Pregnancy comes with its own distinct list of aches and pains, but when you get sick during pregnancy, it can get even tougher. When you aren’t pregnant, any symptom of the cold or flu would have you raiding your medicine cabinet, but now that you’re expecting, you need to find safer alternatives. Do a quick online search and you’ll see thousands of natural cold relief concoctions, with honey and lemon being the most popular. But can you drink hot honey and lemon water while pregnant? Is it safe?
When it comes to things to avoid eating and drinking while pregnant, there’s quite a lot. Foods including raw fish and unpasteurized products such as soft cheeses and deli meats top the list of things doctors tell pregnant people to avoid. That being said, it’s easy to wonder how otherwise commonplace things you consume might affect you while pregnant. Most pregnant people justifiably pause when it comes to everything they think about putting in their bodies. For all you need to know about drinking hot honey and lemon while pregnant, such as why people might do it and when you may need to stop, read on.
Is honey and lemon water during pregnancy safe?
There’s a huge list of things you can’t eat or drink while pregnant, but luckily, lemon water isn’t on that list. Honey is also generally safe to eat or drink while pregnant. “Honey is safe in pregnancy, but it is best to choose pasteurized products,” Dr. Shannon M. Clark, M.D., fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG), and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, explains to Romper. Try to avoid raw honey, which is an unpasteurized product.
Health benefits of honey and lemon water
Honey and lemon water can be the perfect remedy when you’re feeling groggy or under the weather. “A cup of homemade hot lemon and honey tea can actually be very soothing for a sore throat,” Chicago-based pharmacist Bineesh Moyeed, Pharm.D., tells Romper. “Honey in particular has been known to help reduce coughs.” In fact, a 2021 study published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine found that honey may help reduce or shorten symptoms from an upper respiratory tract infection.
Lemon juice, on the other hand, hasn’t been found to significantly impact colds, but lemons are a great natural source of vitamin C and pair well with honey in a hot drink. Outside of home remedies for colds, many people consume drinks with honey and lemon purely because they enjoy them.
When to stop drinking lemon water during pregnancy
The only time lemon and honey may become an issue is if you have gastrointestinal issues. “If you suffer from chronic heartburn or acid reflux, the acidity and sugar from the lemon and honey could be slightly irritating,” Moyeed says. She suggests sipping a little at a time so you can gauge whether or not it is irritating your system or adding to your heartburn.
How to prepare honey and lemon water
Now that you know honey and lemon are safe during pregnancy, you may want to know how to prepare it. The simplest way is to add half a lemon (with the rind) and a tablespoon of raw honey into a mug of boiling water. You can also add additional ingredients, such as ginger pieces and freshly squeezed orange juice. Ginger, for example, is known to have immune-boosting properties and help with digestion, which makes it a great drink to quell morning sickness. If you are in no mood to make a homemade version of this drink, you may be able to find honey lemon tea bags at your local grocery store.
If you are concerned about your health, or have questions about the safety of natural remedies, you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor can give you the advice and treatment options that are appropriate and safe for your specific situation. Getting sick while pregnant can be tough and difficult to manage, but as hard as it may be, try to get some rest. Hopefully with some much-needed rest and a few cups of your hot honey and lemon concoction, you’ll be feeling better in no time.
Abuelgasim, H., Albury, C., & Lee, J. (2021). Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ evidence-based medicine, 26(2), 57–64. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336
Dr. Shannon M. Clark, M.D., MMS, fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG), professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
Bineesh Moyeed, Pharm.D, Chicago-based pharmacist
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