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Prenatal Care, Herbs & Nutrition
One of the most common herbs used for pregnancy, labor and birth is red raspberry leaf,rubus sp . This herb is often recommended for toning the uterus in the weeks leading up to birth.
Some of the primary uses of red raspberry leaf are:
Red raspberry leaves provide a multitude of nutrients including Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium & Phosphorus. It also contains phytosterols which can help metabolism and blood sugar balance and bioflavonoids that help increase the integrity of blood vessels, which may lessen varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
As for the safety of red raspberry leaf, it is generally a safe herb for most women to consume in moderate amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Raspberry leaf, consumed in tablet form, was found to cause no adverse effects for mother or baby, but contrary to popular belief, did not shorten the first stage of labor. The only clinically significant findings were a shortening of the second stage of labor (mean difference = 9.59 minutes) and a lower rate of forceps deliveries between the treatment group and the control group (19.3% vs. 30.4%). No significant relationship was found between tablet consumption and birth outcomes. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2001 Mar-Apr; 46(2):51-9. Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy: Its Safety and Efficacy in Labor. Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wade K.
And the Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal:
The purpose of this study was to examine the safety and efficacy of raspberry leaf products consumed by a group of mothers during their pregnancy, by comparison with a group of mothers who did not. A retrospective observational design was used. Subjects were women who birth their babies at Westmead Hospital between January 1998-July 1998. The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The findings suggest that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggest ingestion of the drug might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group. Aust Coll Midwives Inc J. 1999 Sep; 12(3):20-5. Raspberry Leaf and its Effect on Labour: Safety and Efficacy. Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T.
Finally, in over a decade of working with pregnant women and herbal medicine, I have yet to an adverse outcome from red raspberry leaf myself.
The best way to take red raspberry leaf is as an infused tea using fresh or dried leaves. Here's our standard infusion technique:
Place the fresh or dried leaves in the mug or jar. Pour the just boiled water over the herbs and cover the infusion. Let it steep for 2-4 hours. Drink warm or room temperature.
You can find a recipe for our Pregnancy Support Nutrient Strong Tea with red raspberry leaf, plus other pregnancy friendly herbal teas by grabbing your copy of our DIY Herbal Teas for Pregnancy.
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