If you are pregnant, you may well have heard people talk about raspberry leaf tea; in fact, it’s now mentioned in some NHS leaflets.
Raspberry leaf tea is a blend of herbs believed to strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the hope that they will be more efficient during the pushing stage of labour. Many mothers swear by raspberry leaf tea and claim that it helped them reduce pain and length of labour, but there is no firm evidence that it works, or in fact that it will work for everyone. That said, many believe there is no harm in trying it, as long as you take it according to advice from your midwife or healthcare professional.
Raspberry leaf tea is most commonly taken as a drink (either hot or left to go cold), but you can also buy capsules, and it is available from most health stores. The tea doesn’t actually taste like raspberries but does have a pleasant taste. Personally I don’t find it bitter but I have heard of people adding sugar to this tea.
The benefits of raspberry leaf tea, in addition to strengthening your uterus, are that it contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, C and E, which are antioxidants. Herbalists also believe it can help soothe a sore throat as well as improving general well being, and it is claimed that raspberry leaf tea can also help your uterus contract after birth and assist with bringing in your milk. Interestingly, raspberry leaf tea is not only used in pregnancy but is also believed to increase both female and male fertility. Additionally, it is recommended as a herbal solution to help normalise heavy, irregular periods, so it has many benefits.
There is a belief that drinking raspberry leaf tea will bring on labour, but realistically if this was the case, there would be no such thing as medical inductions – everyone would just be prescribed a cup of tea! Even so, midwives do advise not starting on regular consumption of raspberry leaf tea until you are full term (37 weeks). The usual amount of raspberry leaf tea to take is around four cups per day, but you could start on one and increase it every few days. Many women do choose to start the tea at a low dosage before 37 weeks, and whether this brings additional benefits or risks is unclear, but it is best to check with your healthcare provider before doing so.
Before you start taking raspberry leaf tea, definitely make sure you bring it up with your midwife or doctor as there are certain cases when it would not be advisable to take it at all, or to take less than usual, and they should be able to assist with this. In fact, a sensible precaution with any medication or supplement, particularly during pregnancy, is to always seek medical advice before commencing it.