Green tea contains caffeine, a stimulant that can affect how your baby develops. Some doctors recommend fewer than 200 mg per day but others recommend complete avoidance.

A pregnant person needs to drink more liquids than a nonpregnant person. This is because water helps to form the placenta and amniotic fluid. If you’re pregnant, you should try to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water per day, based on your own needs and body.

There are certain foods you should also avoid or limit while pregnant because they might be harmful to your baby. You may have been warned by your doctor about drinking too much coffee because of the effects of caffeine.

Green tea, on the other hand, is often praised for its health benefits. But is it safe during pregnancy?

Read on to learn more about green tea and how much you can consume safely while pregnant.

Green tea is made from the same plant as regular black tea and isn’t considered an herbal tea. It contains caffeine just like coffee, but in smaller amounts.

Green tea contains high concentrations of antioxidants called polyphenols. The antioxidants fight free radicals in the body and prevent them from damaging DNA in your cells.

Green tea is mostly water and contains almost no calories per cup.

An 8-ounce (oz) cup of green tea contains approximately 24 to 45 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, depending on how strong it’s brewed.

On the other hand, 8 oz of coffee may contain anywhere between 95 and 200 mg of caffeine. In other words, a cup of green tea has less than half the amount of caffeine that’s in your typical cup of coffee.

Be careful, though: Even a cup of decaffeinated green tea or coffee contains small amounts of caffeine (12 mg or less).

Caffeine is considered a stimulant. It can freely cross the placenta and enter the baby’s bloodstream. Your baby takes a much longer time to metabolize, or process, the caffeine than a typical adult does, so doctors have had concerns about its impact on the developing baby.

Though some older research has shown conflicting evidence about the safety of drinking caffeinated beverages during pregnancy, more recent 2021 research indicates there’s no safe level.

Consuming high levels of caffeine may be related to problems, including:

  • miscarriages
  • stillbirth
  • premature birth
  • low birth weight
  • childhood acute leukemia

Since it’s a stimulant, caffeine might help keep you awake, but it also can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. This might all be OK at first, but as your pregnancy progresses, your body’s ability to break down caffeine slows down. You might feel jittery, have trouble sleeping, or experience heartburn if you drink too much.

Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it causes you to release water. Drink plenty of water to offset any water loss caused by caffeine.

When it comes to even moderate levels of caffeine, it’s worth talking with your doctor about how much you can drink, if any. This includes green tea and other caffeinated drinks. Your doctor may give you the OK to have a cup or so per day or a few times per week.

Some doctors will ask you to limit your caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg per day. If your doctor approves of those guidelines, it’s OK to have a cup or two of green tea each day.

Just be sure to monitor your overall intake of caffeine to stay below your doctor’s recommended limits. To make sure you stay below that level, also add up the caffeine you consume in:

  • chocolate
  • soft drinks and sodas
  • black tea
  • energy drinks
  • coffee

Herbal teas aren’t made from the actual tea plant, but rather from parts of plants like:

  • roots
  • seeds
  • flowers
  • bark
  • fruit
  • leaves

There are many herbal teas out on the market today, and most don’t have any caffeine. But does this mean they’re safe?

Most herbal teas haven’t been studied for safety in pregnant people, so it’s best to exercise caution.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the safety and effectiveness of herbal teas. Most don’t have conclusive evidence of safety during pregnancy. Certain herbs can have side effects for you and your baby. When consumed in large amounts, certain herbal teas may stimulate the uterus and cause a miscarriage.

You should follow a “better safe than sorry” approach to herbal teas, too. It’s best to check with your doctor before drinking any kind of herbal tea during pregnancy.

A warning about red raspberry leaf herbal tea

Important: Avoid using red raspberry leaf herbal tea or supplements, which have no strong scientific evidence for effectiveness and may even have adverse affects.

Was this helpful?

While the evidence against caffeine during pregnancy isn’t conclusive, doctors often recommend limiting your intake to less than 200 mg each day or even avoiding it altogether. Remember, this includes all sources of caffeine.

Green tea may be OK to drink in moderation because a cup typically contains less than 45 mg of caffeine, but you’ll want to check with your doctor to be sure. Make sure to read the product labels before eating or drinking anything that may contain caffeine. Brewed iced green tea might contain more than the average cup.

Finally, listen to your body. If your doctor says a cup of green tea is OK but it’s making you feel jittery or not allowing you to sleep well, it’s probably time to switch to a decaf version or forego green tea entirely.