Red raspberry leaf tea – delicious, but can it speed up your labour?

Whether you’re overdue or just looking to speed up labour, the idea that a simple cup of raspberry leaf tea could make giving birth easier is pretty appealing!

So can sipping on red raspberry leaf tea, or taking a supplement in tablet form, help to make labour shorter and easier?

One study found taking raspberry leaf did reduce the second stage of labour by nearly 10 minutes. However the first stage of labour was no shorter in pregnant ladies who had taken a raspberry leaf supplement from 32 weeks. 

Although several studies have been carried out on groups of pregnant ladies, these have all been very small in number and so most have concluded further study is needed. 

If you’re overdue and think a cup of raspberry leaf tea will do the trick, unfortunately it is highly unlikely to induce your labour!

The important thing to note however is that no studies came back with any significant concerns about taking raspberry leaf during pregnancy! It can help to tone and prepare your muscles for giving birth by increasing blood flow to the area. 

There are however a few safety tips you should follow if you would like to try taking raspberry leaf to help with labour. 

What is raspberry leaf?

Raspberry leaf (rubus idaeus) is taken from red raspberry plants and used to make tea or tablets as herbal supplements. 

It has been used for to strengthen the uterine muscles and generally help pregnant ladies for hundreds of years. It works by improving blood flow to the uterus. 

Studies have found components of the plant, including fragrine and alkaloid, work directly on smooth muscle. 

Red raspberry leaf is packed with nutrients, including Vitamins A, C and E, calcium, iron and potassium, which are all great for boosting the body’s general health. 

Benefits of taking raspberry leaf tea in pregnancy 

The potential benefits of taking raspberry leaf tea in pregnancy are: 

  • Treatment of morning sickness (please note there are some concerns about the use of this herb during the first trimester, so always consult a doctor or midwife about the type of supplement and dose you take)
  • Shorter labour 
  • Easier labour (less discomfort during contractions)
  • Less likely to need medical intervention, such as a C-section, vacuum, or forceps delivery
  • Decreases post-birth bleeding

These are the beliefs held by many about the use of raspberry leaf, but what is the truth?

Some people have theorised that taking raspberry leaf tea can induce labour. This is not the case, and no studies have found this to be true. 

But, raspberry leaf tea is thought to strengthen the muscles of the uterus. The benefit of this is that it makes labour easier and faster. But just one study has found a small reduction in the length of labour as a result of taking raspberry leaf tea (with labour reduced by an average of 10 minutes). 

Despite the relatively small impact studies have concluded the herbal remedy can have, it is thought more than half of US midwives recommend the herb to pregnant ladies in the final trimester to ease their labour. 

Other small studies have found that although labour was not significant sped up, ladies who took raspberry leaf did have better outcomes and were less likely to need medical intervention during delivery. 

So when it comes to taking raspberry leaf during your pregnancy, there are certainly potential benefits to be had. There is no evidence to suggest taking it from 32 weeks is unsafe. 

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Potential problems with taking red raspberry leaf in pregnancy

Drinking too much raspberry leaf tea, or if you have a strong reaction to the herbal supplement, may cause pregnant ladies to experience diarrhoea or mild contractions. 

If you experience any discomfort after starting to take a new supplement such as raspberry leaf you should stop immediately. 

How much raspberry leaf should pregnant women ingest?

Raspberry leaf can be consumed as a tea or in a tablet supplement. 

If taken as a tea, it is thought one to three cups daily from 32 weeks gestation is a sufficient dose. 

In the 2000 study carried out in Australia (where raspberry leaf was found to shorten second stage labour by 10 minutes), ladies were given two 1.2g raspberry leaf tablets per day from 32 weeks until labour began. 

However, always consult your doctor or midwife before starting to take any supplement on a regular basis, especially if you have had complications in your pregnancy. 

How to take raspberry leaf

You can take raspberry leaf in several different forms!

You can buy loose leaves or tea bags to mix with hot water.

Alternatively you can buy raspberry leaf in tablets, drops or capsules. 

Raspberry leaf and breastfeeding

Many ladies continue to take raspberry leaf after giving birth in order to boost their breast milk production. 

Although there are no studies to support evidence of this, it is thought to be safe to continue ingesting raspberry leaf while breastfeeding your baby. 

It’s certainly better to drink herbal teas than gallons of coffee while you are breastfeeding your baby, so raspberry tea could be a great alternative if you love your hot drinks. 

If you are taking raspberry leaf tea while breastfeeding (or any other herbal tea), do double check the one you have purchased does not contain any caffeine. 

raspberry leaf tea and breastfeeding baby postpartumraspberry leaf tea and breastfeeding baby postpartum

Other benefits of raspberry leaf

Taking raspberry leaf can have other impacts on your body including: 

  • Loosening the bowels – which actually can be a good thing post-birth if you are having trouble with constipation. 
  • A sedating effect – this could be great is you’re struggling to switch off and get to sleep at night. Do be aware of this however if you are taking any other sedative-type medications. 

Conclusions on taking raspberry leaf during pregnancy 

Due to the lack of concrete studies, there is not enough evidence to suggest taking raspberry leaf tea or tablets will shorten or ease your labour. 

But there is some indications it can have a positive impact, and no evidence of any serious negative impacts it could have. 

As a result, it’s certainly something pregnant ladies could give a go, after speaking to their doctor for advice. 

What other natural remedies can help induce labour

If you’re here, chances are you’re after ways to induce your labour!

You can always try these other natural methods: 

  • Nipple stimulation
  • Spicy food
  • Long walks
  • Acupuncture
  • A “sweep” or membrane stripping – your midwife can perform this procedure. It involves a health professional using two gloved fingers to stimulate the cervix in a sweeping motion. This can stimulate your waters to break. 

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

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