It’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy. You should aim to drink about ten 8-ounce glasses of water per day (or about 2.3 liters) to support extra blood volume and healthy levels of amniotic fluid.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you may be looking for your best options. Staying away from sugary juices helps you maintain healthier weight and nutrition. Could green tea be a good solution for flavorful pregnancy hydration?
Benefits of Drinking Green Tea in Pregnancy
In moderation, green tea can be a healthy beverage to reach for when you’re pregnant. Green tea still contains caffeine, but only about 25-45 milligrams per cup, depending how strong you like it (compared to 90-200 milligrams of caffeine in coffee). Many doctors advise keeping total caffeine consumption under 200 milligrams per day, so green tea can be a way to get a little boost without maxing out your caffeine limit.
Green tea is also essentially calorie-free (there’s about 1 calorie per cup). Saving your calories for food can leave you feeling more satisfied than drinking sugary, high-calorie beverages, making it easier to gain a healthy amount of weight.
Finally, green tea has a bit of vitamin C and a ton of antioxidants, substances that prevent or lower damage to cells by removing a cellular waste product known as “free radicals.” Consuming antioxidants is good for your heart and may even be associated with lower rates of some forms of cancer.
More importantly, tea can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients you need during pregnancy. Green tea can make it harder for your body to absorb folic acid or folate, an essential nutrient to build your baby’s spinal cord in the early weeks.
Why Too Much Green Tea Is Dangerous in Pregnancy
While green tea certainly has some health benefits, it’s not a good idea to simply replace water intake with green tea.
For starters, the caffeine content does add up. You’re supposed to get ten 8-ounce glasses, and even four glasses of green tea could put you over your daily caffeine limit.
More importantly, tea (both black and green tea) can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients you need during pregnancy. Green tea can make it harder for your body to absorb folic acid or folate, an essential nutrient to build your baby’s spinal cord in the early weeks. Low levels of folate are connected with increased risk of spina bifida and other serious neural cord defects. You might want to stay away from green tea during your first trimester, while your baby’s organ systems are developing.
Green tea can also interfere with iron absorption if you’re drinking it in large quantities. You need about 27-30 milligrams of iron per day when you’re pregnant (compared with 18 when you’re not expecting). For example, a 3-oz serving of 85% lean ground beef has about 2.3 milligrams of iron, and an ounce of raw spinach has 0.8 milligrams. Up to 25% of pregnant women develop anemia from iron deficiency, and more women will struggle to take in enough iron during pregnancy without a supplement. You certainly don’t want to make it harder on yourself to get the iron you need.
Generally, a cup or two of green tea per day should be safe during pregnancy after the first trimester, but don’t go overboard.
Healthy Alternatives to Plain Water
The best source of hydration is water. Sometimes, though, morning sickness or a metallic taste in your mouth can put you off of plain water. The key to drinking enough is finding flavors that appeal to you.
Other beverages shouldn’t replace water entirely, but they can help mix it up and make staying hydrated more palatable. Look for low-sugar, nutritious choices like:
- Coconut water
- Certain caffeine-free herbal teas such as ginger, peppermint, or rooibos (“red”) tea
- Skim milk or unsweetened almond milk
You can also infuse water to make it taste better. Try adding a handful of these to your thermos:
- Cucumber and mint
- Frozen berries
- Orange, lemon, or lime wedges
- Blueberry and orange
- Strawberry and mint
- Watermelon and basil
- Ginger and peach