Raspberry Leaf Tea: Labor Support; Epidural Alternative

My beautiful yogi friend, Chelsea Rapcan, is passionate about the benefits of drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy. I asked her to write about it for y’all and here’s what she sent me. These are her views. Enjoy!

raspberry leaf tea

 

Drinking raspberry leaf tea during my pregnancy noticeably improved my overall well-being before, during, and after labor and made delivering my baby at home a dream come true.

Chelsea’s home birth story

Having a home birth was the most beautiful experience of my life. Too beautiful to summarize with words alone. Laboring and giving birth in the comfort of my own home was the only way I could imagine doing it. I didn’t have an elaborate birth plan because I didn’t want to be disappointed if something didn’t go as expected. I just called my midwife and kept her updated on the length and time between contractions. By the time she and her doula/midwife-in-training arrived, I was 8 cm dilated and ready to get into the birth pool.

My husband had filled the pool with air the night before while my contractions were more of a tickle than a force.  He set it up in our apartment dining room, right off the kitchen. I watched from the living room couch, taking pictures and giggling with excitement that we were only hours away from finally meeting our baby boy. After that, I went into our bedroom, got on my yoga mat and meditated to a hypnobirthing video from Youtube. I highly recommend getting familiar with hypnobirthing. Pairing it with drinking raspberry leaf tea will undeniably make your labor and birth easier!

Shortly after my midwives arrived that next afternoon, they began filling the pool with water and I was beaming with bliss that this moment was here at last. I initially didn’t want to give birth in the water because I read it increases the chance of tearing. But after submerging my heavy and tired body into the warm water, I began to float, instantly feeling weightless and calm. The spring sun shining in from the kitchen window graced my face with soothing warmth. I was lost in the beauty of this perfect moment and overwhelmed with gratitude. It never occurred to me to get out.

My angel midwife, Jaymee, kindly patted my face and neck with a cold washcloth between contractions, bringing my attention back to the present moment and allowing me to relax and re-center my awareness and breath. She placed her own straw in my glass of cold coconut water and held it up for me so I could effortlessly hydrate. My husband applied pressure on my low back during contractions, easing the discomfort and keeping my lower half submerged in the water.

Discomfort is the only word I feel is suitable to describe how my contractions felt. Nothing about my entire birthing experience was ever hard or felt unattainable. With the combined support of my partner, midwives, my own home and the effects of raspberry leaf tea, I could not have asked for a smoother labor and delivery. I never once had to forcefully “push”. My contracting uterus did all the work on its own, delivering life directly into my very own hands.

People tell me all the time, “You’re so brave! Having a baby at home? I would be so nervous/scared!” My response is usually different but my instinct is always the same: NOT having a baby at home makes me nervous and scared. Giving birth is so intimate and special, and we are pretty much brainwashed to think it’s the worst thing we could ever go through. We are told we need medication to tolerate the pain from contractions to make it easier to give birth. But truthfully this mind-body-severance makes the process harder on us mentally, physically and emotionally.

I recognize not everyone is blessed with a low-risk pregnancy, and hospital birth may be the only option for some people, and that is still a beautiful thing! Bringing new life into the world is special wherever and however one experiences it. It is such an amazing blessing to live in a time where modern medicine can intervene in a positive way.

Drinking raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy

The moment I learned there was an herbal tea recommended to drink during pregnancy, I was dedicated. This was an easy commitment for me to maintain as I love drinking warm tea and have a passion for the pro-active, preventative, holistic approach to health. I added a flavor to my tea collection and was excited to try something new that would bring additional benefits to my pregnancy and homebirth experience. I never questioned or doubted the teas ability to work in a magical way. At 16 weeks pregnant, drinking a strong cup of raspberry leaf tea each day became my daily ritual.

Every time I drank the tea, I paused for a moment to connect with my growing baby and reflect on the feelings of joy, excitement, gratefulness and love that arrived. It was a way for me to make each day of my pregnancy special and observe, honor and admire the work my body is doing during this intimate process. I took this time to be thankful for my health and ability to plan a homebirth. I often drank my tea in the same room of our home where I planned to give birth. I would envision myself being in labor & peacefully giving birth in this sacred space.

I would love to share with you how I prepared for birth. I hope you find the following information resonates with you and are able to apply it to yourself, improving your pregnancy and birth experience.

