Is Elderflower Safe During Pregnancy? Drinks and More

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Fruity and floral, elderflowers’ flavors pair perfectly with warm summer days. Across the globe, but especially in the UK where elderflower flavorings are quite popular, many women also turn to elderflower drinks as an alternative to cocktails and wine while pregnant.

Since elderflower is an herb, however, this leaves some questions as to if it’s even a safer option at all. 

Elderflower drinks of many kinds are safe to enjoy while pregnant and make a great alcohol alternative. Keep in mind that fermented elderflower drinks, such as elderflower champagne, are alcoholic, which is not advised while pregnant. 

But, just because fermented elderflower drinks aren’t recommended doesn’t mean you need to stave off the carbonation. There are plenty of other pregnancy-friendly elderflower beverages, including a recipe for a bubbly, non-alcoholic elderflower mocktail below. 

Is Elderflower Safe During Pregnancy?

If the word ‘elderflower’ has a familiar ring to it, you might be thinking of its cousin the elderberry. Both the elderberry and the elderflower come from the same plant and both have a longstanding history of use in immune support as a part of traditional medicine (source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences). 

The research on elderflower use in pregnancy is limited at best, with no formal studies available. This doesn’t mean elderflower-flavored drinks and other products are off the table, however. Just like other floral flavorings such as rose or lavender, when used as a part of food and drink, elderflower is likely safe- even while pregnant.

elderflower tea in a cup and flowers on the table

Because we’re not sure how large, supplemental amounts of elderflower would affect you or your growing baby, it is best not to take elderflower pills or dietary supplements. 

Perhaps the most common way you’ll find elderflower used is in drinks. With so many ways different styles of elderflower beverages I’ll take a deeper dive into teas, cordials, lemonade, and champagne below. 

Is Elderflower Tea Safe When Pregnant?

With elderflower’s connection to supporting immune health, it’s not surprising that you’ll find it in many of the cold and immune support teas on the market.

Lemon, ginger, berries (including elderberry), and echinacea are all common -and safe- pairings in elderflower tea blends (source: American Pregnancy Association, European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology).  

When buying any tea blend it is always a good idea to carefully read the ingredients and check for any unsafe herbs. The American Pregnancy Association has a list of the most common unsafe herbs on their website, however, this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Check out all of our articles on herbs and spices during pregnancy, with more being added frequently. 

If your local stores are only offering tea blends with questionable herbs, making your own elderflower tea is one solution! Homemade elderflower tea can be just as soothing as a store-bought blend and is equally as safe. 

Can I Drink Elderflower Cordial or Lemonade When Pregnant?

Elderflower cordials and lemonades are highly popular across England as a refreshing summertime beverage. US readers can compare these drinks to lavender lemonade. 

Whether sparking or still, elderflower cordials and lemonades are made quite similarly with a base of sugar, water, and elderflower flavoring or syrup. Regardless of whether you choose to buy yours premixed or take the do-it-yourself route, these drinks are a safe and fun alternative to alcohol during pregnancy. 

Women with gestational diabetes should keep in mind that many cordials and lemonades are sugar-sweetened and can spike blood sugar levels. Limiting portions, diluting with water, and making homemade with only a fraction of the sugar are all ways you can decrease the sweetness without sacrificing flavor. 

Research has also shown us that limiting sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy is optimal for both mom and baby.

Women who drank more than 5 servings of sugar-sweetened drinks weekly were more likely to give birth to a baby with low birth weight, go into pre-term labor, and have pre-eclampsia (source: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society). 

Elderflower Champagne and Pregnancy

While not technically true champagne, elderflower champagne is a bubbly, floral, and lightly alcoholic drink.

Frequently made at home through home fermentation, it is difficult to know exactly how much alcohol is even in elderflower champagne. While the exact alcohol content may be a bit of a mystery, one thing is not- there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy (source: CDC). 

elderflower champagne with lemon in a wine glass

If you’re wanting a little carbonation sans alcohol, your best bet is an elderflower cordial made with seltzer water. The natural carbonation that occurs with fermentation in elderflower champagne is produced by the same process that makes it alcoholic, so there won’t be any bubbles without at least some alcohol. 

Elderflower mocktail: 

  • 2 parts elderflower cordial
  • 1 part juice (try lemon, pomegranate, or even a combination of blueberry and lime)
  • Sparkling water
  • Herbs to garnish

Homemade elderflower cordials and lemonades do also have the possibility of fermenting if left sitting out. Keeping your homemade beverages in the refrigerator and drinking them within a few days should be enough precaution to keep them from fermenting accidentally. 

If you’re offered an elderflower drink at someone’s home, don’t be afraid to ask if it was homemade, store-bought, or fermented. Even if you’ve not yet told them you’re expecting, offering up that you’d rather not have an alcoholic drink, are planning on driving, or don’t want anything carbonated can be great excuses. 

Herbs are not the most straightforward of topics, especially during pregnancy. Luckily, elderflower is not only delicious but a pretty safe addition to your foods and drinks so long as you leave alcohol out of the equation.