If you love kombucha, you might wonder if it's safe to drink while pregnant. It's a complex question, and there are some different opinions. We'll walk you through a few things to consider so you can make an informed decision that's right for you!
First, let's talk about what this drink is. Kombucha starts with tea. It also contains yeast, bacteria, and sugar that combine to make fermentation magic and produce live and active cultures colonies. Depending on the kombucha you choose, it may also include fruit juices, herbs, botanicals, chia seeds, spices, or even additional sweeteners and ingredients.
At Brew Dr., we never use artificial sweeteners or ingredients in our kombucha. All of our flavors come directly from high-quality herbs, botanicals, and loose leaf tea, as well as real fruit and fruit juices You’ll only find raw, organic cane sugar in our brews — No artificial sweeteners ever.
During the fermentation process, kombucha naturally produces alcohol. In order for commercial kombucha to be sold in retail establishments, it must contain less than 0.5% alcohol. By comparison, a can of light beer has around 4.2% and a can of non-alcoholic beer has 0.5 percent. While 0.5% alcohol is generally considered safe for pregnant women, most doctors still advise their patients to avoid any and all alcohol while pregnant to be safe. It is still unknown if even this small amount has any impact on the developing fetus.
While most commercial kombucha companies remove the alcohol from their brews, you may want to be particularly careful of any homebrewed kombucha. Prior to alcohol extraction, a batch may have as much as 2% – 5% alcohol! The type of yeast used, length of time for fermentation and overall process can increase the alcohol content considerably.
Since kombucha is often made from green or black tea, it does contain a small amount of caffeine. The caffeine content in a bottle of kombucha is rarely above 20mg, meaning each kombucha contains about as much caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee. Some types of kombucha have more, but these will typically indicate it somewhere on the bottle.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to 200mg a day. So, unless you or your doctor believe you shouldn't consume caffeine at all, the amount in a kombucha shouldn't be too concerning! Just be sure to make a note of how much caffeine you're consuming daily when pregnant, though. We want you and your baby to be happy and healthy through this time in your life.
One of the reasons we love kombucha is that it’s live and active, full of gut-friendly bacteria produced by fermentation. We closely monitor our brewing process to maintain the perfect temperature for those good bacteria to thrive while ensuring our product is safe. This means our kombucha is “raw,” the way traditional kombucha was meant to be. Raw kombucha contains all of the live and active cultures that are formed during the fermentation process. While this is the preferred method of brewing, it does result in an unpasteurized product which many doctors advise their pregnant patients to avoid.
One of the biggest considerations with drinking kombucha while pregnant is harmful bacteria that could be introduced during the fermentation process. Most commercial kombucha manufacturers adhere to strict sterilization, sanitation and brewing practices to eliminate the risk for contaminating brews with bad bacteria.
Kombucha has billions of probiotics that benefit your immune system during or after pregnancy. The immune system during this time is often weaker due to hormonal imbalances, so having something to help kickstart your gut defense is seldom a bad idea. There are a lot of fermented foods you can consume in addition to kombucha containing probiotics; don't just rely on one for those disease-fighting micro-organisms! Variety is essential in any diet, so don't skip out on other healthy foods like sauerkraut and probiotic yogurt.
Many women struggle with constipation before and after giving birth, which can be challenging to treat. While laxatives can help, they aren't something you should rely on, as you can form a dependency on the medication. Fortunately, kombucha has your back! Since the fermented drink can help balance your gut, it can also help you stay regular. A healthy gut is key to the process!
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic that you can use to improve the health of your urinary tract. If you don't have enough of it in your body, you could develop a UTI or other urinary tract problems. Kombucha and other fermented foods can be a great source of this helpful probiotic. UTIs aren't uncommon for people to contract during pregnancy and after giving birth, so drink up!
Acne is a common issue faced during and after pregnancy - it's like middle school all over again in some cases! Kombucha contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals used to combat this problem. Antioxidants, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and folic acid all have acne-fighting components, and they're all found in kombucha!
Having a kombucha every once in a while after you've delivered your baby can be a great idea, but if you're breastfeeding, you'll need to pay close attention to how your baby reacts. Aside from that, drinking kombucha post-delivery is fine and healthy! There are certain conditions acquired after delivery that kombucha can help alleviate, including constipation, problems with the urinary tract, and inflammation. Plus, kombucha can do wonders for your immune system when you drink the right brand!
Pregnancy brings about many changes to the body, including changes to the immune system. As April Rees, a Ph.D. researcher in immunology, puts it, your body must alter its cells so it "doesn't reject the baby like it would a transplanted organ." White blood cells, a star player in your immune system, increase in number and become more active.
Do you get sick more easily while pregnant, though? It depends on the person, but the overall consensus is yes, you can contract an illness more easily while pregnant. White blood cells may fight infection, but having a higher WBC count while pregnant doesn't necessarily mean those cells will be focused on you. Your immune system becomes repressed when pregnant because it creates more white blood cells not to reject the baby.
After you deliver your baby, your immune system needs time to get back to normal. If you cannot drink kombucha during pregnancy, drinking it afterward may help your body "reset" itself. Some studies show that kombucha can help strengthen your immune system and has antibacterial properties and probiotics.
The probiotics in kombucha boost your gut health. Since around 70-80 percent of immune cells are within your gut microbiome, drinking kombucha to improve your gut health can also improve your immune system. Kombucha is also high in polyphenols, which promote the growth of some types of healthy bacteria. In short, kombucha improves your immune system by boosting good bacteria and helping to get rid of harmful bacteria.
Fruit is something that many people don't have enough of in their diet. During pregnancy, certain foods are often avoided due to nausea and an inability to keep down things we'd otherwise eat, including fruits and vegetables. This isn't true for everyone, but adding more fruit to your diet is still a good idea to stay healthy after pregnancy.
People add fruit and vegetable juices to kombucha all the time. Popular juices include strawberry, orange, apple, kale, and just about anything else that can be juiced. The benefits of these fruits and vegetables are not taken away when they're in kombucha either, so go ahead and grab a bottle for those extra nutrients!
As with anything else, moderation is key. In most cases, kombucha is perfectly safe to drink after giving birth, but it's essential to be aware of how you and your baby feel while/after consuming the drink. Caffeine and alcohol are present in kombucha, and there may be no harmful side effects, but breastfeeding can affect how much kombucha you should allow yourself daily. To play it as safe as possible, if you choose to breastfeed, wait a couple of hours or so after consuming kombucha to nurse your baby, and if you're not breastfeeding, then you only have your own body to worry about. No matter the situation, always drink kombucha alongside eating a balanced diet to stay happy, healthy, and thriving.
While kombucha may be perfectly safe to drink when you’re pregnant, there are at least a couple of reasons why you may want to take a sabbatical until after you deliver. It’s important for you to discuss your concerns with your doctor before you make any decision. Don’t worry! We’ll save some bottles (or cans!) for you to enjoy post-delivery. In the meantime, congratulations on your new addition and cheers to you being a great mom who does her homework! When you and your doctor think you're ready to get back into the kombucha game, sit back and relax with a bottle of Brew Dr.