I'm not exactly what you would call a risk taker. In fact, the amount of times per day that "better safe than sorry" comes out of my mouth is kind of gross. The ante is only upped when it comes to my daughter. I am not beyond extra sunscreen, excessive label reading, and checking on my purse stash of Band-Aids. When I was breastfeeding, a rash or particular puke-y day led me to worry about what I was eating, and the same went for one of my favorite drinks — kombucha. "Can you drink kombucha while breastfeeding?" I wondered. Experts say the information is iffy.
"At this point I would advise against drinking kombucha until further studies are performed," Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a board-certified gastroenterologist and creator of @HappyGutMD, says in an email interview with Romper. According to Dr. Thomas Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk: 14th Edition, a popular reference for breastfeeding mothers, Kombucha tea is classified as an L5. Bulsiewicz says that "basically means that it's contraindicated due to concern for harm. It may be overly cautious, but until we have safety data, I wouldn't recommend drinking kombucha while breastfeeding."
So, what are the touted benefits of this fermented tea anyway? Known as the "immortal health elixir," kombucha contains a large number of healthy bacteria known as probiotics, according to the Dr. Axe website. The bacteria that forms as a result of fermenting a combination of black tea and sugar, like honey or fruit, support a healthy digestive tract and immune system. Water kefir and fermented foods, like sauerkraut, serve a similar purpose.
Writer Anna Gannon noted in her Mind Body Green piece about the topic that, "after further research, I found that the FDA does not require a label for alcohol if the product contains 0.5 percent alcohol or less," leading her to question the safety of this rule for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. "After all, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, alcohol consumption while breastfeeding should be avoided, and even with an occasional small intake, women should wait two hours before nursing," Gannon wrote.
Like Bulsiewicz, WebMD says kombucha tea is possibly unsafe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, therefore encouraging mothers to err on the side of caution and avoid use when nursing.
Ah, yes — staying on the side of safety is something this cautious mom likes to hear. If you have questions, then chat with your doctor about whether or not a bit of kombucha might be tolerated while breastfeeding.
On the other hand, you could also just hear what I am hearing, and it sounds a lot like "you should just eat pizza instead."