If there was ever a woman who refused to be pigeon-holed into one, single “mommy” category, that woman would be me.
I’ll eat sushi all 9 months, but won’t ever take a sip of wine.
I religiously take my prenatal vitamins, but they’re gummies – and generic ones at that.
I work a full time job and have days where I cry silent tears while wishing I could go 5 minutes without someone touching me or asking me for something, but practice (and swear by) many principles of attachment parenting.
And I wholeheartedly trust traditional medical science, but still embrace a few holistic methods in my 3rd Trimester to (hopefully) give me a more favorable birth experience.
One of my favorites is Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, which I discovered while pregnant with my son after reading that it was pretty much a magical labor elixir that had the potential to “train” your uterus to birth more effectively. Sign me up, right? I pulled up all the research studies I could find and learned that 1. There aren’t many studies available to prove or disprove the efficiency of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea‘s benefits during pregnancy (there typically aren’t many studies conducted on pregnant women anyway due to safety concerns, so this wasn’t particularly surprising) and 2. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation circulated about the tea on mommy blogs and forums, alike.
So here is the basic rundown. Red Raspberry Leaf is a natural supplement that has been shown to tone the uterus so it is able to contract more effectively during labor. Throughout pregnancy, we experience practice contractions called Braxton Hicks. Basically, if your uterus is your bicep, and the Braxton Hicks contraction is the bicep curl, the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea acts as the dumbbell. It’s not there to bring on labor, start real contractions or have any effect whatsoever on your cervix – it’s simply a way to “train” your uterus (a muscle) so when the real labor begins, you’re getting good, effective output from your uterus during your contractions, which then has the potential to move the baby down the birth canal more quickly, thus shortening your labor.
The research studies show that the tea can, in fact, time shaved off your labor – specifically during the pushing phase – but some might deem the time minimal (often less than 20 minutes). But as someone who has pushed a baby out before, I personally don’t find 20 minutes anything to shake my head at. Trust me, I’ll take it. One study in particular showed that women who consume Red Raspberry Leaf tea are less likely to go pre or post-dates, require an artificial rupture of membranes, or have a cesarean section or forceps/vacuum assisted birth. Studies have shown no averse side effects in women, but at the same time are limited so the positive outcomes are limited as well.
So in summation, it can’t hurt. So I drink.
I purchase the Frontier Organics loose tea, and drink it from my Teami Tumbler (use code 10MEGAN and get 10% off). If you prefer teabags for the convenience, I like the Traditional Medicinals version, and you can get them at Target! If tea is not your thing, you can buy Red Raspberry Leaf in capsule form, like these ones from Nature’s Way.
Obviously all anecdotal evidence should be taken with a grain of salt but after drinking the tea in my first pregnancy I was able to push my 8lb 8oz baby in about 25 minutes after a 26 hour long induction. The tea clearly did not help me go into labor, as he was born at 41 weeks and I never dilated a centimeter on my own. But he was big, I was exhausted and still managed to get him out pretty efficiently. Good enough for me.
Here is the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea regimen I followed in both pregnancies (with recipes):
28-34 Weeks Pregnant – 2 Single Cups (16oz) / day
34-40 Weeks Pregnant – 4 Single Cups (32oz) / day
40+ Weeks Pregnant – Labor Day Tea 4 Cups (32oz) / day
Single Cup Recipe (Loose Tea):
8oz Hot Water
1-2 Tsp. Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Pour 8oz of Hot Water over 1-2 Tsp. of loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. Let tea steep for 5 minutes, then drink. I drink loose tea from my Teami Tumbler (which is designed for loose tea) but you can steep the tea using a Tea Infuser (use 10MEGAN for 10% off) as well.
If you’d rather make a larger batch at once: Boil 8 cups of water in a stock pot, then add 8-16 Tsp. of Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. Allow 10-15 minutes for the tea to steep, then pour through a strainer and into a pitcher.
Serve in 8oz portions either hot or over ice.
Spoiler: The tea does not taste like raspberry. Sorry. But you can add milk or sweeten to your preference to make it more palatable if the taste of black tea isn’t for you.
Labor Day Tea Recipe:
4 Cups Water
1.5 Cups Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Boil Water, then reduce to a simmer.
Add loose tea.
Steep for 20-30 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a pitcher.
Drink 32oz per day from 40 Weeks until you deliver.