Red raspberry leaf tea – the woman’s herb
You might have heard of red raspberry leaf tea already, but maybe not. It’s become one of my favourite drinks since my last pregnancy. Don’t confuse it with raspberry fruit flavoured tea though. This is made out of the leaves of the raspberry bush and is sometimes referred to as “the women’s herb” for it’s many traditionally known benefits to women’s health.
The leaves are rich in antioxidants and magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, vitamins C, E and B vitamins. So it is great for preventing swelling and leg cramps and keeping your iron stores good when your blood volume increases in pregnancy. It has no caffeine so if you are low on iron and trying to improve your levels it’s not compromising iron absorption. Small kids can also drink it safely.
Red raspberry tea in pregnancy – what it does?
This herb is most commonly recommended to drink in pregnancy for its uterine wall toning effect. Tannins and fragarine are the ingredients responsible for this property. It will not initiate labour or cause contractions that are productive but will stimulate smooth muscles of the uterus, making them stronger.
Again – it will not induce labour, so drinking lots last minute will not help you have your baby sooner.
If you have it regularly throughout pregnancy though it can help tone and strengthen the uterine muscle and this could help you have more effective contractions when labour starts spontaneously, therefore possibly have a shorter and smoother labour.
It’s also said that it can reduce the risk of haemorrhaging in labour, reduce postpartum bleeding and have a positive effect on your milk supply as well as balancing your hormones.
Keep drinking it in the extended postpartum and it could still benefit your uterus when your menstrual cycle returns – keeping the uterine muscle toned and periods healthy, with fewer cramps, regular and not too heavy.
Sources vary on recommendations for when to start drinking it in pregnancy and how much to drink. Some say to avoid drinking it in early pregnancy, but others claim it’s perfectly safe. As usual, do consult your health care provider before adding it to your routine to make sure there are no contraindications to your particular circumstances. If you start in your second trimester you can have a glass a day and increase over time to 2-3 or more if you like.
If you experience cramping you can stop or reduce how much you’re drinking and come back to it after a few days to see if there are any changes. You might experience so-called Braxton-Hicks contraction and these might or might not be affected at all by drinking red raspberry leaf tea.
Brewing red raspberry leaf tea
You can have it hot or as iced tea, on its own or with honey, lemon, other herbs that you enjoy. Brew a single cup at a time or bigger batches and keep in the fridge for a delicate tasting ice tea in the summer.
I like using a metal strainer and buy all my tea lose. If I brew just one mug I fill up my ball strainer with a herb mix of choice and pour boiling water over it. Then let it sit for a few minutes, just enough to steep but still remain very warm. I sometimes add half a teaspoon of honey to it. Wait with adding honey until your tea is a little cooler – overheating honey destroys the goodness in it and you are left with just sugar really.
You can also make a bigger batch and make your brew stronger by letting it steep longer.
Boil 8 cups of water and add half a cup of the herb and let it sit at least 10 minutes or even overnight, then strain and keep in the fridge.
You can also add fresh ginger to it for a stronger taste and to fight nausea, mix it up with other herbs like lemon balm and chamomile for a calming tea, mint for a more refreshing taste, rose hips for more iron absorption boosting vitamin C. I love adding dandelion and nettles, both are rich in iron too, though read up or ask your midwife about any herb you use, for some there is no evidence and proof they are entirely safe in pregnancy. Dandelion is a diuretic so it will make you pee more – which can be both beneficial and harmful depending on your current health.