As mate contains caffeine, consumption during pregnancy should be assessed, especially in South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, in which this drink is part of everyday life.
Caffeine is an element which acts as a stimulant of the central nervous system, bringing about a state of sharpness and a temporary elimination of tiredness. Caffeine is not only found in coffee; it is also present in chocolate, tea, carbonated water, energy drinks and, to a lower degree, in yerba mate.
There’s almost complete agreement that pregnant women should reduce – and sometimes, remove – caffeine from their diet. Scientific studies show that the consumption of caffeine over 200/300 mg is linked to low birthweight in newborns. A further negative effect of caffeine is the higher production of gastric juice, which could worsen the feeling of acid reflux.
Nutritionist Julieta Lupardo (Halitus Medical Institute, BA, Argentina) explains that pregnant women ought not to consume more than 200 mg of caffeine a day, not just as found in coffee but in any caffeinated drink. Mate “cebado” (dehydrated leaves and hot water in a mate container), contains 125 to 175 mg of caffeine (three spoons of yerba and 500 ml of water). With boiled mate, for instance, a tea bag in a mug of water can provide between 15 and 20 mg of caffeine.
“Provided that quantity is monitored, mate should not be an issue during pregnancy. However, it is key to consider other sources of caffeine so the future mother does not surpass the acceptable amount a day”.
Therefore, pregnant women can have a cup of boiled mate – that with chamomile and anise could have more virtues – or even an occasional mate in a gourd (no more than half a litre), if other caffeinated drinks are limited.
It is always recommendable to adapt the daily habits to the health of the baby. These are a few drinks – apart from water, which is basic – pregnant women can drink: natural juice, decaffeinated coffee and tea, light or diet soda (only occasionally), milk, alcohol-free beer… and, needless to say, yerba mate! The key thing is to have a conscious and moderate diet, closely supervised by a reliable specialist.