Green tea has slowly attained the title of a wonder tea that has several health benefits. However, there are mixed opinions about the effects of consuming it during pregnancy. Some experts consider it to be useful for the health of the mother as well as the baby, while other studies have found the consumption of green tea in large amounts detrimental to the development of the fetus. As such, both sides of the coin have been presented here, for a vivid understanding of the effects of its consumption during pregnancy.
Benefits of Green Tea in Pregnancy
- Women are known to suffer from gum diseases during pregnancy. This can be cured with the intake of green tea as it has components that prevent inflammation. It also keeps the teeth healthy.
- It is possible that blood sugar levels may increase during pregnancy, because certain hormones that are released at this time make the body resistant to insulin, resulting in a case of gestational diabetes. The high blood sugar levels can put the baby at a risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Green tea has been found effective in controlling blood sugar levels, which makes it beneficial for consumption during pregnancy.
- Popular for the ability to ward off cancer (yet to be validated by thorough and in-depth scientific research), green tea is also useful to strengthen the immune system and keep away colds and other infections. As such, it is useful for the entire period of pregnancy.
- Pregnant women may be at a higher risk of developing cholesterol and blood pressure problems, because they have to eat for two. Green tea helps in regulating cholesterol and keeping high blood pressure at bay. Therefore, its consumption is advisable during pregnancy.
- Pregnant women are prone to stomach distension that results in indigestion. Green tea is known to be a natural cure for indigestion, thus, proving beneficial during pregnancy.
- Some women have even found that regular consumption of this tea has sped up their process of conception.
Adverse Effects of Consuming Green Tea During Pregnancy
- One cup of green tea (6 ounces) contains about 15 mg of caffeine. Pregnancy is not a time for the consumption of large amounts of caffeine as its effects on the unborn baby may be negative – it may result in low birth weight, miscarriages and still birth. Some studies have even linked consumption of excess caffeine with infertility and miscarriages. This means that consumption of green tea in excess during pregnancy can be dangerous.
- Excess consumption will make caffeine a part of breast milk which may be harmful for the baby.
- In some cases, excess green tea has been found to deplete folic acid, which is important for the sound development of the fetus, as it is meant to prevent neural tube defects in the first month.
- The antioxidants in green tea, though purportedly highly effective in preventing the risk of cancer and heart disease, are not helpful in the case of body folate, which is important for safe conception and pregnancy.
- If consumed in large amounts, the caffeine in green tea can reduce the absorption of iron from food and may affect the iron levels of both, the mother and the child.
- Studies have shown that it is safer to drink green tea in small amounts after the first trimester.
One may easily assume that since caffeine is the major component in the tea, and it will have an adverse effect during pregnancy, they may resort to the intake of decaf varieties. However, even decaf green tea may contain very minor amounts of caffeine. Thus, it is best to simply consume it in moderation – up to 1-2 cups in a day, so it can prove helpful without adversely affecting the health of the mother, as well as the baby. It is also important to monitor your intake of caffeine from other sources such as coffee or soda, which usually contain large amounts that can only be worsened when you consume green tea in large doses. If you are willing to give up on your regular cup of coffee and can of soda, experts suggest you may consume about 3-4 cups of green tea in a day.
Even so, it is essential that you confirm whether you can consume green tea during pregnancy, with your gynecologist, so that she/he may be able to give you the right advise regarding the same, and warn you about any side effects you may be prone to.