Is raspberry leaf tea beneficial?
You might have heard people talking about raspberry leaf tea and be wondering what the benefits are and whether you should be drinking it.
Raspberry leaf tea is a type of caffeine free herbal tea which is packed with vitamins and minerals. It has a number of health benefits but the reason you are likely to have heard it discussed alongside pregnancy is that some people believe it can help encourage labour to start.
Will raspberry leaf tea bring on labour?
You may hear people swearing on the effectiveness of raspberry leaf tea and claiming that it helped them go into labour. Whilst there's no guarantee that it will help your labour, raspberry leaf tea has a very long traditional use to doing this and small scale studies are starting to show that it may even shorten the second stage of labour
A study* at a large tertiary-level hospital in Sydney, Australia found that raspberry leaf, taken from 32 weeks’ gestation until labour, caused no adverse effects for mother or baby, and although it did not shorten labour, a lower rate of forceps deliveries between the treatment group and the control group (19.3% vs. 30.4%) was observed. An additional study* of 57 women showed that those who drank raspberry leaf tea had fewer interventions in birth and a shorter second stage of labour.
That said, it shouldn’t be considered a magic potion that you can take when you want to meet your baby. It does however have a number of benefits which may make you want to consider drinking it when you are in the late stages of pregnancy. Please note that you should not drink raspberry leaf tea before 32 weeks of pregnancy because whilst there's no statistical evidence that raspberry leaf will induce labour, fragrine (found within the leaf) has been shown to make uterine muscles contract in lab tests, so it is important not to risk drinking it any earlier than this
What are the benefits of drinking raspberry leaf tea?
Raspberry leaf contains an alkaloid known as fragrine, which is believed to help strengthen the muscles of your uterus. This can obviously be beneficial in labour as the stronger your uterus is, the more effective your labour will be.
Some people believe drinking raspberry leaf tea can make your contractions more productive and reduce the amount of time you spend in labour, particularly in the second stage of labour when you are actually pushing your baby out.
Of course, there is no way to know for sure that your labour would have been longer if you hadn’t drunk raspberry leaf tea or shorter if you had. But for many women, just the idea that it might help is enough to get them reaching for the teabags.
There are some postnatal benefits to drinking raspberry leaf tea too. It can help your uterus return back to its normal size after you’ve had your baby and it is thought that it can help reduce the amount of bleeding after birth too.
And if you’re breastfeeding, it could help your milk come in. In the past, many women believed drinking raspberry leaf tea helped boost their milk display and while any evidence is purely anecdotal, you might want to stock up just in case it works.
Raspberry leaf tea also contains nutrients which are beneficial to health in general, including antioxidants.
Is raspberry leaf tea safe?
Raspberry leaf tea is safe for most women to drink during the later stages of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. However, it is not recommended before 32 weeks.
You may also want to avoid it if you have had a premature labour before or there are risk factors which mean you are more likely to go into labour prematurely, for example if you are expecting more than one baby. It also isn’t a good idea if you have experienced any bleeding in the second trimester of pregnancy, if you have had a c-section in the past or are planning to have one this time round, or you have a history of fast labours lasting less than three hours.
As it is not suitable for all expectant mums, speak to your midwife first to check it is safe for you.
How do I take raspberry leaf tea?
Raspberry leaf tea can be bitter and hard to drink on its own. Fortunately, our friends at HotTea Mama have created the award winning ‘The Final Push’ tea. An organic red raspberry leaf blended with organic whole peppermint to create a more delicious and comforting hot drink. The added peppermint is also great for easing heartburn and digestion at the end of pregnancy.
Raspberry leaf tea comes available as teabags or a loose leaf tea in health food shops, most supermarkets and pharmacies or direct from HotTea Mama. Follow the instructions on the pack and build up how much you drink slowly. Hottea Mama’s ‘The Final Push’ is a whole leaf tea so is suitable for making 2 cups from one bag!
Start with just one cup a day and gradually build up to two and then three.As you need to build up your tolerance to the herbal remedy gradually, it is not a good idea to start drinking raspberry leaf tea when you are close to your due date or overdue. It is safe to continue if you have been taking it for a few weeks already but starting suddenly can cause your contractions to be more intense.
For those of you looking to try the raspberry leaf tea out, our friends at HotTea Mama are offering a 20% discount - simply use HONESTMIDWIFE20 at the checkout. Why not treat yourself to their lovely pregnancy wellness set of teas?