Pregnancy: Coffee, tea, and herbal teas

Pregnancy: Coffee, tea, and herbal teas
Coffee and tea are not prohibited during pregnancy, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount of caffeine consumed per day.


Getting enough fluids during pregnancy is essential. Pregnant women are advised to drink 2–3 litres per day. Drinking fluids throughout the day ensures good hydration and helps flush out waste products from the mother and baby through urination. In combination with a diet rich in fibre, fluids also help prevent constipation.

Water is the ideal drink during pregnancy. Fruit and vegetable juices, broths, soups, and milk also contribute to the mother’s total fluid intake. However, caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks should be limited or avoided. As for herbal teas, certain plants are contraindicated for pregnant women.

Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system of the mother and the fetus. Too much caffeine can cause heart palpitations, nervousness, and sleep disturbances. Sometimes, pregnancy makes women more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. In addition, excessive caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

Coffee and tea

While coffee and tea are not prohibited during pregnancy, their consumption should be limited. Women are recommended not to exceed 300 mg of caffeine per day, regardless of the source. For example:

It’s best not to drink tea or coffee during or immediately after a meal. They contain substances that interfere with the absorption of iron and calcium.
  • One cup (about 250 ml) of filter coffee contains an average of 179 mg of caffeine
  • A 30 ml espresso contains 30–90 mg of caffeine
  • One cup (about 250 ml) of black tea (from a tea bag) contains 50 mg of caffeine
  • One cup (about 250 ml) of green tea contains 30 mg of caffeine

Be wary of large drink sizes sold in coffee shops. Some can hold up to 600 ml of coffee, far exceeding the amount of caffeine recommended during pregnancy.

Soft drinks and chocolate

In addition, pregnant women should watch their soft drink and chocolate intake, as these also contain caffeine. For example:

  • A 355 ml can of cola contains 36–50 mg of caffeine
  • A 28 g piece of milk chocolate contains about 7 mg of caffeine
  • A 28 g piece of dark chocolate contains 3–23 mg of caffeine

Energy drinks

In Canada, as of 2013, the maximum amount of caffeine that an energy drink may contain is 180 mg per 591 ml or less. However, some products still available in convenience stores may exceed this limit. Plus, energy drinks purchased online may contain higher doses of caffeine, as imported products don’t necessarily comply with Canadian regulations.

Regardless of their caffeine level, Health Canada advises pregnant women not to consume energy drinks. In addition to caffeine, some contain natural products such as ginseng and taurine, whose effects on pregnant women are not known.

Wine and beer?
Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy, as it crosses the placenta easily and can harm the baby. A baby’s brain and nervous system are especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy can have serious consequences depending on the amount of alcohol ingested: stunted growth, learning disabilities, intellectual deficits, etc.
To learn more, read our fact sheet on pregnancy and alcohol consumption.

Herbal teas

If you’re in the habit of drinking herbal teas, caution is advised, as evidence on the safety of ingesting certain plants during pregnancy is limited. Some are beneficial for pregnant women, such as ginger for relieving nausea and raspberry leaves for toning the muscles of the uterus, but others can jeopardize a healthy pregnancy.

Here are the main plants to avoid during pregnancy:

  • Because they stimulate the uterus: spearmint, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)—not to be confused with the commercially available German chamomile—senna leaves, cascara sagrada, bearberry, hoarhound, aloe, juniper berries, Labrador tea, and goldenseal.
  • Because they can have a hormonal effect: sage, licorice, Chinese angelica, black bugbane, hemp (chaste tree), ginseng, and Siberian ginseng (eleuthero).
  • Because they can prolong bleeding: Ginkgo biloba and Chinese angelica.
  • Other plants to avoid during pregnancy: buckthorn bark, coltsfoot, comfrey, duck roots, lobelia, and sassafras.

According to Health Canada, the following herbal teas are safe as long as you don’t have more than 2–3 servings per day:

  • Citrus zest
  • Orange zest
  • Fresh ginger
  • Lemon balm
  • Linden flower (except for women with heart problems)
  • Rose hip

Things to keep in mind

  • During pregnancy, it’s important to limit caffeine consumption.
  • Pregnant women should avoid energy drinks.
  • Some herbal teas are contraindicated during pregnancy.

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Scientific review: Alexandre Chagnon, pharmacist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Update: February 2020

 

Sources

Please note: Hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the information you’re looking for.

  • Public Health Agency of Canada. “The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.” www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
  • Mayo Clinic. “Healthy pregnancy.” www.mayoclinic.com
  • Dispensaire diététique de Montréal. “Est-ce dangereux de boire du café pendant la grossesse?” www.dispensaire.ca
  • Doré, Nicole, and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca
  • Larousse. Vous et votre grossesse. Paris, Éditions Larousse, 2002.
  • Best Start and Nutrition Resource Centre. Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby. 2012.
  • Ruby, Françoise. “Suppléments : un plus pour maman et bébé.” Protégez-vous, August 2012, p. 12.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada. “Caffeine and pregnancy.” www.canada.ca
  • Health Canada. “Caffeinated energy drinks.” www.hc-sc.gc.ca
  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Partir du bon pied. Mississauga, Éditions Wiley, 2010, 235 pp.

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