You may have heard of this herb or the popular tea found in most grocery and health food stores. Clients often ask about Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRL) and whether or not it will help to induce labor or at least help labor move along. It is important to note that there’s not a whole lot of substantial research on the use and effectiveness of RRL tea. So many are often left wondering is it worth drinking? Let’s discuss!

The Leaves

The red raspberry plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia and is known for its sweet, nutritious berries. For centuries, red raspberry leaves have been used to treat ailments and to “induce labor” and there is some research available that points to RRL being beneficial in easing premenstrual symptoms like cramping, nausea and diarrhea.

The leaves are rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and a number of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron (28 grams contains 3.3mg of iron). They also are abundant in antioxidants. Additionally, red raspberry leaves contain fragarine, a plant compound that helps tone and tighten muscles (like the uterus!) in the pelvic area, which may reduce the menstrual cramping caused by the spasms of these muscles. (1)

The most common way to ingest RRL is by steeping the leaves and making a tea to drink. The tea is similar to an earthy black tea, and is caffeine free.

Use in Pregnancy

As I already mentioned, the evidence isn’t totally supportive of the claim that RRL helps induce labor, or that it helps shorten labor. Read more by clicking the links below.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11370690

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10754818

Most midwives would agree that for healthy, low-risk individuals, drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea isn’t harmful but may or may not be beneficial for inducing labor or shortening labor.

So Why Drink It?

Great question! As mentioned earlier, there are benefits to drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea because it contains essential vitamins and minerals (like iron which needs to be at a certain level at the start of labor to ensure your safety immediately after birth). If you don’t like tea or are looking for another option, Bella Donna Midwifery offers a RRL Tincture (they make it themselves) that you can take.

red raspberry leaf tincture

The tincture is a more concentrated form of the tea, and can be easily applied under the tongue for quick absorption, and carried in a bag/purse for convenience.

Anecdotal evidence alert! In my experience as a doula and birth assistant with Bella Donna Midwifery, we’ve both noticed a few trends when clients drank the tea as directed by their midwife.

1) clients who drank the tea do seem to have a shorter ACTIVE phase of labor (active being defined as 6cm+)

2) clients who drank the tea bled less in the immediate postpartum and in the weeks following

These two events are even more obvious with clients who have taken the tincture as directed by their midwife.

Whether or not you decide to drink RRL tea or use the tincture is a choice you can make with the guidance of your medical provider. Remember that neither is an induction method, but more of a uterine toner that may or may not strengthen the uterus (which is a muscle) to ensure it does its job more effectively during labor and postpartum.

Further Reading:

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407953/

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