Kombucha is a very well-loved drink in our household; we drink a bottle almost daily, especially after we started brewing our own! When I became pregnant, I wanted to make sure kombucha was okay to continue drinking, especially since it usually contains trace amounts of alcohol due to the fermentation process (by the action of yeasts on the sugar in kombucha).
A quick Google search proved fruitless, as only two websites discussed this issue in a more thoughtful manner. One website was from a fellow homebrewer who drank kombucha during her pregnancy and experienced no ill side-effects, although she cautioned pregnant women anyway. Another website was a mommy forum, where various women who were kombucha drinkers before pregnancy recommended against kombucha due to its mild alcoholic properties. These websites were a good start, but I knew there had to be more information out there, given that fermented drinks are common in traditional societies where pregnancy also occurs.
So far, I’ve found our homebrewed kombucha tastes better than ever during my pregnancy! Being pregnant during the summer is not for the weak, and a glass of chilled, bubbly kombucha has been a very refreshing pick-me-up (and also satisfies my need for something a little sweeter and more flavorful than water). And if you were like me, a pick-me-up was necessary quite often during my first trimester because I felt fatigued every single day for three months! Kombucha helped supply me with mineral ions that were depleted during perspiration, and I learned recently that kombucha is even better than plain water at quenching thirst because it contains dilute sugars and electrolyte of minerals, which are absorbed faster and retained longer than plain water (a fact used to encourage the drinking of commercial sports drinks, but if you read the ingredients on these labels, you’ll see that they contain A LOT of sugar and not many electrolytes).
Kombucha also aids in digestion because it contains lactobacilli, lactic-acid, and enzymes. I noticed my dietary habits changed as my pregnancy began: I ate less at mealtimes, but I wanted to eat throughout the day (many pregnancy advisors will suggest eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of big meals because progesterone slows your digestive system). I’ve been drinking kombucha almost consistently throughout my pregnancy so I don’t have a control to compare this experience to, but I know that I’ve experienced less constipation so far, and I believe it’s due to kombucha! Furthermore, the only time I ever experienced morning sickness (in the evening) was when I was not drinking kombucha and had not drunk any for a week or two (because our batch had spoiled from a gnat invasion when we were out of town). That evening, I felt extremely nauseous and vomited my lunch over multiple trips to the bathroom. The only thing I wanted at that time was something ginger-y, so my husband went and bought some of GT’s ginger-flavored kombucha. Since then, I have resumed drinking kombucha almost daily (approximately 6-8oz once or twice a day), and I have not experienced nausea again. A few weeks later, I was reading Sally Fallon’s cookbook and learned that kombucha, with its liver-supporting properties, can help prevent morning sickness!
If you’re pregnant and want to drink kombucha but are worried about the alcoholic fermentation, you can minimize it by adding whey or a little sea salt! If you’re new to drinking kombucha, try a little bit first to make sure you and your baby like it 🙂
I learned a lot about kombucha from Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.