Is Chamomile Tea Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Chamomile tea is a kind of herbal tea that is said to be relaxing and calming for the nerves.

Chamomile tea is best avoided during pregnancy. There isn’t enough information on its effects to know that it’s definitely safe for pregnant women to drink. Instead, it’s better to choose a herbal tea that is generally recognized as safe.

The unknowns about chamomile during pregnancy outweigh the benefits it might have, but it’s still a personal choice.

Here’s everything you need to know about drinking chamomile tea when you’re pregnant.

Is Chamomile Tea Safe During Pregnancy?

There are several different kinds of chamomile you might come across:

  • Roman Chamomile is the ‘true’ chamomile that is most often found in teas and in herbal preparations
  • Egyptian chamomile is similar, but is a premium product and is said to have a smoother taste
  • German chamomile is a different variant that tastes more like apples and is also known as wild chamomile or ‘Earth apple’.

They can all be treated the same way when it comes to pregnancy safety.

Chamomile tea (usually made from Roman chamomile) is a herbal tea, and as such, is naturally caffeine-free It’s believed to have several benefits, so it’s understandable that you might have thought about drinking it during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, there’s very little information regarding its safety for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

However, what little information we do have suggests that pregnant women should avoid chamomile (including chamomile tea).

Studies suggest that chamomile may have emmenagogue and abortifacient properties (source: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology).

This means that chamomile may increase the risk of bleeding or miscarriage, though this is more likely in larger amounts, rather than the small amounts found in tea.

Health Direct Australia (which offers official health advice from the Australian Government) make this same point, advising that chamomile should only be taken in small amounts during pregnancy, because it may be a uterine stimulant (source: HealthDirect).

The American Pregnancy Association don’t necessarily say that chamomile is dangerous, it’s just that it has “Insufficient Reliable Information” to be able to say whether it’s safe or not (source: APA)

Overall, chamomile tea should be avoided during pregnancy or had in very small amounts.

This includes flavored chamomile tea, such as chamomile tea with honey or vanilla, and also brands labeled ‘caffeine-free’. Flavorings or caffeine won’t make any difference to the fact that caution should be exercised with chamomile tea.

The same applies to any other chamomile product, especially if it’s in higher doses, such as a supplement or oil.

There are further studies that have implications for various stages of pregnancy, discussed further below.

chamomile tea and fresh loose chamomile leaves and flowers

Chamomile Tea in the First Trimester

Herbal teas are not generally recommended during the first trimester of pregnancy, and chamomile is one of them.

One Italian study reported a higher incidence of potential miscarriages and preterm labor when chamomile and licorice were used during pregnancy (Source: PDS Journal).

The first trimester of pregnancy is the trickiest for the fetus because major development is taking place. The spine, digestive tract, eyes, ears, and nervous system are just some of the major developments that take place during this crucial time.

Therefore it’s best to avoid chamomile in early pregnancy.

Chamomile Tea in the Second and Third Trimesters

Overall, the first trimester is the most crucial time to avoid any excess of herbs, whether in tea or in ointments, etc. There is simply not enough scientific research that has been done on chamomile to ensure its safety.

Many physicians recommend limiting the consumption of herbal teas inthe second and third trimesters too.

However, the second and third trimesters carry fewer overall risks of herbs affecting negatively the development of the fetus, although ironically women tend to use fewer herbs during this period as there are fewer symptoms of discomfort such as nausea (source: PMC).

One study concluded that women who used a high amount of herbs during pregnancy had a higher incidence of morbidities that were pregnancy-related, and their babies when delivered were small for their gestational age (source: PubMed).

However, it’s important that you check with your own doctor to see what is best for you.

What you can or can’t have depends not only on general safety measures but on your medical history.

Can Chamomile Tea Cause Miscarriage or Induce Labor?

One study showed that chamomile may potentially induce labor in pregnant women in their last trimester (40 weeks or more) (source: Iran red Crescent Medical Journal).

However, chamomile was taken in a high capsule or supplement form, rather than as a tea. Taking high doses of any herb is not recommended during pregnancy (Source: WebMD).

Other than this study, there is very limited information on whether chamomile can cause miscarriage or induce labor.

glass cup of chamomile tea

Are There Benefits of Chamomile Tea When Pregnant?

Drinking chamomile tea can help keep you hydrated, though there are other, safer drinks you can try. For more on this, check out our ten drinks pregnant women can enjoy, besides water.

Chamomile tea has also been known to give you a boost of antioxidants and to help you sleep. It’s also said to have anti-cancer properties, to help with eczema and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and back pain (source: PMC).

However, there are other ways of getting these benefits from other foods, rather than using chamomile tea, with its unknown safety profile during pregnancy.

Is Chamomile Tea Good for Pregnancy Nausea?

Chamomile is frequently used in holistic medicine to treat stomach upset and other gastrointestinal discomforts (source: Pediatrics in Review).

However it’s usually mixed with other herbs that also help, such as peppermint, so it’s not always easy to pinpoint whether it’s the chamomile alone that is effective.

Another Iranian study showed that a combination of chamomile, vitamin B6, and ginger reduced morning sickness.

Again, however, both B6 and ginger are known to combat nausea on their own – the addition of chamomile may or may not have helped (source: Iranian Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility).

Due to chamomile’s unknown safety profile during pregnancy, it might be better to use other anti-nausea remedies.

What can I do instead to help with nausea?

There are some safer, natural ways of combating nausea and morning sickness, and we’ve listed the best of them in this article.

I Drank Chamomile Tea During Pregnancy – Should I Worry?

The advice to avoid chamomile tea during pregnancy stems from an abundance of caution, rather than any definite dangers.

It’s understandable that if you accidentally thought that chamomile was 100% safe, you might now be worried if you’ve been drinking chamomile tea during your pregnancy.

Although science does point to chamomile having potentially negative effects, it might be reassuring to know that it’s unlikely that the small amounts of chamomile in tea are enough to cause any problems.

As we already mentioned, one government (Australia) says that you can have chamomile tea, but in small amounts. It’s unlikely this advice would be given if there were definite dangers concerning chamomile.

However, it is probably a good idea to stop using chamomile due to the limited information about it, just to be on the safe side.

You should switch to another herbal tea that is recognized as safe or try other ways to hydrate during your pregnancy. You can find some ideas on that here.

In conclusion, it is best to avoid any excess of anything herbal, and particularly in the first trimester.

If you do choose to drink chamomile tea during pregnancy, it should be after consulting your healthcare provider, and only in very small amounts, if at all.

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