Red Raspberry Leaf otherwise known as rubus ideaus, has been used since the sixth century for medicinal purposes and since the 1940's for western medical practices as a uterine tonic.
What does it do? The common thought is that Raspberry Leaf in the form of tea or tablets can reduce the labour time for pregnant women. It is a uterine tonic and helps tone the uterus in preparation for labour. It may also help with reducing nausea and morning sickness and can promote better circulation (helping with those puffy ankles). Following birth it can also be used to help the uterus shrink back down, boost your immune system and also assist with milk supply.
Benefits: Raspberry leaves contain many necessary vitamins including, vitamin A, B complex, C, and E. They also have an easily absorbed form of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and silica.
Labour: There is minimal research overall and even less in the past 10 years but what I did find from a study in a Sydney hospital has shown Pregnant women taking Raspberry leaf had a shortened second stage labour than those who didn’t take the Raspberry leaf and had no identified side effects for the women or their babies. Some findings also suggest that it might decrease the likelihood of the baby coming early or post term (late).
Hot Tip: Interestingly, pregnant women taking raspberry leaf regularly might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membrane (induced labour). And because of the reduced second stage of labour, you are less likely to require caesarean section or instrument use (forceps and vacuum).
Pelvic Floor and Raspberry Leaf: Studies have shown that forceps and vacuum use during labour cause significantly higher rates (4 times) of damage to your pelvic floor muscles. You are also 8 times more likely to have a prolapse, and 4 times more likely to have anal incontinence (wind and poo escaping with varying levels of control) with forceps and vacuum use during labour. Those figures are outrageous! If I were you I would be doing everything I could to avoid forceps and vacuum intervention during delivery.
More research is definitely needed on Raspberry Leaf, but for now who wouldn’t want a reduced second stage labour, less risk of instrument use, and less risk to their pelvic floor muscles?
How to: There are differing recommendations around how much and when. Love Tea Recommends a maximum intake of 3 cups of raspberry leaf per day. Widely used and started in Trimester 3, however check with your midwife if you want to start during trimester 2. Caution: Raspberry leaf is best avoided in the 1st trimester of pregnancy.
Potential Side Effects: Most women don’t have any side effects, however these effects may be possible: Nausea, Loose bowel movements, increase in Braxton Hicks Contractions.
Where can I get it from? Google or find your local health food store! My favourite brand is Love Tea.
Leave a comment if you like Raspberry leaf tea or have used it in your pregnancy.
Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wake K. 2001. “Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor”. Journal Midwifery Womens Health. Mar-Apr;46(2):51-9.
Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T. 1999. “Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: safety and efficacy”. Aust Coll Midwives Inc J. Sep;12(3):20-5.
Fonti Y, Giordano R, Cacciatore A, Romano M, La Rosa B. 2009. “Post partum pelvic floor changes. Journal of Prenatal Medicine. Oct-Dec; 3(4):57-59.
Hafsa M, Handa V. 2013. “Vaginal childbirth and pelvic floor disorders” Womens Health. May;9(3):10.2217/whe.13.17.Mary O’Dwyer. Hold it Mama. pg65.
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