If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard about different herbal teas and their health benefits or contraindications. Red raspberry leaf tea is one of the herbal remedies that offers many health benefits during pregnancy and labor and in the postpartum period.
What are the benefits of drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy? Is it safe? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is red raspberry leaf tea?
As its name suggests, it’s a herbal remedy – made from the leaves of the raspberry plant, brewed as a tea. It acts directly on the uterine muscle fibers. It’s a uterine tonic, which means that red raspberry leaf tea helps the uterine muscles to be prepared and perform at their best during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period.
Red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy
Red raspberry leaf tea has numerous health benefits during pregnancy. This herbal tea helps with the increased blood flow pregnant women experience. It helps prevent miscarriage and will also help with Braxton Hicks contractions. As a uterine tonic, raspberry leaves will keep the uterus fit and ready for when labor starts.
It’s said to help with morning sickness, especially if mixed with ginger root.
Research suggests that taking two cups per day of red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy can reduce hypoglycemia in pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
More extensive research is needed. But with very little in the way of risks and such great benefits observed and recorded, red raspberry leaf tea is a great option for pregnant women.
Red raspberry leaf tea during labor
Although more research is needed, it’s believed that tea from the red raspberry plant could improve labor outcomes, shorten the length and result in fewer interventions during labor.
Red raspberry leaf tea to induce labor
Some women are under the impression red raspberry leaf tea will help to induce labor. t’s more of a uterine tonic, however, which helps to prepare the uterus for labor, rather than kick start labor.
There are many other natural remedies much better to induce labor. This herbal remedy might be used during labor if labor stimulation is necessary.
See our article about natural ways to induce labor: How To Bring On Labour Naturally- 11 Natural Methods.
Red raspberry leaf tea and labor outcomes
Red raspberry leaf is believed to help strengthen uterine muscle, tone the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth, as well as assist with breastmilk supply.
Scientific research has shown women who take red raspberry leaf have a reduced incidence of birth interventions.
Research has also found that women who drank red raspberry leaf tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had shorter second stages of labor (pushing stage) than those who did not drink the tea.
From one study published by Australian midwives in 1999:
‘The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The findings suggest 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 labor and prodromal labor with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggest ingestion of raspberry leaf might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a cesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group’.
Red raspberry leaf tea after birth
As a uterine tonic, this herbal tea will not only improve labor outcome but is also believed to help prevent excessive bleeding after the second stage of labor. Raspberry leaf tea also helps with milk production after birth.
How long has red raspberry leaf tea been used?
With so many potential benefits is not difficult to understand that this pregnancy tea has been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, including amongst indigenous Australian cultures.
In Chinese medicine, red raspberry tea has long been used during pregnancy and for many other women’s health conditions. There is no available data on exactly when it was first used.
In the 1940s, western medicine practitioners began to use it as a tonic for the uterus during pregnancy and childbirth.
When birth became a clinical practice – mostly moved into hospitals – and women’s health was removed from their own control to become part of the obstetrical system, the use of raspberry leaves was reduced. It’s been just during the last couple of decades that the practice of using it as a uterine tonic during pregnancy has been reintroduced.
Is it safe to drink raspberry leaf tea while pregnant?
The most common question about red raspberry leaf tea is whether it’s safe to take during pregnancy.
There’s a great deal of conflicting information about pregnancy contraindications.
Nicole Tracy, a naturopath from Nurtured by Nature, says there are no known contraindications for red raspberry leaf tea when used at an appropriate dose.
If you’ve had a previous labor that was really fast, raspberry leaf tea is best avoided.
You should only use red raspberry leaf under the care of your naturopath or herbalist. Contact your healthcare provider, who can help you find the necessary help you’re looking for.
5 benefits of raspberry leaf tea
Red raspberry leaf tea is a herbal tea loaded with nutritional and functional benefits.
Here are the main ones:
#1: It contains many vitamins and minerals
Raspberry leaf tea contains a rich assortment of vitamins, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. It is a natural source of these components, which are necessary for the correct functioning of our bodies.
#2: It has a strong flavor
You might think this isn’t really a benefit but for many women who like black tea or coffee, red raspberry leaf tea can be a real lifesaver.
Unlike black tea, red raspberry leaf tea doesn’t contain caffeine. And, of all the herbal teas, it’s the one that tastes most like black tea.
#3: Red raspberry leaf tea contains fragarine
Fragarine is a substance present in the raspberry leaf. It inhibits uterine action during pregnancy, making Braxton Hicks contractions smoother. Fragarine also helps ease any cervical resistance during labor. Your labor outcome could be much smoother, thanks to this substance.
