Kombucha During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

You love the tangy, effervescent zip of kombucha, but now that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’re having second thoughts about your habit. Is kombucha during pregnancy safe? Can it offer a pregnant mama any extra benefits?

Well, let me share what the world’s most respected Master kombucha brewers and educators Hannah and Alex of Kombucha Kamp have to say:

If you drank kombucha before pregnancy or breastfeeding and didn’t have any adverse effects, you are probably fine continuing to drink kombucha in moderation (no more than a few ounces at a time, with a max of 8-16 ounce per day, depending on how much you drank before pregnancy.)

I know that I drank it myself with both pregnancies!

What if you’ve never had kombucha before?

If you have never had kombucha before, then pregnancy may not be the best time to begin drinking it.

If you still want to try it to help ward off morning sickness or fatigue, talk to your doctor or midwife. You would want to start very small, consuming only a few tablespoons a day with meals, and notice how you feel. If you are sensitive, have a weakened immunity, or other medical conditions, it would be best to wait until after you are done being pregnant and/or nursing before trying kombucha.

Okay, here’s more info from the experts

Here is some more information from Hannah and Alex’s definitive book, The Big Book of Kombucha regarding drinking kombucha during pregnancy and/or nursing.

How much alcohol is “safe” when pregnant?

Most sources will tell you that alcohol in any amount while pregnant is a dangerous game that puts your baby at serious risk. And while alcoholism and the resulting fetal alcohol syndrome are very serious conditions, the issue isn’t quite so cut and dry.

“A large study looked at 400,000 women in the U.S. All had consumed alcohol during pregnancy. Not a single case of FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) occurred. And no adverse effects occurred when consumption was under 8.5 drinks per week.” (source)

How much alcohol is really in kombucha?

With that being said though, it’s important to know how much alcohol we’re really talking about here. No one’s telling you to throw back a few shots of whisky after supper, but the small amount of alcohol in kombucha is different.  Store bought kombucha has about 1-3% alcohol, while homemade has .5% or less. When kombucha is bottled, either for sale or during a second fermentation, this can increase the alcohol content to that 1-3% level. GT’s Kombucha has two kombucha varieties, one with a higher alcohol content (which you need to be 21 or older to purchase) and a lower alcohol version called GT’s “Enlightened”. Stick with the Enlightened when pregnant and nursing.

Natural fermentation

Common foods like orange juice and bananas naturally contain small amounts of alcohol at around the same levels of kombucha. Even popular brands of cola’s have been found to contain trace amounts of alcohol. The fermentation process is just a natural part of the foods that we eat. (source)

Kombucha chemistry

Kombucha is what’s known as an aerobic ferment, because it needs oxygen. This is why you put a coffee filter, or breathable layer on the kombucha during the first brew. Anyone who has overbrewed their kombucha before knows that this aerobic ferment converts into acetic acid and begins to make vinegar. Kombucha contains a culture called glucuronic acid. The longer glucronbacteria ferments, the less alcohol there is. So if you want to keep your kombucha at the lowest alcohol level possible, don’t drink it before it’s fully matured.

What about detox?

We are constantly bombarded with toxins from our food, air and water, even with our best efforts at eating clean, and living healthy. Making healthy choices greatly reduces the toxic load, but it doesn’t eliminate it completely. Some people are concerned that kombucha can cause a detox reaction, so therefore it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. While an intense cleanse isn’t advised during these times, the more gentle effects of kombucha are similar to your body’s natural, everyday detox processes. If our bodies never eliminated toxins without the help of a heavy handed cleanse, they’d become overburdened pretty quickly.

However, if you are sensitive, it’s best to wait to try kombucha until after your done being pregnant and nursing. A good rule of thumb is if you drank kombucha and didn’t have any adverse reactions before pregnancy, you are most likely just fine consuming during pregnancy and nursing. If you haven’t tried, but want to start when pregnant, talk with your midwife or doctor.

An energy boost

There’s a reason why that bottle of bubbly stuff is so appealing. During pregnancy or breastfeeding your body is burning through more nutrition to feed both you and your little one. This in itself can drain your energy, but add to that other, everyday energy drainers, and maybe even multiple children, and you get one exhausted mamma. Kombucha gives you that kick you need.

