Is Red Raspberry leaf tea a help or a danger in the first trimester of pregnancy? A lot of people say that red raspberry leaf tea is for use all the way through pregnancy to have an easier labor, while others say that it is only helpful for inducing labor. Some people say that it can cause a miscarriage if you take it too early in your pregnancy.
So can we discern the truth?
First off, there are many wonderful things to be said for Red Raspberry Leaf (RRL), my favorite herb (alongside dandelion and elderberry). According to Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year (in it’s 24th printing), the benefits of drinking red raspberry leaf tea before and throughout pregnancy include:
~ Easing of morning sickness. Many attest to RRL’s gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy.
~ Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. RRL tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.
~ Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery, RRL eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery. It does not, however, counter the pain of pelvic dilation.
~ Assisting in the production of plentiful breast milk. The high mineral content of RRL assists in milk production, but its astringency may counter that for some women.
~ Providing a safe and speedy parturition. RRL works to encourage the uterus to let go and function without tension. It does not strengthen contractions, but does allow the contracting uterus to work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster.
~ Increasing fertility in both men and women. RRL is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Red Clover.
The Raspberry Leaf Tea Story shared earlier on Mothering.com:
Tea made from raspberry leaves is the best-known herbal aid in pregnancy. Rather than go into all the traditional lore about this herb, we present the following lengthy account, because it is both contemporaneous and highly specific.
“My mother was born and raised in Scotland, coming to america at the age of 26. Whenever a member of her family became ill or had a health problem, her mother had consulted a herbalist or herb doctor. As a result of this, I was treated with herbs as a child.
“Mother had always told me that red raspberry leaf tea would prevent miscarriage and was excellent for pregnancy and childbirth. When I became pregnant, I immediately sent for some raspberry leaf tea and began taking one cup of it each day, made from one teaspoon of dried leaves added to one cup of boiling water and steeped for 15 minutes. I had a very normal pregnancy. Then I went into labor, I truly expected to have an easy labor and delivery because I had faithfully taken the tea. While it is true that I did not have a complicated or extremely difficult time, it was not by any means easy. The tea had not lived up to my expectations.
“It was not until sometimes after the birth of my daughter that I read a book my mother had brought with her from Scotland entitled Dragged to Light by W.H. Box of Plymouth, England. In it I found the secret of just how to take the tea so it would truly work wonders during labor and delivery. Box said, ‘On one ounce of raspberry leaves pour one pint of boiling water, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, and when the time for delivery is approaching drink the whole as hot as possible.’
“There were a number of testimonials in the book written by women who had used this herb. Several took the strong solution over a period of time before going into labor. They were instructed in that case to take a wineglassful three times a day. They had ‘only two stiff pains and it was all over’ or ‘no after pains and very slight before.’ They never made it out of the house. Box’s instructions were, ‘But those who take the tea considerably before the time should not leave the house when the time is approaching as many mothers are delivered almost suddenly when at their work, to the great vexation of doctors and nurses.’
“When I became pregnant again I was determined to try it that way. I still took a cup a day as I had before. but this time when I went into labor I made a strong solution of it as I had read in the book. I put it in a container and took it to the hospital with me. I wasn’t sure how quickly it would work and I didn’t want to have the baby in the car. I didn’t think they’d allow me to drink it in the hospital so I drank half of it in the parking lot. I was afraid to drink all of it as it was so strong and I didn’t personally know anyone who had taken it this strong before. I had been having strong contractions but by the time I registered and was taken up to the labor room the contractions were so mild I hardly felt them. Upon examination they said I was ready to deliver and would not even give me an enema. In the delivery room I was quite comfortable and hardly felt anything. One hour after entering the hospital my son was born.
“In the recovery room there were several other young women who had just given birth also. They were moaning and groaning. I couldn’t imagine what they were making a fuss about as I felt like I could have gotten up and gone home. I had always read and heard about women getting after-pains with a second child. I never had even one. This was also the testimony of a number of women who were treated with the tea by Box.
“Later I thought I would have had an easy time anyway since it was my second child. I was anxious for someone else to try it. A friend of mine was expecting a baby in a few weeks and she had been taking a cup of the tea daily and was also going to take the strong solution when she went into labor. She had had two previous pregnancies and both times nearly miscarried and had to take drugs and be in bed a good deal of the time. Both deliveries were extremely difficult. When she became pregnant this time she began spotting and it looked like she would have to go through the same kind of trouble she had before. Having used a herb I had given her for another problem, with success, she asked if there was a herb for this problem and I recommended red raspberry leaf tea.
