Nursing mothers often have questions about various foods and drinks they should ingest while breastfeeding. Of course, new moms want to make sure that everything they put into their bodies is healthy for their babies. Included on the list of common queries is, “Can breastfeeding mothers drink green tea?”
The answer is yes. For most nursing mothers, green tea is perfectly safe and healthy to drink. While overdoing it on caffeine can have adverse effects on you, small amounts of green tea can actually be beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics even supports drinking it while nursing.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
There are several health benefits to drinking green tea, and wakefulness is at the top of the list. For the nursing mom who is avoiding coffee, this can be a terrific perk for consuming this delicious beverage.
The caffeine in green tea can also help improve focus, which is another plus for the exhausted new mother. The alertness that comes from this drink is much better than that of coffee since it won’t leave you feeling anxious or jittery. This is because green tea also contains L-theanine, which tends to calm rather than excite. You can’t get this type of calming focus from coffee.
The antioxidants found in this drink make some experts call it one of the planet’s healthiest beverages. From this, you can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your brain’s function, protect your body against some cancers, reduce inflammation, prevent cell damage, and even trigger fat loss!
For the nursing mother who’d like to shed a few pounds, the fat-burning capabilities alone might make this a drink you definitely want to add to your diet. As ingesting weight-loss products is a bad idea while breastfeeding, green tea offers a natural way to enjoy these benefits. One study showed that it could increase the amount of fat burned by as much as 17%!
There is also evidence that long-term drinking of this tea can help protect people against type II diabetes and obesity from a high-fat diet. Lowering the chances of heart disease is another benefit listed in this study.
Green tea is reported to be an antibacterial, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiviral, antiangiogenic, and neuroprotective, with the added gains of lowering cholesterol and lessening the risks of degenerative illnesses. It contains protein, phenolic compounds, amino acids, minerals, fiber, lipids, and many other nutrients.
How Should Nursing Mothers Drink Green Tea?
With all of these benefits, you might be tempted to go and drink a whole pot of green tea, but there are precautions that should be considered. For the breastfeeding mom, no more than two or three cups a day are recommended. This is partially due to the caffeine content of this drink, but there are other negative aspects to drinking too much green tea.
As the above-mentioned NCBI article explains, there are adverse effects of this beverage as well. Some studies suggest that too much of it could be harmful to the liver and pancreas. Some green tea plants have a tendency to store aluminum, which would then be transferred to your body. Other studies show that excessive amounts of it can lower your body’s ability to absorb iron.
The positive aspects of this ancient herbal drink definitely outweigh the negative, as long as it is ingested in moderation. You will want to purchase high-quality tea instead of a cheaper brand that may have less of the good stuff and more of the bad. The superior brands also taste better! However, you should avoid bottled green teas, which can have added ingredients.
When making this drink, some choose to heat it in water as you would for any tea. Simply bring water to a boil, turn it off, and drop in the teabag to “steep.” Be sure to let it cool down a bit before drinking it. You might speed up the process by adding a bit of milk.
If you need to add sweeteners, remember that artificial ones are not a good idea while breastfeeding. Natural sugar or honey makes better choices for the nursing mom. You can also try adding ginger or other spices to your tea. Orange, lemon, and berries are also good choices. If you prefer iced tea, simply make it ahead of time and cool it in the fridge.
You can add green tea to smoothies, and meal replacement shakes as well. For example, one recipe from EatingWell contains avocado, spinach, grapes, green tea, and honey for a smoothie that is packed with nutrition. Simply put two packed cups of baby spinach in a blender and add three cups of frozen seedless grapes.
Throw in a seeded and peeled ripe avocado, two teaspoons of honey, and a cup and a half of cooled green tea. Blend well and serve immediately. Note that the recipe calls for doubling the amount of tea bags for a more potent brew, but as a nursing mom, you might want to skip that part. There are tons of healthy ways to enjoy this tea.
Which Teas are Safe While Breastfeeding?
Several other teas are considered safe to drink while breastfeeding. If you are looking for caffeine-free options, you might want to try ginger, rosehip, dandelion, white, decaffeinated black, or chamomile teas.
For years, minty teas such as peppermint or spearmint have been used to reduce gas and colic in breastfeeding babies. However, be careful with this remedy since some studies suggest that it could slow milk production.
Some teas are even said to boost milk production in nursing women. Beverages made with alfalfa, hops flowers, brewer’s yeast, milk thistle, nettle, fenugreek, goat’s rue, fennel, turmeric, and raspberry leaf are all included in this list.
Teas to Avoid While Nursing
You should avoid some teas and herbs as long as you breastfeed your baby. Lemon balm, for example, can reduce your supply of milk, as can sage, sorrel, periwinkle, oregano, and parsley.
Ginseng can adversely affect the heart rate of both you and your baby if ingested while breastfeeding. Licorice is another treat to avoid until your baby is weaned since it has compounds that could be toxic to your baby’s fragile immune system. Goldenseal can cause damage to the baby’s liver, and rhubarb can harm your child’s digestive system.
Black cohosh is another substance that can upset your baby’s tummy if you ingest it while breastfeeding. You should also avoid yarrow roots and Angelica roots.
This is not a complete list, so if you are into teas and herbs, you may want to consult with your doctor about which ones are safe for you and your baby.
Hydration, Rest, and Nutrition are Critical
While it is safe to drink green tea, smoothies, and other beverages while nursing, it is also essential that these do not replace water. The breastfeeding mother should drink at least 64 ounces of water a day in addition to any teas and other drinks. Dehydration can be hard on the mother’s kidneys and reduce milk production significantly.
It is also important not to fill up on teas and miss the nutrition you need. Meal replacement shakes are safe as long as they are made with healthy ingredients and no artificial sweeteners. Remember that a breastfeeding mom needs more calories per day than before her pregnancy. Even those who are trying to lose weight should make sure to get enough healthy fats, calories, and nutrients to feed both you and your baby.
Also, while it may be tempting to enjoy a hot cup of tea after you finally get the baby to sleep, don’t forget that your rest is vital as well. Self-care is not often mentioned when it comes to new mothers. Instead, they are almost praised for denying their own needs, but the healthier you are, the better care you can take of your baby.
With that in mind, you will want to make sure that the last cup of tea during your “me time” is one of the caffeine-free choices. While green tea is an excellent alternative to coffee in the mornings or to get through that afternoon slump, it does not make an ideal nighttime beverage for the mother who needs rest.
While nursing mothers are advised to avoid caffeine, most studies show that the levels in green tea are safe and that very little of it is found in the mother’s milk. As long as you stay below four servings a day, there is no reason that you cannot enjoy this nutritious drink. It can be consumed hot or cold, blended into smoothies or meal replacement shakes, and even added to some recipes.
When trying a new food or drink, always watch your baby for a reaction. For example, if your baby becomes fussy or hyperactive after a day in which you’ve ingested green tea, it could be that the caffeine content is too high. Try lowering the number of servings you have and see if that helps calm your baby.