in green tea can interfere with iron absorption – an essential mineral needed for the red blood cell formation. New mothers need to replenish the blood lost during birth delivery.

3. Can I drink green tea while Breastfeeding?

Yes, green tea can be taken by breastfeeding mothers. But bear in mind to take it moderately.

Breast milk contains less than 1 percent of the caffeine taken in by the mom. If you’re not drinking more than three cups, you should be OK.

American Academy Pediatrics found that after five or more caffeinated drinks , they start to notice the baby getting fussy. People’s metabolisms process caffeine differently. Some people have a higher tolerance for it than others, which can be the same for babies as well. It’s good to note the amount you drink and observe if you notice any changes in your baby’s behaviour based on your caffeine intake.

Takeaway : For moms who really need a her caffeine fix every now and again, it is doable. With a little planning, it is OK to have that larger serving or extra cup. Pump enough milk to store in the refrigerator or freezer for your baby’s next feedings.

After you have consumed something unsafe for your baby, you can ‘pump and dump’ for 24 hours. ‘Pump and dump’ means, pumping the milk and get rid of it. After 24 hours, you can safely resume breastfeeding.

Can my baby drink green tea?

Not recommended. Even though, there are no research showing any permanent or life-threatening side effects from drinking green tea, doctors do not recommend giving young children caffeine, and the same goes for babies. It is best to feed them breast milk or supplement with formula milk instead.

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