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Drinking Green Tea during Pregnancy: Is it Safe or Risky?

By Edited Aug 15, 2016 1 0
pregnancy
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Pregnant women should always be conscious with what they eat and drink. This is mainly because any substances that crosses the placental barrier will reach the baby's bloodstream and would then be absorbed by your unborn child. If it is a harmful substance, the baby may develop birth defects, abnormalities or worse it can cause death. With that being said, in this article, you will find out if drinking green tea during pregnancy is harmful or not. 

Benefits of green tea

Green tea is infamous for its antioxidant and detoxifying properties. Why is this important? One primary reason for this is because free radicals are the most common cause of cancer. In addition to that, when oxidation occurs, cell and tissue damages may occur.  This will slowly cause havoc inside your body. Once it progresses, it can cause various diseases and abnormalities. For that reason, these two properties are highly beneficial to one’s general health. 

Another benefit a preganant woman can gain from green tea is to prevent blood clots. Most failed labors are due to blood clotting. With that being said, one way to lower the risks of endangering both your and your baby’s life is through green tea.

Lastly, this beverage is also known to balance both blood sugar and insulin levels. This is very essential for diabetic patients. But, what about pregnant women? In correlation to pregnancy, there is a specific type of diabetes that will only develop during pregnancy. This is very important because it is possible to pass this from mother to child. This condition is medically known as gastrointestinal diabetes. One may prevent this from developing and progressing by drinking this specific type of tea. 

a cup of tea
Credit: Peter Kratochvil

Side-effects of green tea

The main side-effect of drinking green tea during pregnancy is folic acid inhibition. Epigallocatechin gallate or simply EGCG is the reason for this deed. Pregnant women need adequate amounts of folic acid since this vitamin lessens the chances of birth defects. For that reason, vitamin B complex is mostly prescribed during pregnancy.

Another side-effect is highly related to its caffeine contents. Keep in mind that caffeine can cross the placental barrier. It acts as a stimulating agent for those who can completely metabolize it. But, what about babies or fetuses? They cannot metabolize this. If a certain chemical is not metabolized, it can cause toxic reactions. Furthermore, caffeine in large doses can cause undesirable side-effects such as frequent urination, nervousness and insomnia. For these primary reasons, beverages containing caffeine are not recommended for pregnant women. In regards to green tea, 1 cup has 45 to 50 mg of caffeine. Compared to coffee, this is minimal. So, is this amount of caffeine safe or risky for pregnant women?

Conclusion

Now that both the advantages and disadvantages are laid on the table, it is time for thorough deliberations. In medicine, it is often advised that “prevention is better than cure”. Medically speaking, caffeine is still caffeine no matter what beverage it is or the amount a specific beverage has. Remember, green tea’s health benefits are also available in other products that are caffeine-free. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect example of these products because they are also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. However if you’re a tea lover, it would be  best to consult your obstetrician for a detailed explanation of this subject. They may let you drink tea but only in minimal amounts.  Nonetheless, it is still strongly advised to avoid drinking green tea during pregnancy. 

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
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Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide
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(price as of Aug 15, 2016)
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