“Kombucha boosts energy naturally by delivering micro doses of B vitamins and small amounts of caffeine, both of which energize without the crash and burn cycle of coffee.” (source)

Better digestion

Many women find that their normally functioning digestion goes into all out chaos during pregnancy. Heartburn, constipation and indigestion commonly come with the territory. Fortunately, kombucha can help alleviate all of these symptoms. It also increases stomach acid to improve digestion. If kombucha is brewed for longer and allowed to sour more, the better it is for stomach acid and heartburn, and the alcohol is also less.

Benefits during breastfeeding

In addition to increased energy and better digestion, kombucha offers benefits specifically for the breastfeeding mom. Unfiltered beer is commonly used in Europe to improve breastmilk flow and relax the body. And one study found that:

“97% of women who participated in a study conducted in rural Africa use fermented foods to protect their infants from bacterial contamination during the weaning process which can start as young as 4 months. Without the fear-mongering of for-profit Western medicine hanging over their heads, they have continued the traditional practices of their ancestors with success.” (source)

An adaptogen

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, and it can also cause insomnia, or trouble sleeping for some women. Adaptogens are substances that help your body respond better to stress. Kombucha is a natural adaptogen that helps keep your nerves under control, and you happy. You can even infuse your brew with calming herbs, like chamomile and lavender to increase its relaxing effects.

Leg cramps

Some say that leg cramps during pregnancy can be caused by a lack of calcium. While kombucha itself doesn’t naturally contain calcium, if it’s taken with calcium, it helps to increase the absorption. If you want to further increase your kombucha’s mineral content, then add some clean, crushed eggshells to the ferment for a calcium boost. The acidity of the kombucha will break down the eggshells, and extract their calcium, while increasing carbonation.

How much kombucha during pregnancy should you drink?

Now before you go chugging a liter of kombucha, there are some caveats for safely consuming it during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“As with all beginning kombucha drinkers, a pregnant or nursing mother should not consume more than a couple of ounces of kombucha at a time.” (source)

Mixing a few ounces of kombucha in a glass of water will give you all the benefits of the brew, with extra hydration. Some women report that they develop an aversion to kombucha during pregnancy, while others crave it. Trust your gut on this one, and don’t consume kombucha while pregnant if it’s unappealing to your body right now.

Super SCOBY

Kombucha’s benefits don’t stop with the sweet and tangy liquid. The SCOBY has it’s own benefits. When applied topically, the SCOBY can help minimize stretch marks and can even help with the dreaded pregnancy hemorrhoids.

“ Kombucha reduces topical inflammation, so a small piece of SCOBY or a compress soaked in kombucha and positioned over the affected area can bring relief. Repeat as needed.” (source)

The Big Book of KombuchaCraving more?

There are so many benefits to kombucha, that one article can’t really do it justice.  To get recipes, and even more information on kombucha’s safety and uses during pregnancy and breastfeeding, then be sure to check out this free guide from the experts over at Kombucha Kamp.

If you’d like to dive deeper, buy their new book on Amazon, The Big Book of Kombucha. This is the most comprehensive book on the subject and contains 400 pages full of detailed instructions, tips, troubleshooting, cocktails, history and more! And there are also tons of ways to flavor your nutritious brew with over 400 recipes.

How about you?

Did you drink kombucha during pregnancy? Did you change your kombucha habits at all while pregnant or breastfeeding? Share with us in the comments below.

This article features excerpts from The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum & Alex LaGory. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Photograph by (c) Matt Armendariz.

 

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36 Comments

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  1. Hi! I’ve recently read that studies show green and black tea block folate absorption, which can lead to birth defects, so I switched from kombucha to kevita to be safe. I’ve been trying to find information on if somehow the fermentation process stops that from happening, but haven’t been able to find anything. Do you know anything about this? I miss my kombucha and would love to be able to start drinking it again! Thanks so much!

  2. I love kombucha and found it so helpful for morning sickness during my 4th pregnancy. It amazed me as I had virtually no nausea compared with my earlier pregnancies. I sipped the ginger flavor GT kombucha about 30 minutes before meals. Also really like the green one too. Thanks for spreading the word on the wonders of kombucha for expecting moms (and babies)!

  3. I am at the beginning of the first trimester (with #4) and the nausea is just starting to hit a little. I am so glad I found this article because I have been craving kombucha and suspected it would help with the nausea. I was super sick with my 2nd and never found anything to help. I wish I had been a kombucha drinker back then! (Now sending hubby to the store!😉)

  4. I’m so happy to read this! I was obsessed with Kombucha before pregnancy and began brewing at home as well. When I found out I was pregnant, I did a quick google search that said that it was NOT healthy during pregnancy, so just gave it up immediately. In the early stages of my pregnancy I intentionally did not do a lot of research (which is why I didn’t search further than the first article). So VERY happy to read that I can in fact enjoy a bit of my favorite drink 😀 .

