Chamomile Tea When Breastfeeding: Safety, Benefits And Precautions

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Chamomile tea is a popular beverage prepared by steeping dried chamomile flowers in boiling water. It is widely popular for its calming effects and distinctive therapeutic properties. You may consider taking chamomile tea when breastfeeding for its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and lactogenic effects. However, most of these effects aren’t well researched.

Hence, the effect of chamomile tea on lactating women and their nursing babies is still unclear. Keep reading to know more about the safety of chamomile tea for lactating women, its effects on breast milk supply, possible benefits, and precautions you should observe while drinking it.

Is It Safe To Consume Chamomile Tea When Breastfeeding?

The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) categorizes chamomile as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) to use as a spice, seasoning, or flavoring agent (1). However, the safety of chamomile tea for lactating mothers and nursing infants lacks clinical evidence. Therefore, consult a doctor or lactation expert before adding chamomile tea to your diet. Your healthcare provider can also guide you about the safe intake limit of the tea.

Does Chamomile Tea Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that chamomile tea has galactagogue effects (1) (2). But, the effects may vary among breastfeeding mothers. There is also insufficient research to establish its effects on breast milk production. The best way to increase milk production is through nursing on demand, or pumping regularly.

Possible Benefits of Chamomile Tea When Lactating

Consumption of chamomile tea may provide the following benefits to breastfeeding mothers.

  1. May give you a good sleep: A randomized clinical trial demonstrated the possible effectiveness of chamomile tea in alleviating depression and improving sleep quality in postpartum women (3). This effect is attributed to apigenin, a flavonoid that may promote sleep (4).
  1. May control anxiety and panic issues: A few pieces of research suggest that chamomile oil may have anti-depressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects (4) (5).
  1. May boost immunity: Some herbalists claim that chamomile tea can boost immunity and help fight infections associated with cold. However, clinical studies to validate this claim are insufficient (4).
  1. May improve digestive health: Chamomile has been used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal issues, such as indigestion, gas, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  1. May enhance overall health: Research studies indicate the anti-diabetic and cardioprotective effects of chamomile tea (6) (7) (8). Bioactive compounds, like apigenin, quercetin, patuletin, luteolin, etc., have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects responsible for these benefits (9).  Apart from these, flavonoids, like those found in chamomile tea, may help manage other conditions, such as osteoporosis (4) (10).

Consult your healthcare provider regarding the use of chamomile tea with a well-balanced breastfeeding diet to reap its health benefits.

How To Select Chamomile Tea?

If you are consuming chamomile tea, buy a good quality variety, and store it correctly.

  1. Buy tea manufactured by a reliable brand and sold at a trustworthy store. It ensures that you get unadulterated chamomile tea, processed with hygiene standards. Go for brands that are USDA-certified organic.
  1. Prefer tea bags to loose tea to avoid contamination. Loose chamomile tea sold in herbal stores may have contaminants, like spores, that may trigger allergic reactions. Teabags may minimize the risk of contamination. If you like loose tea, then choose a factory-sealed pack.
  1. Check the ingredient list for added ingredients. Several over-the-counter herbal teas contain more than one herb and other added ingredients (11). For instance, some common additives you may find in chamomile tea are star anise, buckhorn bark, comfrey, and senna.

Store the tea bag or loose tea in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

[ Read: Detox While Breastfeeding ]

Precautions To Take While Consuming Chamomile Tea During Lactation

Observe the following precautions while making chamomile tea a part of your diet.

  1. Look out for any side effects when consuming the tea for the first time. Common side effects include nausea, dizziness, and abdominal discomfort.
  1. Prepare the tea as directed on the pack. Highly concentrated tea may cause nausea and vomiting.
  1. If you are on prescribed medication during lactation, then let the doctor know that you consume chamomile tea. It can help avoid any possible drug interactions.
  1. Do not pick chamomile tea or any herbal tea advertised to boost milk production without proper guidance. Such products are likely to have more than one herb and some added ingredients that may not be safe during lactation.
  1. Discontinue consuming chamomile tea if you develop allergy symptoms, such as wheezing, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and skin rash (12). Chamomile allergy is likely to happen in individuals allergic to other plants in the daisy family, such as ragweed and chrysanthemum (4) (13).

Stop consuming the tea and consult a doctor if you notice any allergy symptoms in the baby or if the baby does not seem to be getting adequate milk.

Consuming chamomile tea when breastfeeding is usually considered safe. However, it is good to check with your healthcare provider before starting its regular intake. Chamomile tea is known to improve breast milk production, but more research is required to establish the claim. Nevertheless, it is a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that may benefit overall health by improving digestion, immunity, and sleep. But ensure you know the safe limits and choose a reliable brand before purchasing chamomile tea to enjoy its benefits.

References:

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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different... more

Rebecca Koyf

(IBCLC, CLC)
Rebecca Koyf is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC),Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and a LaLeche League volunteer. She has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and worked as an Auditor for the NYC Comptroller’s Office for 8 years. Her own breastfeeding struggles made her change her career and pursue the field in lactation. She has her... more

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