By Jenny West
My greatest passion in life is midwifery and experiencing the birth of a child with parents who love children as much as I do. And as a Licensed Midwife, it has been my privilege to advise many women during pregnancy, and to be present at thousands of births. I take it upon myself to care for my clients, before, during and after the birthing, physically, mentally and emotionally. I had one client who was worried about having her fifth baby. After a few prenatal visits, I was puzzled about her concern. I was thinking, “Fifth baby, what could she be worried about?” After some coaxing, she finally admitted that it was the after pains that had her concerned about her birth. Apparently the after pains were so incredibly intense after her fourth baby, that she was not at all concerned about the act of giving birth to number 5, but the after pains. Now that I knew what was troubling her, I suggested that we up her dosage. She was skeptical that this would help, but was willing to give it a try. I advise all of my clients to take Red Raspberry Leaf through pregnancy because it does so many fantastic things.
Red Raspberry Leaf Information: For thousands of years midwives of old and Chinese herbalists have used herbs with very good results. This fact is not lost on the current medical community as most of our allopathic medicines have come from herbs. As a midwife and herbalist, I use herbs constantly in my practice. I believe that the female body was designed to give birth, and that with proper nutrition, it can usually do what it knows how to do, without much, if any intervention. I have also found certain herbs to contribute significant amounts of nourishment necessary to our bodies. Red Raspberry leaf is a widely used herbal tonic that is especially beneficial during pregnancy.
Brewed as a tea, in capsule form or as an infusion, Red Raspberry Leaf is one of the safest and most commonly used tonic herbs for women wanting to get pregnant or for women who are already pregnant. Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tones the uterus, is the most easily assimilated form of calcium, improves the quality of labor contractions, improves quality of sleep, decreases feeling of anxiety/nervousness and decreases constipation. Since osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium, daily use of Red Raspberry Leaf is highly recommended for all women.
Almost every trace mineral that our bodies use is available in Red Raspberry Leaf. Taking this herb helps facilitate all the functions our bodies do for us on a daily basis. This is why Red Raspberry Leaf is considered a ‘tonic’ herb; it tones or tonifies and supports the body in general. Because Red Raspberry Leaf has calcium that is so readily available to our bodies; and most of us have a calcium deficiency, most people notice a change in how they feel right away. Beeyoutiful’s encapsulated organic Red Raspberry Leaf is easily assimilated by your body. All the necessary trace minerals and vitamins your body needs to easily assimilate the calcium are already right there, occurring naturally in the Red Raspberry Leaf itself. This means no one in a lab had to figure out how to formulate something that might work as well as the real thing!
When to Use Red Raspberry Leaf: Use Red Raspberry Leaf every day! It is almost impossible to over dose on Red Raspberry Leaf. You can drink 1-6 cups of Red Raspberry Leaf leaf tea per day, hot or iced-it’s a very mild tasting tea. Or, you can take one to four capsules per day. Take or drink more in the second half of the day if you tend to have trouble sleeping. Red Raspberry Leaf encourages a deeper, more restful sleep. Now, as for symptoms of taking too much Red Raspberry Leaf, you will experience one or the other… very loose stool or constipation. Either is a sure sign that you have more than reached your body’s threshold for calcium levels. Just back down on your dose by one or two cups of tea or one or two capsules. Your bathroom habits will return to what is familiar to you.
Pregnancy and Red Raspberry Leaf: As for pregnant women using Red Raspberry Leaf, there are two schools of thought on the subject with conflicting information ‘floating around’ about the use and safety of this herb. Many clinicians agree that in the 3rd trimester, frequent (3-4 cups per day of tea OR 1 – 2 capsules) use is beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles. Red Raspberry Leaf contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and calcium. It also contains an alkaloid called fragrine, which lends tone and strength to the uterus.