  5. What a timely post! I’m 34 weeks and about 2 months ago got hooked on Kambucha! I’ve had it off and on for several years, but my husband and I just did a 2 month mission trip to Vanuatu (a small Pacific Island nation) and the medical clinic where we were staying and working was brewing Kambucha. I usually had about 8 oz/day with lunch or dinner while we were there, and we had such a blast helping the medical clinic workers invent fun flavor combinations (using frozen fruits, ginger, chai spices, fresh tropical fruit, etc). We got home from our trip last week and I immediately contacted a friend who makes kambucha and got a Scoby. We’re on batch #2. I wasn’t worried about alcohol content because I’m in my third trimester now and my midwife’s standard suggestion for pre-term contractions is to sip a glass of red wine, take a bath, and try to relax – I figured the small amount of alcohol in kambucha wasn’t going to hurt me. I also didn’t worry about the bacteria content – in fact, that’s one of the main reasons I started drinking it (besides curiosity about the fun flavors!) because I want to populate my gut with good bacteria – I do not want to test positive for Group B Strep and need to have antibiotics during labor. So I figured the more probiotics, the better. I also make my own non-dairy yogurt (I’m allergic to milk) for a daily probiotic boost and I’ve been eating that throughout my pregnancy (other than the 10 worst weeks of morning sickness when it made me gag to think about it!), so I figured I’m already pretty exposed to home-fermented probiotics.

  6. Can a breastfeeding mom transfer good probiotics from drinking kombucha to the baby? The baby suffers from loose stools and she suplement with farmacy probiotics.
    Thanks

  7. Beautiful read! Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!

  8. Loved this article! Was wondering if anyone can tell me if kombucha turns acidic or alkaline in your stomach as I have read both on different sites.

  9. Do you have any insight on kombucha as a probiotic? I am 37w5d and find myself on antibiotics for a uti.. bad timing! I am concerned about both me and my babies probiotic healthy during and after delivery because of the antibiotics. I have never had kombucha, though I have been intending to try it. In small doses do you think this would be a good idea to try adding to my diet (already having yogurt and kefir and such) to help counter the effects of the antibiotics? Thanks you

  10. I have always loved kombucha but i didn’t drink it that regularily; it was more of a once in a while treat for myself when i really wanted one. But i am now 12 weeks pregnant and last week my husband and i went out to our forest sanctuary for a hike and a lady was selling kombucha. I bought a beet and ginger kombucha. It helped my stomach settle so nicely! Now i am buying the hibiscus and ginger and i sip on it throughout the day (just a few sips at a time). Just a few sips helps my stomach feel so much better than a normal ginger drink would. I was a little concerned if this was ok though, so this article really helped me. Thank you!

    • Hi JoAnna, i thought i would let you know about some recent reserch on I found about herbs. They highly reccommend NOT to drink hibiscus while pregnant, due to hormones found in hibiscus that can cause you to have contractions as early as the first trimester. There have been many reported miscarriages from woman who had hibiscus in their diet. I just thought i would throw that out there so you can do sone research yourself on herbs and just be cautious of the different random things that are risky during pregnancy . 🙂

  11. I was drinking around 20 oz 5 days a week before pregnancy and love my kombucha! I’m currently 23 weeks pregnant and have contuied to consume kombucha but have cut back to splitting a bottle over 2 days and sip it over a few hours. Love the effects and tangy taste even more now that I’m pregnant. Ps. Mama natural has been my favorite find fit advice and information! Xo

    • For advice*

  12. I’ve always loved kamboocha, and really want to start making it one day but I’ve decided to wait until I wasn’t pregnant or breastfeeding to embark on that endeavour. In the meantime I’m spending a small fortune every month buying the bottled stuff from my local health store. I crave it morning, noon and night. Any fermented food really. It’s the only thing that’s helped my morning sickness and makes me feel happy on the inside.

  13. I use to drink it all the time before i got pregnant with my first almost three years ago… i haven’t had it since… is it still safe for me to start drinking… I’m fifteen weeks today with my second? Thanks.

