If you’ve ever found yourself googling the safety of everything from toothpaste to tuna while pregnant, you’ve probably wondered about the safety of different herbs and essential oils as well. You can find a list of pregnancy-safe essential oils here, and in this post I’m sharing my favorite recipe for red raspberry leaf tea. It’s one of the most popular herbs recommended my midwives to nourish mama and baby, and it’s delightful both hot and served over ice. Okay, let’s jump in!
“You Know My Uterus Can Hear You, Right?”
He looked at me quizzically as I tried to decide whether I’d said that out loud or not. No, definitely no – phew! The slow, bloody death my career as a mother had just encountered was a private affair, thank goodness. You see, we were reviewing the results of my college aptitude test, which revealed that I . . .
- Can’t find my way out of a cardboard box. No surprise there.
- Would make an excellent greeter should aliens ever invade Nashville. (I learn languages very easily, though the only ones I’ve ever really studied are ancient Greek and Latin)
- Tend to look slightly constipated when I’m thinking (That one wasn’t on the test, Daddypotamus told me for free!)
Oh, and this: “You’re great with words and ideas,” he tells me. “Go into teaching or marketing, but teach at the college level. You’re not cut out for working with young kids.“
Greeeaaat. I think I felt my womb hang the “out of order” sign on the entrance right then and there. You see, I had feared for years that I didn’t have what it takes to be a mother. I don’t naturally use phrases like “cris-cross applesauce” or wake up wanting to do leaf art. I like sleep and crave quiet spaces.
For the first few years of my marriage I obsessed over every late period, worried that I might be pregnant. It wasn’t just that I didn’t feel prepared, although that was true. It was also that I was struggling with some massive health issues and had actually been told that I wasn’t healthy enough to carry a baby to term.
As I recovered my health, a desire more powerful than my insecurity awoke within. “You know you want this,” said something in my soul. And I did. So we did. And it was amazing. (And hard!)
So we did it again – still hard, but oh-so-worth-it. I can’t imagine life without these two.
You can see where I’m going here, right?
As we prepare for Babypotamus #3 to arrive this November, I am doing all I can to care for this amazing womb of mine: Soundproof headphones for negative comments and of course this nourishing tea, which has been used for centuries to help with labor. Before we get to the recipe, though, let me tell you a little about the star ingredient!
Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for Pregnancy
Fragrine – a component of the red raspberry leaf – is thought to strengthen and tone the uterus so that contractions are very effective. Many midwives believe that it helps to shorten labor time, reduce the pain of labor and postpartum recovery, minimize the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, decrease postpartum discomfort, and increase milk supply. (source)
In one study, mama’s who consumed red raspberry leaf had fewer birth interventions such as artificial rupture of membranes, forceps delivery and cesarian sections. They were also less likely to experience both pre and post gestation (source)
Other Reasons to ♥ Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry is rich in bioavailable minerals – particularly iron, which is in high demand during pregnancy. It also contains:
- Bioavailable calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, manganese and zinc – plus a significant amount of iron as mentioned earlier
- Flavonoids that act as antioxidants
- Betacarotene (a precursor to Vitamin A)
- Vitamin B-3 (niacin)
Is red raspberry safe to consume during the first trimester?
Some have suggested that red raspberry should be avoided during the first trimester, believing that it can cause contractions that might induce miscarriage. However, many midwives say tradition and current research indicate that it is safe to be used in all trimesters. (source)
“Red raspberry leaf has an ancient tradition of use in pregnancy to sustain and tone the tissue of the womb, support contractions and check hemorrhage during labor. The herb in itself does not promote labor; it does help tone and work with the needs of the uterus during your pregnancy. Raspberry leaf extract apparently contains a component that stimulates contractions of the smooth muscle in the uterine wall; these are toning contractions. Toning contractions will not make the contractions stronger but can help the uterus work more effectively. One double blind randomized trial found the use of raspberry leaf tablets by women in their last month of pregnancy was associated with a significant shortening of stage two labor, but not of stage one. Red raspberry leaf is rich in calcium, magnesium and iron, so using it can promote toning contractions and give you a rich source of vitamins and nutrients. It is a great herb to use, but more important, our bodies know how to give birth and they know how to make babies; the herbs are just a bonus.” ~ Midwifery Today
Of course, there are several other herbs that have long been used during pregnancy to support moms and their growing babies. I’ve included a few in this recipe, plus suggested some you might like to add once in awhile to mix things up. First up, nettle!
Reason to ♥ Nettle
Rich in bioavailable iron and other essential nutrients, nettle has long been used to nourish the adrenal glands, which are often put to the test during the pregnancy and postpartum period. It is also thought to help with leg cramps, reduce the pain of labor and birth, nourish the kidneys which are responsible for cleaning the extra blood required to sustain pregnancy, and increase the richness of breast milk. (source) Vital nutrients contained within this herb are:
- Vitamin K-1
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D2
- Minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur
Reason to ♥ Rosehips
Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C, which supports immunity and assists with the absorption of blood-building nutrients such as iron. It is also thought to be a mild diuretic that helps with water retention.
Homemade Pregnancy Tea ~ A Nourishing Tonic For Two
Many mama’s drink 1 cup of this tea every day during early pregnancy, and up to 4-5 cups (some say more!) in the last trimester.
- Fresh ginger (to help with digestion)
- 1/4 cup mint leaf (also beneficial for digestion, not to mention delicious!)
- 1/4 cup chamomile (to soothe frazzled nerves and encourage restful sleep)
Though a tea ball is optional, it does simplify the process quite a bit!
To make a single cup, boil water and pour into a mug. Add 1-2 tablespoons of tea to a tea ball and allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes. Remove tea leaves and sweeten with honey, maple syrup, etc. if desired.
If you don’t have a tea ball, simply add the tea leaves to boiling water and then strain with a mesh strainer .
To make a large batch, boil 8 cups of water and add 1/2 cup tea leaves. Steep for at least 10 minutes to overnight, then strain and place in the fridge to sip on over the next few days.