Other clinicians agree that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st trimester and 2 cups in the 2nd trimester and switching to an infusion (an infusion is just stronger ‘tea’) for the 3rd trimester ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. And finally, some clinicians advise no use of Red Raspberry Leaf in the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of miscarriage. Midwives in the U.K. claim an increase in miscarriage rates during that time by those women who have used Red Raspberry Leaf. It has been noted that Red Raspberry Leaf can possibly cause minor spotting in the beginning of a pregnancy. Some advise to use it especially if you have a history of miscarriage. None of the above studies were done with an herbalist’s input.
What Red Raspberry Leaf does NOT DO is start labor or promote contractions. It is NOT an emmenagogue (something that promotes a miscarriage) or an oxytocic herb (an herb or chemical that promotes uterine contractions). It does strengthen the pelvic and uterine muscles in order to help you feel better throughout your pregnancy (something we all need, right?) It also allows your labor and the muscles involved with birthing to be more relaxed and efficient. Who doesn’t want a shorter, more comfortable birth?
Contact your midwife, herbalist or physician for more information about your personal use of Red Raspberry Leaf . You always have the option of doing enough ‘homework’ yourself to feel good about your decision to use or not use this herb. This advice is good for any decision you might be facing about your pregnancy options or your own health and welfare in general!
Tea recipe: To make tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Steeping longer than ten minutes will only make the tea bitter, not stronger. For stronger tea, use more in the tea bag or tea ball. Sweeten with Stevia or honey.
For pregnant women, during the first two trimesters, drink 1-2 cups per day. You can drink up to four cups a day as there is no known overdose of this herb. During the final trimester, drink 2-4 cups per day, especially before going to bed for the night; you’ll sleep much better. If you’re just not a tea drinker, try Beeyoutiful’s encapsulated organic Red Raspberry Leaf! One to six capsules per day, based on comfort.
Making your own dry tea: You can harvest your own Red Raspberry leaves or purchase them dried from your local health food store or organic grocery. To dry harvested leaves quickly, lay them on a cotton sheet in the back of a vehicle on a hot day with the windows closed.
I like to add Nettles, Alfalfa or Spearmint to my dry tea. This combination makes for a very toning tea. Nettles has every trace mineral our bodies need and helps build up red blood cells as well. Alfalfa helps blood to clot well and prevents unnecessary blood loss. Spearmint is soothing to the stomach and adds a bit of flavor to these herbs for a bit more punch to your tea.
Just a note about ‘sun tea’. Feel free to make the above tea as sun tea, but know that boiling water is hotter then sun-warmed water, and will extract more of the botanical properties you are drinking the tea for in the first place. You can always brew your tea with boiling water and serve over ice. Make a quart or two and drink throughout the day. Start with a fresh brew at least every three days, as herbal teas will allow mold to begin to grow after three days, even if stored in the refrigerator. Your best option is to make a daily amount, one to two quarts. Remember, you still need to be drinking plenty of water. Tea does not count as part of your daily water intake even though it has water in it.
Well, my client faithfully took the Red Raspberry Leaf in the higher amounts discussed and her birth experience went so well that I almost missed it! She felt just fine at her 24 hour check up too, but said the next day would be the test to see if it had worked. I told her to call me if she experienced any after pains like she had in the past and scheduled a routine five-day postpartum check up. I never received any phone calls from her and started wondering if she was going to tough it out rather than call. With all of this going through my mind, I rang the door bell on the day of my visit hoping to hear good news, yet fearing I wouldn’t. My face split into a huge grin as my client all but tap danced to the door to let me in! She couldn’t stop telling me how great the last few days had been! It had been nothing like her last postpartum experience. She wanted me to promise that I would tell every pregnant woman of this miracle herb that made all the difference for her. So, this is me keeping my promise and telling all of you this “big secret” to feeling good during and after your births! Red Raspberry Leaf truly is a miracle herb! Enjoy your amazing body every day. Bee well, bee happy!
Written by Jenny West, LM, CPM, HBCE, TBMP, CST, CH; a midwife/herbalist who has been in practice for 18 years and delivered over 7000 babies.
Edited by Jean Kuvik.
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