  14. I made and drank kombucha before pregnancy. It repulsed me for the 1st 3.5 months of pregnancy so much that I had to preserve and hide my SCOBY. I drank some Enlightened GT’s lemon or cranberry during month 4.5-5 and now I am back to not wanting it again. Listen to your body and do your research.

  15. Does the type of tea the Kombucha is made with matter when pregnant? I know you are supposed to limit caffeine and that a lot of herbal teas are not regulated and therefore not recommended. I have made my own at home for a long time and often use green tea and peppermint tea.

    • It’s thought that much of the caffeine is burned through during the fermentation process. Even if it’s not there isn’t much caffeine in tea to begin with.

    • It’s always best to use organic green or black tea for kombucha. Most of the caffeine content is removed through fermentation. It usually contains the equivalent of decaf coffee in terms of caffeine.

      • I would be cautious with peppermint the farther along you get. It can affect milk supply and production, especially when ingesting it.

  16. There is bacteria in almost all the food we eat, I’m not worried in the slight of there being any adverse effects of kombucha on a fetus. I think if you get that paranoid you should eat fully organic, and perhaps not even trust the label and grow your own food. The effects of pesticides in our food as well as preservatives definitely has an effect on our overall health.

    I really like that it suggests mixing a tablespoon with waste through out the day. It evens states that you get the same health benefits. So why not?

    I carried triplets to 34w 5days…5#8oz 5#6oz and 5#1oz all very healthy and happy. I had zero stress the entire pregnancy. Stress and worry is so much more dangerous on your body and baby. Worrying about all the bad is detrimental to your health. Usually just go with your gut on any decision you make so you don’t stress 🙂

    • How much Kombucha did you drink a day?

  17. I was recently about five days late for my period and then sadly it started when I had hoped I might be pregnant.

    In the past two weeks I have started to crave more probiotics and kombucha but I was never a long time drinker.

    I keep reading that it’s only safe to drink Kombucha during pregnancy if you have been a long time drinker? I didn’t cause my own miscarriage drinking it, did I?

    • If drinking kombucha caused you to miscarry, the embryo would have not grown into a healthy fetus and mist likelt would have miscarried at a later date. Did you ever have a confirmed test? Missing your period, or being late is not the definitive mark of pregnancy.

  18. I’m in my last days of hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancy #3. I drank kombucha through most of it. Initially, it was pretty much the only thing I drank, as nothing else stayed down. First pregnancy drinking it, and first pregnancy not ending up hospitalized. I was still heavily medicated, but never required IV meds or fluids/nutrition.

  19. How about making your own? How safe is it to be drinking it, I was making my own before but after being pregnant I tone down my booch intake to none since I was making my own. Anything I need to be worried about since its homemade?

    • Yes, as long as you don’t over ferment it.

  20. I drank kombucha before my pregnancy. I have been craving it and have been drinking it occasionally during this pregnancy but I have been worried about it’s safety. After reading this article, I will not worry anymore. Thank you!

  21. I drank kombucha before and during my pregnancy, though about halfway through pregnancy I started to feel like it was giving my blood sugar spikes for some reason. However, it was my favorite morning sickness/first tri. nausea treatment! Ginger kombucha is still my son’s favorite : )

  22. I was a kombucha drinker before pregnancy and continued during. I actually think I drank more while pregnant, especially that last trimester when I was really craving it!

  23. Thank you for this article!
    I am a big kombucha fan. I made my own for a long time then switched to store bought for the ease after my first baby. I was a pretty daily kombucha drinker before and have continued through pregnancy and breastfeeding. I feel great and really crave it, especially the ginger! I appreciate this article after receiving many comments and negative looks while drinking kombucha during pregnancy. My midwives told me there is less alcohol in kombucha than in non alcoholic beer.

    • Oh good! Glad it was helpful. Enjoy your booch, mama. And CONGRATS! Be sure to sign up for our free week-to-week email series for pregnant mamas. Xo

  24. Thanks for this post! I tried to do some of my own research on how safe it is during pregnancy but I didn’t find that much info, so this was perfect timing.

  25. I find that kombucha makes me fart a bit – I don’t mind, but my father does, the old hypocrite!- and the taste reminds me of cider vinegar, especially if it’s made with black tea. I prefer the green tea ‘booch I bought from the Chocolate Love Temple in Glastonbury. 🙂

  26. We love our kombucha! This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to let you know that I had subscribed to the weekly pregnancy alerts and then suddenly stopped receiving them. I recently resubscribed and started getting them again.

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