Raspberry Leaf Tea and Preparing for Birth
Raspberry Leaf has been used in traditional herbal medicine for a variety of conditions relating to the female reproductive tract, especially during pregnancy and to facilitate delivery.
Its major actions are astringent, partus preparator (prepares the uterus for labour and/or assists with childbirth) and parturifacient (inducing or easing labour in childbirth).
With its ability to relax the muscles of the uterus, it has been used for painful periods, its astringency for helping diarrhoea, but it is best known for its ability to assist with childbirth.
Raspberry Leaf has been in use as a uterine tonic and general pregnancy tea for at least two centuries, and in the USA, 175 nurse-midwives were surveyed with 90 using herbal preparations. Approximately 63% recommended Raspberry Leaf. Its popularity has led to lots of research, including the gold standard double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised trial.
These trials have suggested that Raspberry Leaf is safe to take during pregnancy for both mother and baby, with the expected outcome of a shortened second stage of labour, less likelihood of pre-term or post-term birth and fewer obstetric interventions like cesarean section, forceps delivery and vacuum extraction. Basically an improved labour outcome and reduced need for medical intervention at birth. More studies and data on this therapeutic herb will follow in the future.
Raspberry Leaf is not used to induce labour - its actual role is to increase blood flow to the uterus and aid the uterine muscle fibres in more organised contraction.
Of all the herbs that might be considered for labour preparation, Raspberry Leaf appears to be the safest. It is also nourishing, containing vitamins A, C and E, calcium, iron and potassium and many midwives and herbalists consider it best taken as a tea - 1 to 3 cups a day once you reach the 32 week mark of your pregnancy.
One caution for use exists and that is in the first and possibly the second trimester, primarily because of concern of stimulating the uterine tone and potentially causing a miscarriage. That is not a known fact, but it is a caution so worth following.
Raspberry Leaf can also be used during labour as a warming tea. We have just launched our new Raspberry Leaf Tea - now available.
Amanda Hunter ND