If you’re a new or expectant mother, you may want to know whether or not it’s safe to drink kombucha when pregnant or nursing. Ask enough people, and you’ll get a myriad of answers.
Here’s mine: Yes, kombucha is safe when pregnant or nursing. With qualifications.
What are those qualifications?
If you’ve been a regular kombucha drinker, keep drinking it! Kombucha has a lot of benefits for the pregnant mother:
- It increases energy levels.
- It helps bowel movements be regular.
- It detoxifies the body.
- It helps you maximize nutrient absorption because it’s probiotic.
All those are good things! Pregnant ladies often suffer from lack of energy, and this will give you an energy boost without resorting to caffeine or sugar. Pregnant women also frequently struggle with constipation during pregnancy, and this can help you be more regular. Everyone knows that pregnancy increases mucus production, and this can make battling normal colds or allergies difficult. Kombucha can help cleanse and detox your body safely so you can ward off potential illnesses. And, of course, pregnant women are creating a new little life inside them, so they need to be able to use all the nutrients from their (hopefully) nutrient dense foods.
I do have a couple of cautions for pregnant women, though.
If you’re pregnant and you’ve never drunk kombucha before, use caution. In very rare cases, kombucha can cause a reaction in first time drinkers. It’d be terrible to be one of those rare people and have that reaction while pregnant. If you still choose to try to start drinking kombucha, please do so slowly. Start off drinking as little as 4 oz. a day, then slowly build that up as you ascertain your body’s response to this potent beverage.
Is drinking kombucha safe while nursing?
If you’ve made a safe home brew, the answer again is yes, but be cautious. What is a safe brew? One that is not overly acidic (that might cause acidosis), but is also not so basic that it doesn’t ward off pathogens. Normally, I’d tell you to just go by smell and taste to determine when your brew is done. But when nursing, it’s best not to take any risks. You can use inexpensive pH testing strips to make sure you’re drinking the brew between pH levels 2.5 and 3.0.
Again, I have a couple of cautions for nursing mothers, though.
First, kombucha is a detoxing agent. If you’re well-hydrated, those toxins will come out in your pee or stool. If you’re dehydrated, they can come out through your skin, your eyes, even your breast milk. It’d be terrible to have those toxins going out of you and straight into your baby. So, stay hydrated!
Second, kombucha increases energy. Whatever you eat or drink, you’re essentially sharing with your baby as you nurse. So while you may profit from increasing your energy levels, you need to ask whether your baby needs an energy increase or not. If the answer is no, don’t drink kombucha. Get your probiotics from kefir, sour cream, fermented foods, or supplements instead.
Third, kombucha makes you more “regular.” While this is incredibly helpful for most adults, who suffer from various kinds of digestive stagnation, it may not be helpful to your baby at all. If you drink kombucha while nursing, watch out for overly-loose stools in your baby. You don’t want to risk dehydrating your little one! Remember, with breastfed babies defining diarrhea isn’t so much about frequency of passing stools (some breastfed babies can pass 12 a day while others manage only one every two or three days!), but about how liquid or explosive they are. You’re the mom; you know what’s normal. If their stools start becoming abnormal when you drink kombucha, lay off it.
All that said, please know that I drank kombucha for years while nursing my sons and never noticed any ill effects. My babies were happy, healthy, had regular naps, etc. And by healthy, I mean healthy. My first son didn’t have his first cold until he was 14 months old, and my second son didn’t have his first cold until he was 12 months old.
Wait a minute! You can brew kombucha at home?
For those of you who want to know how, here’s a tutorial on how to brew those tasty flavored kombucha teas at home. If you’re looking to start that process, you can find reliable sources of starter supplies and kombucha “mothers” (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast that start the culture) online at my Resources Page.
(photo by Shira Golding)