You’re in your third trimester and the issues of feeling nauseous and the changes in your shape have moved on to questions about how your baby is positioned and what kind of birth you should choose. You may also be keen to learn more about what has been most helpful and effective for other mothers in easing the process of giving birth.
You will hear many tales of various methods of self-help, from sitting on a swing, or eating 100 pineapples, to acupuncture, but one constant appears to be raspberry leaf tea. It would seem that of all the other natural methods of inducing the start of labor and decreasing its time-span, raspberry leaf comes out as a tried and tested winner. Many women also report that it reduces the leg cramps and swelling associated with pregnancy.
What is red raspberry leaf tea?
Raspberry leaves can be taken in tablet form or as a tincture, but the most popular form is to take it as herbal tea, either using tea bags or loose-leaf. It is recognized as a safe herb both for use during pregnancy and in preparation for labor. Raspberry leaves are packed with serious nutrients, such as vitamin C, manganese, fibre, copper, vitamin K, pantothenic, acid, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
In herbology, raspberry leaf tea is hailed as the herb which has lots of benefits for women: increasing fertility, helping to relieve the strength of contractions, reducing symptoms of PMS, such as cramp, irritability and depression. It has also been reported that it may relieve morning sickness and increase milk production. But what does the research say?
One small study found that women who regularly drank raspberry leaf tea had a shorter second stage of labor and were less likely to have an instrumental delivery. It was also found to lessen the need for artificial rupture of membranes (ARM). An abstract published by PubMed.gov highlights positive findings.
What are the benefits of raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy?
Raspberry leaf has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is the most popular herb for use during pregnancy, proving to be particularly useful during the third trimester. The stimulating properties of raspberry leaf both strengthen and tone the uterine and pelvic muscles, while its soothing properties relax the uterus. There are reports that raspberry leaf tea may help to allay diarrhea, prevent hemorrhage, and ease nausea, but no trial results are yet available to support these claims.
Raspberry leaves have been a well-known aid to encouraging safe, easy childbirth for centuries; they are said to speed recovery from the birth itself and to stimulate milk production afterward. The calming effect of the leaves is thought to reduce the pain of uterine contractions, making them more effective and productive, and thereby shortening the duration of labor.
When should you start drinking raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy?
Should you decide this herb is something you wish to try, then when would be the right time to start using it? Raspberry leaf tea works best if you allow several weeks for it to build up in your body. It is therefore recommended that you begin taking it when you’re about 32 weeks pregnant. It is advisable to start with small doses, for instance, one cup of tea a day, gradually increasing to three cups.
Because the chemicals in the tea work their way through your body in the same way as a drug, it is recommended that it should be taken in moderation. For this reason, care should be taken to keep track of how many cups of raspberry tea you are taking on a daily basis. You may wish to verify that the product you choose has been organically grown.
Some situations to take careful of drinking red raspberry leaf tea
Even though there is no in-depth scientific research to back up any claims that there are any negative or positive effects from taking it, some experts would advise caution in the following events:
- Where previous labor lasted three hours or less.
- Where there are plans for a caesarean section.
- If you have had a caesarean section before.
- Where you have previously had a premature birth.
- Where there has been an incidence of vaginal bleeding in the second half of pregnancy.
- Where twins are expected.
- If there is an instance of breast or ovarian cancer in personal or family history.
- Where there have been complications or health problems in pregnancy.
It is, of course, up to you to make an informed choice of whether or not to use raspberry leaf, but maybe you should stop and ask yourself why you want to drink it? Possibly our obsession with helping nature do its job stems from our own insecurities and fear of not being able to birth our babies ourselves.
The baby won’t stay in there forever, so obsessing over the easiest way to get this baby out may only lead to frustration and stress, which will produce cortisol and other hormones not conducive to easy labor anyway. Perhaps an alternative panacea is to simply relax, get pampered and enjoy every moment of being pregnant. Trust your body and your baby and stop trying to push an eject button. ‘The apple will fall when it’s ripe.’