Why use Raspberry Leaf Tea in pregnancy?
Did you know that raspberry leaf tea may reduce the length of labour and the risk of interventions? It can also be very beneficial to use during pregnancy? Raspberry leaf tea has been used in different parts of the world for many years as a uterine tonics. Here we explore how the literature dispel the myths and take a look at a great medicinal herb that is natural and not full of additives.
Increasingly in the 21st century women are turning back to natural remedies to help them throughout pregnancy and childbirth, here at Call The Midwives I endeavor to give you the best information just as nature intended!
Of all the uterine tonics used during pregnancy, the leaves of the raspberry plant have the most impressive reputation for strengthening and toning the tissues of the womb. The use of raspberry leaves in pregnancy is recorded in ancient herbal textbooks written as far back as the 6th century (Palmer, 2000). One group where the use of herbal remedies, especially during childbirth have been well-documented are the North American Indian tribes. Tribes like the Cree and Cherokee used raspberry leaves for their astringency and toning effects on the uterus to ease labour pains and check bleeding of the uterus.
It is believed that raspberry leaf, if taken regularly through pregnancy and labour can help reduce intervention during labour. In her review Jane Palmer (2010) states the following:
- Ease the symptoms of morning sickness.
- Sooth and prevent bleeding gums which many pregnant women often experience.
- Relax the smooth muscles of the uterus when it is contracting (Burn & Withell, 1941).
- Assist with the birth of the baby and the placenta.
- Calm cramping of the uterus.
- Reduce the risk of intervention during the second stage of labour
- Provide a rich source of iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium. The magnesium content is especially helpful in strengthening the uterine muscles. Raspberry leaf also contains vitamins B1, B3 and E which are valuable in pregnancy.
There have been a few studies into the benefits of raspberry leaf tea. Parsons et al (2000) Australian midwives undertook research. Their first study they carried out was an observational study on women who were currently taking raspberry leaf in pregnancy. They compared them to women who did not take any raspberry leaf. There were 108 women in the study (57 taking raspberry leaf and 51 who did not take any). Some women started taking raspberry leaf in their pregnancy as early as 8 weeks and others started as late as 39 weeks. Most women however started taking raspberry leaf between 28 and 34 weeks in their pregnancy. The findings of the observational study suggested that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. An unexpected finding in this study was that the women in the raspberry leaf group were less likely to require an artificial rupture of membranes, a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.
How to use Raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaves can be drunk in a tea infusion, which is the preferred method, or capsule, tablet. Put one teaspoon of the dried herb into a cup with boiling water (or three teaspoons if fresh leaves are used). This is allowed to infuse for 15 minutes before drinking (RCM 2009)
These guidelines have been taken from Parsons (1999):
- Tablets – Take two 300mg or 400mg tablets with each meal (three times a day) from 32 weeks.
- Teabags From 32 weeks take 1 cup a day after 2 weeks up the dose to 2 cups per day and increase to 4 to 5 teabag cups throughout the day after 36 weeks
- Loose leaf tea – Bring one cup of water to the boil. Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the herb. Stir, cover and let sit for ten minutes (do not boil the herb), strain and sip. Adding sugar or honey many improve the taste. 2 to 3 cups per day is often recommended especially after 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Midwives in the UK only recommend using it from 32 weeks, and gradually increasing your dose over the course of the last 8 weeks.
Many use this tea and I have posted comments from facebook feed for you to make your own mind up.
I must state here that there are certain people who should not use raspberry leaf tea. It is believed that it may affect blood pressure in some women so if you have been advised you have blood pressure problems then please avoid. Do not use if you have had a previous caesarean section, as the uterus will have been previously compromised, if you are carrying twins or your baby is breech or you are under threat of pre-term labour.
Wendy Kuharska Midwife (2017) For private Antenatal Classes Contact Me
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Palmer J (2010) Raspberry Leaf Tea Pregnancy & Beyond Australia
Ferguson P (2009) Raspberry Leafs a turning point Royal College of Midwives Midwives Magazine