As your pregnancy progresses, there is a good chance that you will hear people talking about Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tea and the possible benefits that there might be for you as you get near to the birth of your baby.
Raspberry leaf is as the name might suggest, a tea made from the leaves of the raspberry plant – it is not raspberry tea, a fruit based made using the berry. Native to Northern America and many parts of Europe Raspberry leaves have bee used as a medicinal herb for many years – in fact, there is evidence that as early as the 6th-century pregnant women were drinking a tonic made from raspberry leaves.
Whilst there has been relatively little research carried out into the benefits of raspberry leaf tea, there are widely held beliefs that is it beneficial for pregnant women during the later stages of pregnancy – where it is believed to strengthen the uterus and get the body ready for the birth, childbirth and that it can even help after the birth with breastfeeding.
Is it Safe to Drink in pregnancy?
Raspberry leaf tea is generally considered to be safe to drink in pregnancy. However, it is always a good idea to discuss it with your midwife before starting. There are a couple of things that you should be aware of before adding raspberry leaf tea to your diet.
If you are taking any other type of medication, pregnancy-related or otherwise, you should always consult a medical professional. Raspberry leaf tea is a herbal remedy, and just like a number of other herbal remedies, it can interfere with some forms of medication, in particular, those that you might be taking for diabetes or depression. You should also avoid if:
- You have had a previous labour of 3 hours or less
- You are having a planned c-section for medical reasons
- You have previously had a c-section or a premature labour
- You have experienced vaginal bleeding during the second half of your pregnancy
- Your baby is breech
- You have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, fibroids or endometriosis
- You have had pregnancy complications including high blood pressure
- You are expecting multiples
You might find that your midwife advises against using anything that can interfere with the process of labour. The evidence behind the benefits of raspberry leaf tea is mostly anecdotal – there have been very few studies actually carried out into just how beneficial it can be in pregnancy. And whilst this might be true there is a lot to be said for a positive mental attitude, so if there is no reason for you not to consume raspberry leaf tea, then it may help you to approach labour in a more relaxed position.
The NHS recommends that you should avoid drinking raspberry leaf tea until you are 32 weeks pregnant. It is not advisable to begin drinking it in the second trimester of your pregnancy.
You should also check the leaflet that comes with the tea, or tablets if you, before taking it to ensure that you are taking the right dose.
The only reported side effects of consuming raspberry leaf tea are loose stools, nausea and Braxton Hicks contractions.
The Benefits During Pregnancy
Whilst raspberry leaf tea is most widely known for the benefits that is offered to a woman during pregnancy; it is also believed to be beneficial to those women trying to conceive.
This is particularly so in the case of women who have struggled with fertility issues or who have suffered early pregnancy losses due to menstrual bleeding issues of a weakness of the uterine lining. If raspberry leaf tea is an aid conception, then it is recommended to use it for three months prior to trying to conceive. It can be useful for women in the following circumstances:
- Those who have suffered recurrent miscarriage due to uterine weakness.
- Those who struggle with heavy menstrual bleeding – raspberry leaf tea is high in iron and can assist with anaemia issues.
- Poor egg quality or nutritional deficiency – raspberry leaf tea can help to boost overall nutrition which helps to prepare the body for pregnancy, increasing the chances of a successful outcome. Men also use it to boost their nutrition levels to prepare for conception as well. This can also make it helpful for those couple undergoing IVF treatment.
- Uterine trauma – for those women who have had surgery for endometriosis, ovarian cysts, removal of fibroids, prolapse of the uterus, previous uterine haemorrhage, or a c-section raspberry leaf tea can help with recovery and aid healing of the uterus. Raspberry leaf tea has a toning effect on the uterus, helping it recover more quickly.
During and beyond pregnancy, raspberry leaf tea also has a number of benefits. The main one is that it can help to tone the uterus. This means that when a woman goes into natural labour the walls of the uterus are stronger and can push more effectively during contractions, therefore having the potential to reduce the length of time it takes to give birth. This also has the added benefit of making the third stage of labour, the delivery of the placenta, quicker as well. A toned uterus will also return to normal more quickly after the birth.
It has also been suggested that raspberry leaf tea can also assist with lactation.
Can it Help to Induce labour?