#4: Red raspberry leaf tea improves women’s health
Red raspberry leaf is used to lower the blood sugar in diabetic women, regulate irregular menstrual cycles and reduce heavy periods.
When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is said to boost the mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation. It’s often used by women in the third trimester of pregnancy, as a natural means to have an easier labor.
Research suggests that raspberry leaves also have numerous health benefits for women outside of pregnancy also.
It eases premenstrual syndrome, regulates menstrual periods, and reduces heavy bleeding. It’s also known to help with the transition towards menopause reducing night sweats and hot flushes.
#5: Red raspberry leaf tea has many general health benefits
Red raspberry leaf tea is rich in antioxidants; therefore it’s used for many other ailments unrelated to womanhood.
Across the world, red raspberry leaf is used to treat flu, diarrhea, acne, sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum disease. It also alleviates inflammation, lowers blood pressure and eases water retention.
Its use to aid fertility is well-known in different complementary therapies.
You can read more in BellyBelly’s article Not Falling Pregnant? 9 Essential Fertility Tips.
As you can see, red raspberry leaf tea has multiple benefits for everyone – pregnant or not. You can include this natural herbal remedy in your diet and benefit from all the health properties of the raspberry plant.
How should I take red raspberry leaf?
Raspberry leaf tea can be purchased at most supermarkets, health food stores, or online.
It’s available in tea bags, as loose-leaf tea – seek out organic, local tea from a reliable source.
When purchasing red raspberry leaf tea, beware of cheap imported teas which could be contaminated with other items.
Raspberry leaf herbal tea has an earthy-like flavor, similar to that of black tea. If you’re not a fan of the flavor of the tea, or herbal tea is not for you, you can always take raspberry leaf tablets.
It’s also available as a tincture that can be added to water, juice or tea. Be aware that the main medium for the tincture contains alcohol.
How much red raspberry leaf should I take?
If you drink loose-leaf tea, it is difficult to be exact with dosages because it depends on how long you steep your tea, and the quantity you use.
The best way to prepare your raspberry leaf tea is to heat water to 70 degrees Celsius. You’ll know the water has reached the right temperature when tiny little air droplets cover the inside of the pan before the water starts to boil.
Put in a teaspoon of red raspberry leaf tea, then stir or swish it before letting it steep for ten minutes. When ten minutes is up, pour it into your favorite mug and enjoy!
The taste is a little bitter, so you might want to sweeten it with some honey or stevia.
You can have up to 4-5 cups per day of raspberry leaf tea in your third trimester, but have at least 2-3.
If you’re in your first trimester, 1 cup per day is fine.
If you prefer tablet form, it is suggested you take two 300mg or 400mg tablets with each meal, three times a day, from 32 weeks (Parsons, 1999).
Potential side effects of red raspberry leaf
Most women do not experience any problems after taking raspberry leaf tea; however, the following effects are possible:
- Loose stools
- Increase in Braxton Hicks contractions.
What about red raspberry leaf tea and VBAC?
There’s some confusion about the safety of red raspberry leaf tea and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section). Rest assured, it’s safe for women planning a VBAC.
Nicole Tracy says, ‘There’s often some confusion around raspberry leaf being contraindicated in VBAC births. This is most certainly not the case, and it does not increase the risk of premature labour or rupture of c-section scars. It’s wise for all women (especially those planning a VBAC) to take raspberry leaf tea, tincture or tablet form, from the beginning of the third trimester, in gradually increasing amounts’.
Read more in our article 9 Things Women Should Know About VBAC.
When to start drinking red raspberry leaf tea
As most substances cannot be studied in pregnant women, many professionals tend to be extra cautious and generally recommend women not to start taking red raspberry leaf until they are in the third trimester of pregnancy.
If you wish to take it sooner, simply check with a trusted naturopath.
You can then continue to drink the tea (or take the tablets or capsules) until the end of your pregnancy.
Red raspberry leaf takes several weeks to accumulate in the body and take effect. You should start by drinking one cup of red raspberry leaf tea per day and gradually increase to three cups.
If you choose to take capsules, follow the recommended dosage instructions on the label.
If you experience strong Braxton Hicks contractions after taking raspberry leaf tea, speak to your healthcare provider.
You can continue to drink this amazing tea after the birth too. This nutrient-rich herb can be continued for two weeks postnatally. It can assist with reducing blood loss, toning the uterus and supporting breast milk production.
Where to buy red raspberry leaf tea
Via Amazon, Earth Mama Organics offers the best-selling raspberry leaf tea bags; they are 100% organic. Order them here.
Prefer tea you can brew yourself? Try this top seller.