What CAN I DRINK DURING PREGNANCY?
If you are hoping to become pregnant, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, the information you’re finding about what you can and can’t drink may be overwhelming. You may have thought to yourself many times “what can I drink during pregnancy?” Continue reading to learn more about what drinks you should or shouldn’t be drinking throughout your pregnancy journey.
Water Intake During Pregnancy
Water is a staple, but your needs for it will change as your body changes and develops (1). Keeping yourself hydrated throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding is important for the health of both you and baby. It is recommended expecting moms get 10 cups of water a day. While breastfeeding, moms should increase their water intake even more to support milk supply (2). A mother’s intake may also change depending on their level of physical activity and climate exposure.
Drinking enough water during pregnancy helps to(1,3,4):
- Deliver nutrients from mom to baby
- Remove waste products from both mama and baby
- Prevent constipation and discomfort
- Control swelling
- Control mom’s body temperature
- Control blood volume & circulation
- Make up part of the protective sac that surrounds baby in the womb
How to Increase Fluid Intake During Pregnancy
Increasing fluids may be challenging,but a good display of hydration status is urine. A pale yellow or clear colour is a good display that you are getting enough fluids. Dark yellow shows you may need more fluids. Some helpful tips to get enough fluid throughout the day include:
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Drink a glass of water when you wake up and before you head to bed
- Drink a glass during each meal
If breastfeeding, try having a glass of water during each feed and include foods with high water content throughout the day such as fruits and vegetables.
Click here to read more about fluid requirements during pregnancy.
Alcohol Intake During Pregnancy
Before & During
Research has not determined a “safe” amount or accurate timing for drinking alcohol when hoping to become pregnant or during pregnancy. The safest choice for expecting mothers is to avoid alcohol. During pregnancy, your baby’s brain and nervous system are developing throughout your whole pregnancy. Drinking alcohol at any point increases the baby’s chance of developing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a lifelong disability (3).
If you are not breastfeeding, drinking alcohol is okay, however be careful regarding your tolerance and ability to care for your baby. Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is safer than while pregnant, but proceed with caution (5). Your baby may spit up more often, consuming less milk, and overall milk supply may decrease if excessive drinking of alcohol occurs. Also, breastmilk taste can be affected by alcohol, which may cause your baby to drink less (5).
If you consider drinking alcohol while breastfeeding, some helpful tips include limiting the number of drinks and drinking during or soon after a feed.
Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy
Health Canada recommends a safe amount of caffeine to drink is 300mg/day (2-3 cups) for pregnant or lactating mothers (3). It is assumed that more than this may cause adverse health effects in pregnancy, as caffeine can easily transfer from mom’s blood to baby (1).
Oftentimes when we think of caffeine our minds directly go to coffee, yet it is just one of the many forms of caffeine. Caffeine is also found in sodas, teas, energy drinks, as well as in some foods (e.g. chocolate). It is important to be mindful when drinking or eating anything that may contain caffeine (1).
Fermented Drinks During Pregnancy
Drinks that are fermented, such as kombucha, ginger beer, kvass or kefir are known for their gut health benefits, which have recently become quite popular. With recently becoming popular and new, the research regarding fermented beverages and pregnancy is limited. Fermentation is a natural process of changing sugars into alcohol (6). Fermented beverages go through the fermentation process, and some may contain low levels of alcohol. In Canada, there are rules and percentages for having to label alcohol-containing drinks for them to be sold (6). Kombucha, ginger beer, kvass, and kefir may contain low alcohol levels; their amounts vary from brand to brand. While companies must appropriately label, studies have found that some contain higher alcohol amounts than claimed (7).
As stated previously, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy. If fermented beverages are your choice of drink, it may be best to speak with a Dietitian or healthcare provider who can help bring more clarity and up-to-date research. As a newer trend, the research regarding fermented beverages during pregnancy is becoming more concrete.
Click here to read more about fermented foods during pregnancy.
