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Storm in a tea-cup! Safeguards during pregnancy

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Dr Anita M, MD (Obs & Gyne), MNAMS, FICOG, FIMSA, FICMCH Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Max Hospitals, New Delhi    23 February 2023

Drinking tea is a very gratifying emotion, especially if its your favourite masala tea, at your favourite time and with your favourite book.

 

Traditionally, tea has been associated with healing, rejuvenating and energising properties. So even though 2-3 cups a day are considered beneficial for health and well-being, drinking more than this can have side-effects. During pregnancy, these side effects can be more pronounced and can be harmful to the pregnant woman and her developing baby.

 

Tea has caffeine and so excessive drinking of tea can lead to acidity problems. The pregnant uterus is more prone to cause acid reflux, which is further aggravated by caffeine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter. Caffeine also increases acid production in the stomach.

 

The tannins in tea can reduce the amount of iron absorbed in the body. With anaemia being extremely common in India, this becomes a concerning health problem for pregnant ladies.

 

Excess tea consumption can result in poor sleep quality and this is again due to caffeine in the tea. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to fatigability, irritability, poor blood sugar control and obesity. The last cup of tea should be had at least six hours before bedtime in order to have good quality sleep.

 

An average cup of tea contains 20-40 mg of caffeine and having excess tea can cause jitteriness, stress, anxiety symptoms and restlessness. All guidelines say that total caffeine intake in a day should not exceed 200 mg.

 

Last, but not the least, overexposure of caffeine from tea can cause unwelcome complications during pregnancy like nausea, heartburn, hyperemesis, gestational hypertension, miscarriage and low birth weight for your new born.

 

So its best to consume tea in moderation to have maximum health benefits and to avoid its harmful effects from overconsumption. If youre pregnant then prioritize your health and your babys health. Caffeine-free herbal teas are a good alternative, but not all herbal teas are safe to use during pregnancy. Talk to your obstetrician for more information on this.

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