Towards the end of pregnancy, many women begin to feel like they have had enough. They might be struggling with the size of their bump, pregnancy-related issues such as heartburn or pelvic girdle pain (PGP). It is understandable that they might turn to some of those old wives tales regarding inducing labour. It is a misconception that raspberry leaf tea, taken in the correct dosage, can, in fact, bring on labour. What is does do is help to prepare the body for the process of labour, helping it to be more efficient when labour starts. It is not a good idea to consume a larger than recommended dose of raspberry leaf tea in order to induce labour. This can bring on intense contractions that can cause distress to your baby.
Red raspberry leaf tea is very beneficial to anyone who is hoping to have a VBAC birth (vaginal birth after caesarean) as it can help to strengthen the uterus. Whilst it is drank in smaller quantities from 32 weeks of pregnancy, it is especially beneficial if drank at 37 weeks and 38 weeks of pregnancy once you are at term.
Types of Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea are available in a variety of different forms; in fact, it can be a little confusing, deciding which one is the right one for you. You may find it packaged as red raspberry leaf tea, and in fact, there is not a difference between the two.
For those people who enjoy herbal teas then raspberry leaf in the form of tea, which is drank hot or iced, is the easiest way to consume it. It has quite a pleasant fruity taste. You can purchase tea bags, loose-leaf and pure leaf forms of raspberry leaf tea and it is really down to personal preference as to which type you prefer.
If you are not a big fan, and herbal ones in particular, then don’t worry because you can also purchase raspberry leaf tea tablets and even capsules which make it very easy to use during the end of your pregnancy.
If you are purchasing raspberry leaf tea, then it can be a good idea to check the ingredients as not all brands contain the same levels of ingredients.
A good quality raspberry leaf tea, particularly an organic one, with contain a high proportion of raspberry leaf (around 50%) along with smaller quantities of things like hibiscus, nettle and rosehip. There may even be a small percentage of fruit in the tea to make it more palatable. This is a sweet leaf tea and should be drunk black rather than adding milk.
Tea Bags or Tablets?
Raspberry leaf is available in both tea bag, and tablet form and many women find themselves wondering which format they should use it in. There is quite a lot of conflicting advice on the internet; however, there are a few differences between the two types:
Price – when the appropriate dosage is taken into consideration tea bags do work out cheaper than tablets for the recommended dose. Given that Raspberry tea in whatever form can be taken right up to the end of the pregnancy and for a short while postpartum. This can make a considerable saving in cost over time.
Availability – Whilst many of the larger supermarkets and some high street store carry a stock of raspberry leaf tea bags, the tablets are not found in as many stores so may be harder to get.
Dose – The dosage for tablets is two tablets three times a day from 32 weeks. The recommendation with the tea is to start with one cup and gradually increase the dosage over a period of time until you are having 4 to 5 cups a day
Taste – if you like herbal teas then you will probably find the taste of the tea perfectly pleasant, if however, you dislike herbal teas you may find it difficult to drink more than one cup a day, and the tablets may be easier.
Raspberry leaf in teabag form is usually the recommendation of midwives, it is easy to drink, easy to find in the shops and has the added benefit of upping the water intake of the expectant mother. In the end, the choice of tea bags or capsules boils down to personal taste, budget and of course, whether you like the taste or not – there is no right answer.
The Benefits Postpartum
Raspberry leaf tea also offers a number of postpartum benefits to the new mother. In addition to helping with lactation helping to promote a plentiful supply of breastmilk which is especially useful in the early days when both mum and baby might be struggling. It can also assist in reducing postpartum bleeding; there is some evidence to suggest that a simpler birth that requires less intervention can lead to less bleeding following the birth. It can continue to tone the uterus allowing it to return to its pre-birth state quicker.
Following birth, a woman's hormones can be all over the place. This is understandable due to the major life-changing events that have taken place. For many women, these hormones settle down quite quickly; however, some women can find themselves struggling with postpartum depression or baby blues. Raspberry leaf tea can help to regulate these hormones, decreasing the risk of depression.
Where Can I Buy Raspberry Leaf Tea?
If you have decided that you would benefit from drinking raspberry leaf tea, then you will want to know where you can purchase it. There are a number of places online that you can buy Raspberry leaf tea, including Amazon, but it is also available in a number of high street shops and supermarkets which can make it easy to pick up a box with your weekly shopping. The following stores all carry Raspberry Leaf tea:
- Holland and Barrett
There are a number of different brands of Raspberry leaf tea as well, they all taste very similar, but you may find that you prefer the taste of one over another. The popular brands you should find easily include:
Whether you try raspberry leaf tea or not, we’d be interested to know your opinion on using it in pregnancy and whether or not it has worked for you if you have tried it. Why not let us know in the comments about your experience?