If you are a pregnant woman, chances are that you have heard about red raspberry leaf tea. Red raspberry leaf comes from the red raspberry plant and when made into a tea tastes surprisingly, well… very un-raspberry like. It tastes more like regular black tea. It is said to help with delivery by strengthening the cervix, thereby reducing labor time. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are wondering if it works. The short answer is no one knows. But if your interpretation of what I just said is, “No one knows so it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot,” please keep reading. There are several reasons why no one knows if red raspberry leaf tea works. The first is the limited number of studies that have been done, and then the even smaller number of studies done with humans. The second reason is that the results of the studies that have been conducted have been conflicting. Take, for example, the following studies:
- This study, conducted with 108 women, concluded that red raspberry leaf tea helped shorten labor and that the women who invested red raspberry leaf tea were less likely to need a cesarean, their water broken, or forceps/vacuum birth.
- This study, conducted on rats, found that red raspberry leaf did stimulate contractions, but they also found that it sometimes inhibited contractions. In other words, their findings were inconclusive as to whether or not red raspberry leaf actually works.
- But then there’s this study. It was also conducted on rats. The researchers found that those rats that consumed red raspberry leaf had babies who reached puberty earlier, and that their babies’ babies also had growth restrictions
So see? Conflicting results in studies and even one study showing negative side effects! And not only are the results of the studies conflicting but so are the recommendations as to when you should even begin drinking and/or taking red raspberry leaf. Some midwives and doulas recommend drinking red raspberry leaf as soon as you discover you are pregnant. Meanwhile, more conservative healthcare professionals say that you should only start consuming it once you have reached your second trimester. This is because, if it truly does produce uterine contractions, it could lead to miscarriage. (Don’t panic; there have been no studies concluding this. It is just speculated.)
So, did I take red raspberry leaf while I was pregnant? And how much did I take?
Comparatively speaking, I think most people would say I consumed a lot. I took Rainbow Light Prenatal One vitamins the entire time I was trying to conceive and while I was carrying my daughter. Each pill contains 90 mg of their Gentle Prenatal Blend which includes Red Raspberry Leaf. Then, starting my second trimester (because I decided to follow the more conservative advice), I had one mug of Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea a day, each time using one tea bag. And then, finally, at 38 weeks, I began making pitchers of red raspberry leaf tea. I would use 4 bags of tea to a gallon pitcher and then drank an entire pitcher each day, all the while still taking my Prenatal vitamin.
Did it work for me?
Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. If you are familiar with my birth story, then you know I was in labor for 44 hours. Five hours was spent pushing. Would I have been in labor 45 hours without the tea? So it really did help? Who knows, but 44 hours seemed like a long time to me so I don’t really think it made a difference.
Would I take red raspberry leaf again?
Yes and no. I loved my Rainbow Light Prenatal One . I still take them actually because I am nursing. I love having just one pill to swallow, and they never made me feel nauseous while I was pregnant. But as for the actual tea, no. I don’t think it made enough of a difference to warrant me going through the trouble of making it and then chug down pitchers. Plus, with conflicting study results, I think the best route is a moderate approach… some red raspberry leaf but not an excessive amount. And so there you have it. A summary of some of the research that has been conducted on red raspberry leaf tea and one crunchy mama’s experience. In the end, it is best to stay informed and make an educated decision that works for you. Just don’t go nuts drinking boxes of the stuff, thinking that it will guarantee you a short labor. It isn’t a magic potion. Now I want to hear from you! How do you feel about red raspberry leaf tea? Do you think it works?
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