“She started taking it and the spotting stopped immediately and she had a normal pregnancy, much to the amazement of her family who remembered her difficulties in the past. When she went into labor she took the tea as I had and told me she had only 25 minutes of hard labor before her baby was born.
“I have told a number of women about this amazing herb through the years, but no one else seemed interested enough to try it. However, 1978 my daughter became pregnant and she was very much interested in having an easy delivery. She took the tea each day and had a normal pregnancy. She, too, took the strong solution of the tea with her to the hospital and also being a little wary drank only half of it. When the doctor examined her, it was late in the evening. He said the baby wouldn’t be born until six o’clock in the morning so he went home. She was having hard contractions at this time and I was very disappointed and felt the tea hadn’t worked. An hour and a half later we received a call from our son-in-law saying we had a little grandson. The tea started working and the doctor had no sooner reached his home when he had to turn around and come right back to the hospital. My daughter said the next time she is going to drink all of the tea.” — I.A., Utah
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – Can This Herb Ease Childbirth?
by Stacelynn Caughlan Cl.N., CH (source)
“First recorded in the 1500’s, red raspberry leaf tea has been used for centuries in Europe, China, and both North and South America. This popular tea has earned the reputation of “herb-supreme” amongst pregnant women. According to folklore it can relieve almost any discomfort of pregnancy from morning sickness to leg cramps. And there may be good reason for its reputation.
Raspberry Leaf Tea contains a variety of components -most of which have yet to be identified- that produce a direct effect on the pregnant uterus. They have been shown to strengthen the uterine wall, relax smooth muscle, and help to make delivery easier and speedier by helping the uterus contract more efficiently.
Historically women have taken raspberry leaf tea throughout their pregnancies up to and including childbirth. Many mothers extol this herb’s ability to make childbirth easier and less painful. In a letter to the editor of the medical journal The Lancet, Dr. Violet Russel wrote “I have encouraged expectant mothers to drink this infusion. In a great many cases labour has been free and easy from muscular spasm.”
Some women also drink the tea throughout their labour, or suck on frozen cubes made red raspberry leaf tea. It reportedly helps expel the placenta, and its nutritional value is thought to be responsible for encouraging and enriching the mother’s breast milk. Many women continue to drink the tea long after childbirth as it is thought to help restore the reproductive system and continue to help nourish the new mother.
NOTE: Some medical and popular media make reference to red raspberry leaf tea as something to avoid during pregnancy for risk of miscarriage. This notion stems from a study conducted in 1954 where fractions were isolated from Rubus sp. and applied in vitro to the uterine tissues of guinea pigs and frogs. The scientists discovered such things as one fraction acted as a spasmolytic whereas another caused uterine contractions. Herein lies the risk of isolating the parts of a whole. When used as a whole plant, neither action is exacerbated and the herb is deemed safe. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is a herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern.”
C.J. Briggs and K. Briggs, Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, April 1997
Rosemary Gladstar, Herbal Healing for Women
Susun S. Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Joy Gardner, Healing Yourself During Pregnancy, The Crossing Press, 1987
Aviva Jill Romm, The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices
There’s a difference between making it medicinal and making it just a beverage:
To make a medicinal tea, you’ll use 1 TABLESPOON of RRLs to 8 oz of water. To make a beverage cup, it’s 1 TEASPOON. A big difference. The tea bags you buy at the store of red raspberry leaf tea are not usually medicinal strength.
For Morning Sickness:
One ‘beverage’ cup of Red Raspberry leaf tea, sipped slowly through the day, for morning sickness is incredibly helpful.
Pour 8 oz. (1 cup) of boiling water over 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp of dried RRL herb. Cover and steep for 10-20 minutes and drink as a tea.
And you can keep a gallon container of the prepared Red Raspberry leaf tea in the refrigerator so that you don’t need to brew it by the cup. For a gallon, use 3/4 cup to 1 cup of RRL herb per gallon of boiling water. Pour it all into a glass gallon jar, cover it, and leave it overnight to get stronger. Strain it in the morning and drink it over several days.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional, nor a doctor. I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use. Using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is intended to treat or prevent disease.
Thanks for reading!