When it comes to being pregnant, it’s a simple fact that some things that were once easy or could be done without much of a second thought suddenly become more difficult or—worse—dangerous to the health of a pregnant person and their child. Smoking cigarettes, eating certain foods, or lifting and carrying a certain amount of weight at any given time all take on new meanings.
Drinking beverages like coffee and tea is one of those things new expectant mothers need to pay special attention to. This is because drinks like these contain caffeine, which is known to cause complications during pregnancy if consumed in excess. But, of course, not all caffeinated drinks are created equally, and some of our favorite warm drinks contain much higher levels of caffeine than others. This leaves many pregnant women wondering if they’re able to have a warm cup of chai tea when they’re in need of something soothing to drink.
In this article, we’ll talk about this topic a bit more in-depth and help you come to an informed conclusion!
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Numerous studies that have been done on animals have shown that large amounts of caffeine intake during pregnancy can cause a host of birth defects, including premature labor, reduced fertility, and an increased risk of your baby being born underweight.
While there haven’t really been any conclusive studies done on humans, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting the health of your baby. However, generally speaking, most doctors say that it’s usually fairly safe to have caffeine in moderate amounts, as long as you limit it to 200 milligrams per day, or the equivalent of one 12 oz cup of coffee.
Chai tea tends to come in at about anywhere from 11-40 mg of caffeine depending on the tea base used (black and green tea bases will naturally have higher concentrations of caffeine than ones made with an herbal tea, for example), meaning it’s generally pretty safe to have a cup or two per day.
However, when it comes to chai in particular, it isn’t just the caffeine you need to think about! There are a multitude of herbs and spices present in chair tea, and some of these herbs—such as fennel and star anise—can affect your hormones and increases the risk of complications during your pregnancy.
Some other herbs to be wary of that may be in your favorite chai:
- Raspberry Leaf
But just because you should limit your caffeine intake while you’re carrying your child, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a few different options! Now that we have a better general understanding of some of the risks associated with drinking chai tea, we can talk about a few other, safer alternatives to help you get your fix.
Try it Herbal!
While chai tea is traditionally made with black tea, which contains a fair amount of caffeine itself, it can also be made with virtually any tea as a base—meaning it can also come with much lower amounts of caffeine as well.
Herbal chai drinks, such as those made with Rooibos tea, contain virtually no caffeine at all, making them extremely safe to ingest.
There are many brands out there that also offer caffeine-free blends of chai tea. The main things to look for in these brands are those that have the lowest amount of caffeine and have no to little sugar added.
Some of the most popular brands of these types of chai are:
- Numi Organic Rooibos Chai
- Twinings of London Decaffeinated Chai Tea
- Yogi Chai Rooibos
- Stash Decaf Vanilla Chai
- Bigelow Tea Decaf Chai Spiced
- Pride of India Organic Herbal Tulsi Chai
- Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Bengal Spice
- Tazo Black Tea Concentrate, Decaf Chai Latte
It’s also wise to keep in mind how your particular pregnancy is moving along. While it’s generally safe for women with a normal, complication-free pregnancy, a woman carrying a high-risk pregnancy may also be at a greater risk of experiencing preterm labor after exposure to herbs such as licorice or raspberry leaf, as these sweet-tasting plants also often contain estrogenic compounds that have been used historically to promote menstruation and induce labor.
Obstetricians, midwives, and other types of caregivers generally advise women with pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-related hypertension, to avoid any source of caffeine. This is because caffeine in and of itself is also a powerful diuretic and may cause fluid loss, which could then lead to dehydration and subsequent preterm labor.
At the end of the day, the verdict is: YES. It is safe to drink chai tea while you’re pregnant.
Finding out that you’re pregnant can definitely put you on high alert and can make you start to reconsider several of your eating and drinking habits.
It’s an exciting time, and while certain habits like smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol should definitely cut out entirely, luckily, when it comes to other small comforts like a cup of chai tea, you can continue to indulge yourself with little risk to your baby, as long as it’s done in moderation!
But just because you should limit your caffeine intake while you’re carrying your child (most doctors say, to be safe, that women shouldn’t drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day) it doesn’t mean you don’t still have a few different options! Many herbal and caffeine-free alternatives exist out there to help you get the fix you’re craving without posing any caffeine-related harm to your child.
The only thing you may want to pay attention to are the herbs being used in your chai blend of choice, as certain plants such as fennel, star anise, peppermint, and raspberry leaf often contain estrogenic compounds that have been used throughout history to promote menstruation and induce labor–meaning too much of them can also run the risk of causing premature labor as well as other birth complications.