For centuries herbs have been used as medicine and the results are often very beneficial. Herbal remedies can be used to treat illness, maintain and promote good health and prepare the body for changes such as those during pregnancy. Much of our allopathic medicine used today came from herbs. Not all herbal remedies are recommended during pregnancy so it's important to research them and talk to your health care provider before beginning something new.
Red Raspberry leaves are safe and helpful during childbearing years and during pregnancy. It is nutrient rich and contains many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy including vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.
The herb comes in forms of leaves to make teas or tonics as well as pill like capsules you can swallow. When taken as a tea, it is hydrating so it can count towards your daily fluid intake.
When shopping for the tea, do not confuse this with raspberry flavors of tea. It must be raspberry leaf tea. (It will not taste like raspberries, but more like green tea.)
Other's caution against that and think it's best to wait until the second or third trimester to start red raspberry leaf, especially if you are classified as high risk. In the U.K. many midwives believe that spotting during early pregnancy can result from drinking the tea as well as an increase in early miscarriage. During the later part of pregnancy it's often recommended to drink 2-3 cups per day. Red Raspberry leaf tea contains a bunch of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin c and calcium and an alkaloid called fragrine, which may help tone the uterus. It can be especially beneficial for women who are planning a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) since their uterus was cut open during a c-section.
Red Raspberry Leaves do not start or encourage labor. It can help the contractions to be productive once true labor has begun because it strengthens the uterine and pelvic muscles but it is not an oxytonic herb (one that would induce labor). Research has found that taking Raspberry Leaf during the weeks prior to delivery helps to shorten the second stage of labour by making contractions more effective. Some studies have also found that it reduces the need for an assisted delivery (i.e. an emergency cesarean or use of forceps or ventouse). Sipping raspberry leaf tea during and after the birth is also said to help the uterus contract back down to size, reduce after birth bleeding and help initiate the let down of breastmilk.
That being said it's important to talk with your midwife, obstetrician or herbalist before beginning drinking red raspberry leaf tea or taking a supplement. Some will recommend you wait until you are 36 weeks along before incorporating the tea into your health regime while others may encourage you to begin right away. Each situation and pregnancy is different so it's best to get other's opinions before beginning red raspberry leaf tea.
You can purchase ready made tea bags from a local health food store or buy the dried leaves in bulk and make your own. You can boil 1 cup of water and then pour over 2 teaspoons of red raspberry leaves (dried) and steep for 10 minutes. If using loose leaves you will need to strain out the pieces. Pill like capsules can also be purchased from a vitamin or organic store and it's usually recommended to take 1-3 a day depending on your needs.
Outside of Pregnancy,
Raspberry tea can also help with painful menstruation cramps, and can lessens an over-abundant flow, and even shorten length of the bleeding cycle.
At menopause the adrenals are geared to take over as the ovaries gradually cease functioning; many menopausal symptoms are caused by exhausted adrenals. The herb best suited to help is raspberry leaf. Men in mid-life crisis with exhausted adrenals are well-advised to drink the tea also.