Many women avoid green tea during pregnancy because it contains caffeine, but there still is some debate on this matter.
Black tea is the common tea we're used to buying in tea bag form at the grocery store and drinking at traditional English tea parties. Green tea is the common Asian tea and recently people have been discovering its health benefits.
Both black, oolong, and green teas are made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but each are processed differently. Green tea is a more delicate form of black tea, with a lighter flavor. It's made from unfermented tea leaves, whereas black tea leaves have been fermented. The fermentation process creates a high concentration of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants.
On the pro- green tea side, the tea is stock full of antioxidants and helps boost immunities, which can help you ward off illnesses during pregnancy. Green tea also helps control blood sugar levels, helping to prevent gestational diabetes. It also helps regulate cholesterol levels, which can be a big problem in some women (thought typically not in vegans!)
On a less serious note, green tea can help ease indigestion, increase your energy levels, and help reduce inflammation in the body.
On the other hand, there are several areas of concern for drinking non-herbal teas like green tea during pregnancy.
The main drawback to green tea during pregnancy is its caffeine. It has about one fifth the amount of caffeine as in a cup of coffee, and studies show that you either want to drastically reduce or completely eliminate caffeine during pregnancy. Babies cannot metabolize caffeine like an adult can, and because it does cross through the placenta, if you drink it, you are feeding it to your unborn baby. Some studies show that caffeine can even lead to miscarriage.
An average cup of green tea has about 15 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a cup of coffee has 100 milligrams. Even drinking decaffeinated green tea during pregnancy won't keep you away from all the caffeine entirely. There still is about .4 milligrams of caffeine in an eight ounce glass of decaffeinated green tea.
Now, if you are a serious coffee drinker and are looking for a way to ease out of coffee but still need some pick-me-up, green tea is certainly a healthier option. Just keep in mind that the less caffeine during pregnancy, the better.
Whether you decide to drink green tea during the later stages of pregnancy or not, you should avoid it during the first trimester. Studies show that the ECGC in green tea affects the absorption of folic acid in the body, and the first trimester is very important for your baby's development of the spinal and brain, both of which are affected by folic acid levels. Also, when you drink green tea, the body has a harder time absorbing iron, which is an important nutrient for your developing baby.
Ideally, if you are going to have caffeine during pregnancy at all, stick to green tea after the first trimester, and keep your consumption level low, around 1-2 cups per day.
While you might want to avoid green tea during pregnancy, you can actually drink green tea for fertility. Studies show that green tea can help create the type of cervical mucus that encourages sperm motility, allowing them to live for longer inside your vagina.
A study done by Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, California found that drinking 1/2 cup of green tea daily during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle doubled the chances of pregnancy during that cycle. Participants drinking other caffeinated beverages did not have the same results, so it was something exclusive to green tea that increased the fertility.
Also, the antioxidants in green tea help reduce the toxins stored in your body, allowing your reproductive organs to be cleaner and healthier.
On the other hand, drinking too much green tea can also decrease fertility. The ECGC in green tea can help prevent tumors, but some studies show it might prevent the embryo from developing the proper blood vessels.
So, it seems to be somewhat of a toss-up and medical studies aren't fully decided on whether it's safe to drink green tea during pregnancy or whether green tea can lead to increased fertility. What it seems is that a small amount can help your body, whereas drinking too much definitely will hurt.