Raspberry tea labor
I've heard that raspberry leaf tea in pregnancy can help to make labour easier. If so, when should I start taking it and how much should I take?
It's hard to say for certain, because there is little research on the benefits of raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf tea, also known as red raspberry leaf, is a herbal remedy. It's not the same as raspberry fruit tea.
Raspberry leaf tea is thought to tone the muscles of your uterus (womb) to help it work better during labour. The idea is not so much to speed up your labour, but to help it to progress at a nice, steady pace. Because raspberry leaf tea takes several weeks to accumulate in your body, it won't work to bring on labour if you are overdue.
Nobody knows how long your labour will last. Some moms-to-be have labours that are very long and slow. This is called failure to progress. It is one of the main reasons why you may need a caesarean section. One study did find that women who drank the tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had a shorter second, pushing stage of labour than those who didn't.
Some doctors and midwives think it is not a good idea to take anything that might interfere with your labour. Our bodies are designed to give birth without any help. Trying to change the course of this natural process could be seen as just another way to induce or speed up your labour.
If you have already had a baby and your labour went smoothly first time around, there is no need for you to drink raspberry leaf tea for. The fact is that raspberry leaf tea is not right for everyone. Don't take it if:
- you've already had a baby and your labour was very short, three or fewer hours from start to finish
- you're scheduled to have a planned caesarean for a medical reason
It would also be wise not to drink raspberry leaf if:
If you do decide to try raspberry leaf tea, let your doctor or midwife know that you are planning to drink it. It will work best if you start taking the tea when you're about 32 weeks pregnant. This will give it enough time for it to build up in your body. Begin with one cup a day, gradually increasing to three cups. If you don't like the taste of the tea, you can buy raspberry leaf capsules or a raspberry leaf tincture in health food stores.
During early labour, while you are at home, you can either sip hot tea or suck ice cubes made from the tea. You could also take a flask of the tea with you into hospital. Don't drink the tea if your labour is being induced or if you are having treatment with a hormone drip to speed up labour.
You may like to drink raspberry leaf tea after your baby is born. It's thought to:
- boost your immune system, because of the vitamins and minerals it contains
- help your uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnant shape
- fight infection, because it has antibacterial qualities
This article was written using the following sources:
Eagon PK, Elm MS, Hunter DS, et al. 2000. Medicinal herbs: modulation of estrogen action. Breast Cancer Res Prog 8-11
Holst L, Haavik S, Nordeng H. 2009. Raspberry leaf - should it be recommended to pregnant women? Complement Ther Clin Pract 15(4):204-8
Johnson JR, Makaji E, Ho S, et al. 2009. Effect of maternal raspberry leaf consumption in rats on pregnancy outcome and the fertility of the female offspring. Reprod Sci. 16(6):605-9
McFarlin BL, Gibson MH, O'Rear J, et al. 1999. A national survey of herbal preparation use by nurse-midwives for labor stimulation. Review of the literature and recommendations for practice. J Nurse Midwifery 44:205-16
Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, et al. 2005. Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci 77:194-204
Mullen W, McGinn J, Lean ME, et al. 2002. Ellagitannins, flavonoids, and other phenolics in red raspberries and their contribution to antioxidant capacity and vasorelaxation properties. 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