Q&A: Can you drink kombucha when pregnant?

Posted in Healthy Pregnancy and tagged .

Question & Answer

It’s the fermented tea drink with a cult following thanks to its promised health benefits, but can you drink kombucha when pregnant?

What’s everyone’s thoughts on kombucha drinks during pregnancy? I am wanting to improve my gut health but have heard a few mixed things about kombucha and pregnancy.

Jen, Mum's Grapevine Group Member

The answer isn’t black and white, unfortunately. In fact, it’s pretty controversial. Here’s what you need to know so you can make an informed decision about sipping kombucha while pregnant.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented drink usually made from black or green tea, made using a scoby (a culture of bacteria and yeast). It’s left to ferment at room temperature for a few weeks, put into bottles and then left to ferment some more. The result is a slightly sweet and acidic drink. The health benefits reportedly include all the good stuff that comes with drinking green tea, plus the addition of probiotics for healthy gut bacteria.

What’s the deal with kombucha and pregnancy?

Here are the concerns with drinking kombucha during pregnancy and even breastfeeding:

  • Kombucha does contain some alcohol. While it is sold as a non-alcoholic drink, the fermentation process does result in a small amount of alcohol content.
  • Some brands of kombucha are unpasteurised.  Pasteurisation is the process that’s used to heat drinks so that bacteria like listeria and salmonella is killed. Unpasteurised or ‘raw’ kombucha can become contaminated with bad bacteria that cause serious illness.
  • It contains caffeine because it’s usually made with tea. While moderate amounts of caffeine up to 200mg per day are considered safe for pregnant women, health professionals explain that caffeine does pass from mum to bub across the placenta while pregnant, and in breastmilk later on.

So it is safe to drink kombucha when pregnant?

There really hasn’t been any research into the effects of drinking kombucha while pregnant, so technically, the jury is out. However given that there are calls in Australia to have stricter manufacturing of kombucha due to concerns the alcohol level can fluctuate so much, it’s probably safer to err on the side of caution and avoid it while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Sources: Study: The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’ and WebMD

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