When you’re pregnant, there are so many things that you have to remember. How to exercise, when to go to the doctor or see your healthcare professional, what kinds of medications and supplements you can or can’t take, what to eat, and even what to drink (or what not to drink). Some off-limits beverages, like alcohol and too much caffeine from coffee, tea, and soda, you’ve probably heard are a no-go many times before. Others, like smoothies and electrolyte sports drinks, might be less well-known. If you’re a little bit confused about what you (or another VIP pregnant woman in your life) should or shouldn’t be drinking over the course of those nine long months, here’s what you need to know.
Pregnant or not, one of the most important things you should be drinking each and every day is water. “The best choice when it comes to a drink for pregnant women is water,” said Natalie B. Allen, a registered dietitian and clinical instructor of dietetics at Missouri State University. “The amniotic fluid needs to be replenished and water helps the baby in many ways.”
Water keeps your cells all over your body well-hydrated and just generally helps your body be as healthy as it can. According to Healthline, pregnant ladies need to drink about 80 ounces of water every single day, which is probably more than you’re used to drinking when you’re not pregnant. If you’re going to breastfeed after giving birth, you’ll have to drink even more water.
If you have any specific questions about how much water you should be drinking while you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor or another qualified health professional and they should be able to help provide some clarity.
Drink: Orange juice
Orange juice is another very good beverage choice for pregnant women. Allen says it’s a good idea to make sure the orange juice you’re drinking is fortified with calcium, which is important for bone health.
“I recommend my patients take their prenatal vitamin with orange juice,” said Allen. “The Vitamin C in the juice will enhance iron absorption and orange juice also contains folate, which is important in neurological fetal development.” Make sure the orange juice you’re drinking is pasteurized to minimize the risk of any food pathogens that could potentially be lurking in fresh-squeezed juices.
“You can’t beat dairy milk with its combination of protein, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals,” said Allen. “The baby’s bones develop the most in the last trimester, so add a glass of milk daily, particularly as the pregnancy progresses.”
You knew that calcium and other vitamins and minerals were important for your own bones, but the vitamins and minerals you eat and drink also aid in the baby’s development. Like with juice, it’s important to make sure that the milk you’re drinking during your pregnancy is pasteurized.
Drink: Red raspberry leaf tea
If you’ve been searching the online pregnancy chat boards, you’ve likely received a tip to drink red raspberry leaf tea during your pregnancy. In an interview with Fit Pregnancy, Amelia Hirota, an herbalist and acupuncturist, said that the idea behind drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy is that it will help to tone the muscles of the uterine wall, ultimately making contractions more effective and labor more efficient. For most pregnant women, that probably sounds pretty good. Remember to make sure your tea doesn’t have any weird fillers that might not be so good for pregnancy.
One of the best parts about drinking smoothies is that you can pack an entire meal’s worth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more into one delicious, slurp-able beverage that you can drink at home or on the go. Allen recommends smoothies made from spinach, yogurt, and berries so you get a wide variety of nutrients. You can also add other fruits, vegetables, and dairy — you can switch up your morning (or afternoon) smoothie nearly every single day. Delicious and versatile.
Drink: Electrolyte sports drink
It might seem surprising to see electrolyte sports drinks on a list of drinks that women should drink during pregnancy, but, according to Allen, they can serve an important purpose.
“Some moms may experience leg cramps during pregnancy. If this happens, try a sports drink, as the electrolytes and fluid will help alleviate the cramp,” she said. Often, store-bought sports drinks are full of sugar, so read the label before choosing your drink.
Drink: Nettle leaf tea
Nettle leaf tea is another good option for expectant moms. In an interview with Fit Pregnancy, Hirota said that it’s a good source of many vitamins and minerals including potassium, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K.
If you’re going to drink nettle leaf tea while you’re pregnant, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure that the tea is labeled nettle leaf and doesn’t contain nettle roots. Additionally, Hirota said that you shouldn’t drink too much in the first trimester, but it’s safe to drink in the second and third trimesters, though it’s still important not to drink too much of it.
Don’t drink: Sugary drinks
Drinking too many sugary drinks while pregnant could be why you’ve gained more weight while pregnant than you (or your doctor or other health professional) thought you would. Allen says these drinks aren’t harmful to the baby, but usually aren’t all that nutritious.
Additionally, if you develop a condition like gestational diabetes, watching your sugary drink intake can be even more important. Occasional sugary drinks are probably okay, but it’s best to avoid them throughout your pregnancy.
Don’t drink: Alcohol
According to a report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, absolutely no level of drinking during pregnancy is safe, given the fact that developmental disorders and birth defects related to the consumption of alcohol are “completely preventable” if the pregnant woman doesn’t drink.
While there are plenty of stories out there about this ob-gyn or that midwife saying that an occasional glass of wine is okay, to minimize the risk of alcohol-related defects, it’s best not to drink while pregnant.
Don’t drink: Unpasteurized milk
Unpasteurized milk (also called raw milk) can, according to Allen, have dangerous bacteria growing in it, which could make you sick and potentially — depending on the type of bacteria — cause miscarriage. The pasteurization process heats the milk and kills off the bacteria, making it a safer option, especially when you’re pregnant.
Don’t drink: Caffeinated coffee or tea
While you’re pregnant, you have to monitor (and limit) your daily caffeine intake. “Limit caffeine to 200 mg per day, which is about one, 12 oz cup of coffee,” recommended Allen. When considering if you should have that afternoon jolt of caffeinated coffee, it’s important to remember that you might have gotten caffeine from other sources throughout the day. Chocolate and tea are both common sources in addition to coffee.
It’s still best to check with your doctor or other healthcare professional about caffeine intake because they’ll be able to give you exacting specifications that fit you, your health, and your normal caffeine intake.
Don’t drink: Bottled or tap water that could contain lead
If you live in an old house or apartment complex that still has (or might have) lead pipes, you might want to have your tap water tested to make sure that it’s safe before drinking it, especially if you’re pregnant.
According to WebMD, high levels of lead can cause low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays. Because some bottled water is also municipal water that’s simply been bottled and sold, read any labels carefully before drinking it while you’re pregnant. Better safe than sorry.
Don’t drink: Eggnog
While it may be your favorite way to partake in holiday cheer, eggnog — homemade in particular — should generally be avoided while you’re pregnant. According to foodsafety.gov, eggnog, especially any homemade eggnogs that might be made with raw eggs, could contain salmonella, which can make you very sick. If you’re going to make eggnog, make sure that you cook it to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any potentially dangerous bacteria. Buying pasteurized eggnog should also help minimize your risk.
Don’t drink: Fresh-squeezed juices or cider
Fresh-squeezed juices and ciders are delicious and nutritious, but they can be potentially dangerous for expectant mothers. According to WebMD, regardless of if you buy these products at a farmers market or farm stand or at the grocery store, it can potentially be contaminated with dangerous bacteria such as E.coli. Your safest bet is to only purchase pasteurized juice and cider — and check to make sure friends, family members, and the restaurants you eat at are all serving pasteurized juices too. Otherwise, to minimize your risk, avoid fresh-squeezed juice and cider entirely.
Not all beverages are good for drinking while pregnant
While there are many healthy, nutritious beverages that you can drink all throughout your pregnancy, there are other beverages that you’re likely better off avoiding altogether. Whether they risk making you sick, hurting the baby, or just really aren’t all that healthy — always follow your healthcare professional’s advice for what to drink and what to avoid — abstaining from drinking those drinks might help keep you safer for an all-around happier, healthier pregnancy. After all, pregnancy will be over before you know it.