Circle of Moms communities are full of reports that drinking tea made from red raspberry leaf can help a pregnant woman self-induce. But a closer look at the stories of members who've shared their own experiences with the brew reveal that it's not that cut and dried. Nikki S. "used raspberry leaf tablets from 34 weeks" and went into labor 9 days early. But Jenna R. drank "tons of raspberry leaf tea" and concludes: "It did nothing for me."
Not only is the mom jury out on whether or not this home-brewed technique will bring on labor; several moms mention that there are even some dangers involved in drinking it. So why is red raspberry leaf tea all the rage in the pregnancy culture?
According to the American Pregnancy Association website, drinking any form of herbal tea during pregnancy is gaining in popularity as more women turn to midwives and natural child birth centers versus hospitals and doctors. Their website states, “Many alternative medicine health care providers feel that using certain herbal teas during pregnancy is a great way to support optimal pregnancy health. Herbal teas can often provide an additional source of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. However, due to the lack of studies on most herbs, the FDA encourages caution when consuming herbal teas.”
What Raspberry Tea Can and Can't Do
What is known about red raspberry leaf tea is that it is rich in iron. This nutrient is a major player in toning the uterus, increasing milk production and easing labor pains, according to the APA. And that’s why pregnant women are brewing it up, especially in the later stages of their pregnancies.
“I drank raspberry leaf tea and took homeopathic remedies and I had a wonderful labor and delivery. I would do it all again the exact same way,” says Jayne C. And Aura, another mom who drank raspberry leaf tea during her pregnancy, reports that "My labor went swimmingly. I progressed quickly. My labor was a grand total of six hours and I was right on my due date."
But did the tea help induce their labors or did it just ease the difficulty? Most likely, the tea aids in the latter, or at least that seems to be the reigning view among moms who've tried it.
"I took three cups a day from 38 weeks until the big b-day and all it did was soften my cervix," says Chelle H.
"I don't know if it was the (raspberry) tablets, or my body is just good at labor, but I had a great labor and the midwife kept commenting how effective my contractions were, she was really surprised at how well I dilated so quickly," shares Nikki S.
Erin M., a pregnant mom who is also a student of holistic medicine, said she is drinking red raspberry tea to tone her uterine muscles. As she explains, “I believe the toning effect it has on the uterus is what makes women claim it helps labor be shorter and less painful. Your uterus is working much more efficiently.”
Drink With Caution
She cautions that women should avoid its use until past the first trimester – especially if a woman has a history of miscarriage. As Sarah J. explains, in some third world countries, raspberry tea is used by women who are attempting to end their pregnancies: “The reason they say not to drink it is because it does cause contractions and in other countries that don't have abortion clinics the women drink it to abort a very young fetus."
The APA concurs: “There is some controversy about whether this (red raspberry leaf tea) should be used throughout pregnancy or just in the second and third trimester, so many health care providers remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester."
According to Circle of Moms member Erin M., midwives and natural birth counselors recommend that women with healthy pregnancies begin drinking the tea in their second trimester.
“Going into the second trimester, I used about one tablespoon of dried leaves per cup (of tea) every other day or so, and by the end of the second trimester a cup or two every day,” she shares. “The herb has a cumulative effect, so the earlier you can start taking it the better.”
That, in part, is why she thinks red raspberry leaf tea has gained a reputation for inducing labor.
“I think if a woman hasn't drank the tea before and is just about at the end of her labor, the mild tightening of the uterus [that is causes] can trigger actual contractions,” Erin M. writes.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.