Herbal Teas During Pregnancy
Herbal teas and alternative medicine have been used for many yearse to help with symptoms related to pregnancy and breastfeeding (8). These teas contain the roots, leaves, seeds, flowers, or plants’ fruit, claiming to improve health but have limited scientific evidence supporting them. It is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding mothers limit their intake to 1-2 cups a day and/or rotate the types of herbal teas consumed. Some herbs may start contractions and increase the risk of preterm labour (8).
When you are breastfeeding, the same rules apply 1-2 cups a day, rotating the types of teas and additionally staying aware of your baby and any unusual behaviours. Some herbal teas may react with certain medications, so it is recommended that moms reach out to a health care professional for individual recommendations (8). Below is a chart of herbal teas and their safety level during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. You will notice “may” or “can” because each pregnancy is different, and what works for one may not work for the next. This makes herbal teas difficult to study and to prove their benefits and risks.
A Guide to Herbal Teas During Pregnancy
– Safe for both mother & baby
– Avoid during first trimester as it claims to promote menstruation
– Avoid in large consumptions
|Red Raspberry Leaf Tea|
– May stimulate contraction, avoid during first trimester
– Safe for women during their last trimester
– May strengthen uterus (soften cervix) preparing it for birth
– Safe to use in moderation
– May help relieve nausea
|Green tea||– Contains Caffeine, therefore be mindful in regards to how much you are getting during pregnancy and while breastfeeding|
|Chamomile Tea||– Avoid consuming, may can adverse health effects|
|Mother’s Milk Tea|
– No safety risk for mother or baby
– May help improve and maintain maternal milk supply
Rose Hip Tea
|– Should only be drank in moderation|
Lemon Balm Tea
– Insufficient information regarding their safety
– Should be avoided
– Avoid in concentrated forms (teas)
– Linked to miscarriage or high blood pressure
– Avoid in concentrated forms (teas)
– Large consumption may increase risk of miscarriage and/or babies’ development
Final Notes from The Nest
Staying hydrated both during and after your pregnancy is important for both the health of you and your baby. Avoid alcohol consumption throughout your pregnancy and be cautious while breastfeeding. Limit your intake of caffeine, kombucha and herbal teas, while making water your main source of fluid. If you are in need of additional information or assistance regarding drinks to consume while pregnant, contact a registered dietitian today.
Article written by Bailey McDonagh
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- Whitney E, Rolfes S, Hammond G, Piche L. Understanding Nutrition. 2nd ed. Toronto: Lenore Taylor-Atkins; 2016.
- Dietitians of Canada. Guidelines for Drinking Fluids to Stay Hydrated. Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition® [PEN] Knowledge Pathway Healthy Lifestyle. 2017, June 27 [cited 2021, June 10]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com.
- Canada P. Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy – Canada.ca [Internet]. Canada.ca. 2021 [cited 10 June 2021]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/healthy-pregnancy/healthy-pregnancy-guide.html#a13.4
- Montgomery K. Nutrition Column: An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond. The Journal of Perinatal Education. 2002;11(3):40-42.
- Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding [Internet]. Best Start. 2020 [cited 10 June 2021]. Available from: https://resources.beststart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/A28-E.pdf
- Canada H. Ethanol in non-alcoholic fermented beverages – Canada.ca [Internet]. Canada.ca. 2020 [cited 10 June 2021]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/food-nutrition/ethanol-non-alcoholic-fermented-beverages.html
- Situm T, BCIT School of Health Sciences, Environmental Health, Heacock H, McIntyre L. A comparison of ethanol content of water kefir products to kombucha products and their compliance to British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Act. ephj [Internet]. 2020May5 [cited 2021Jun.10];. Available from: https://journals.bcit.ca/index.php/ehj/article/view/21
- Herbal teas during pregnancy [Internet]. Pregnancy Birth and Baby. 2021 [cited 10 June 2021]. Available from: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/herbal-teas-during-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding
- Pregnancy Summary of Recommendations and Evidence [Internet]. Pen Nutrition; 2020 [cited 20 June 2021]. Available from: https://www.pennutrition.com/PrintPDF/ViewTool.aspx?trid=3104#