Raspberry leaf tea has been used throughout centuries by people of all cultures

The raspberry plant grows wild all over the globe, and people have used it for an impressive collection of reasons that include reducing inflammation of the eyes, treating bee stings, fevers, boils, a variety of bowel issues related to infection and disease of the intestines, and diarrhea. It has even been used to treat conditions as serious as hemorrhaging and hemophilia (an inability to produce blood clots).

Raspberry leaf tea is the mother herb

The leaves of the raspberry plant contain the key beneficial components that contribute specifically to women’s health. The leaf grows on the plant in a way that covers the berries, protecting them and shielding them from danger. The sole purpose of the raspberry leaf is to protect the fruit of the plant. This is why raspberry leaf is known in herbal medicine as the “mother herb”.

When the leaves of the raspberry plant are dried, brewed and consumed, it has astringent and tonic effects on the body that contribute to pregnancy, birth, and general uterine support.

The astringent properties prepare the uterus for delivery and could potentially help reduce labor pains. “Astringent” literally means to cause contractions of body tissue.

When a concentrated amount of raspberry leaf tea is consumed, it signals the muscles of the uterus to simultaneously contract and relax, therefore toning and strengthening the same muscles used to “push” during delivery, making contractions more efficient.

The onset of these “contractions” creates a question of when it is safe to begin regularly consuming the tea. Use your own judgment or instruction from your health practitioner/midwife about when to begin drinking the tea, but keep in mind the signals sent to the muscles to “contract” also send signals to “relax” at the same time. These are not the same contractions that occur during active labor. The tea has successfully been used in early pregnancy to prevent miscarriage in women who have had repeated miscarriages.

As an astringent, it is also be used to treat nausea associated with morning sickness. It also helps reduce pain from menstrual cramps. It even helps pass the placenta!      

Raspberry leaf tea is high in mineral content, nourishing the body with:

  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  • Niacin
  • Iron
  • Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E

These vitamins and minerals are extremely beneficial for both the mother and the fetus. They also enrich breast milk, although consuming too much could deplete supply due to the teas astringency.

The tonic properties of the tea are pretty straight forward. It makes you feel good when you drink it as a concentrate. Pause for a moment to drink a cup of concentrated raspberry leaf tea and notice how it uplifts you.

Drinking raspberry leaf tea during labor

I only have one regret about drinking raspberry leaf tea during my pregnancy: NOT drinking it during labor! Early in my pregnancy I came across recipes for “labor-aid” and had decided to keep it simple and drink plain coconut water during labor due to its high electrolyte content. Since I have continued research on the tea after giving birth, I have read so many testimonies of women drinking the concentrated tea during active labor or on their way to the hospital with remarkable delivery time and decreased pain from contractions. Next time around, I will definitely be adding raspberry leaf tea to my coconut water!

How to make raspberry leaf tea

The brand of tea I used was whatever organic brand my local health food store carried. Just be sure whatever you buy is raspberry LEAF tea, and not just raspberry flavored tea. Loose leaf varieties are available online. I found the already prepared bags convenient. If you decide to go the loose leaf route, remember to make it concentrated.

One regular serving suggests using 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea per cup. You will want to use 1 tablespoon per cup in order to reap all those benefits! When I first started drinking the tea at 16 weeks pregnant, I used two tea bags (or two tablespoons) per cup. As I got closer to 30 weeks, I increased the concentration I drank in one glass. I used up to 4 tea bags (tablespoons) in one small cup the closer I got to my due date.

Drinking a concentrated brew is imperative to receive the benefits the tea has to offer!

Caution drinking raspberry leaf tea

If you feel doubtful or worried to try raspberry leaf tea during your pregnancy, please do your own research and use your intuition to decide if it will be the best thing for you. The deeper I have ventured into my holistic lifestyle the closer I have grown with my intuition. If a natural remedy comes across to me as something that could potentially be harmful, I research for an alternative until I find something that resonates with me and brings a feeling of trust and peace.

Whether you are planning a homebirth, birthing at a birth center, or considering skipping the epidural at the hospital, raspberry leaf tea has so much to offer and I hope you find it even more empowering than I did!

Links for more information about raspberry leaf tea:

If you aren’t a fan of drinking plain tea, Angela has included some delicious recipes at the end of her informative post on raspberry leaf tea which can be found here: https://theherbalacademy.com/3-raspberry-leaf-benefits-for-women/

If you would like to research further, I recommend starting with this article written by a medical herbalist: http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/raspberry_leaf.html