If you've watched your due date come and go or you're just so damn uncomfortable, you might have started exploring ways to start labour, one of which includes drinking raspberry leaf tea. It's a herbal remedy that is thought to tone the muscles of your womb to help it work during labour.
What is raspberry leaf tea?
Red raspberry leaf tea is a herbal tea that is made from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. It has been used as a pregnancy tea for at least two centuries. Although often recommended to induce labour, its actual role is to increase blood flow to the uterus and ready the uterine muscle for more organised contraction during labour.
While there are no studies to suggest that this fruity herbal tea can induce labour, by understanding how it works with the womb, one can see how drinking the tea prepares pregnant women for birth.
Why do pregnant women drink raspberry leaf tea?
“Raspberry leaf tea is used by many women to help prepare their womb muscle for labour and birth,” says Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, author and former midwife. “The womb muscle contracts regularly day in and day out even when a woman is not pregnant, which is how it keeps toned and fit. As the womb gets ready for the mammoth effort required for labour and birth, the exercise it does picks up, just like a runner preparing for a marathon.
“Raspberry leaf tea is also thought to help the womb muscle tone up. There is some evidence that, by getting really toned up and ready for action in this way, a woman is less likely to go past 41 weeks of pregnancy. So although the tea doesn't really start labour, it might help push your body in the right direction by getting the womb fit and strong.”
Benefits of raspberry leaf tea
Although the chance of raspberry leaf tea kickstarting labour is still up for debate, on the whole, there are other benefits to drinking a cup.
Sandra Greenbank, a nutritional therapist specialising in fertility, pregnancy and women's health says, this tea can induce labour, strengthen the uterus, make labour less painful, and, yes, even prevent tears during birth. Sandra adds: “Raspberry leaf has been famous throughout history for preparing mothers for childbirth. It is thought to help shorten labour, as it strengthens the uterine and pelvic muscles while also working as a relaxant at the same time, and therefore helps reduce the pain of contractions during labour.”
On top of this, raspberry leaf tea is rich in antioxidants and nutrients such as calcium, iron and potassium as well as containing vitamins A, C and E.
Is it safe to drink raspberry leaf tea?
• Some medical herbalists caution that you should be careful taking it early in pregnancy, as it stimulates the uterus so could bring on a miscarriage, although there are no studies on this.
• You should be careful if you are taking other medicines before drinking raspberry leaf tea as, like all herbal remedies, it can interfere with some other medicines such as those for diabetes and antidepressants and cause side effects.
• Always check the leaflet that comes with the tea leaves or tablets if you buy it over the counter or, better still, talk to your midwife.
• Before trying raspberry leaf tea, check with your midwife if you are booked to have a Caesarean.
It's not advised to take it if you have high blood pressure.
• Don't drink this tea if you are expecting twins or your baby is breech.
• It is also wise to avoid the tea if you have a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or fibroids.
• Don't drink the tea if you've had premature labour before.
• Overall it is best to speak to your midwife before considering drinking raspberry leaf tea to ensure that you personally aren't at risk.
Does raspberry leaf tea work?
Although no trials regarding red raspberry leaves and drinking red raspberry leaf tea as a pain management therapy during labour have been published, a few studies have looked at how this fruit tea affects labour and birth outcomes.
For example, studies evaluating the length of labour and birth outcomes with the use of raspberry leaf tea starting at 32 weeks of gestation. Statistics show that drinking raspberry leaf tea can shorten the second stage of labour and reduce post-term pregnancy.
Although some mamas swear by it, ultimately, there isn't enough evidence either way to provide a comprehensive answer.
When to start drinking raspberry leaf tea
It’s important to make sure you wait until the recommended date until you start drinking this tea. “The general advice is to wait until around 36 weeks gestation to start the drink, or taking the capsule alternative. This is because there is a worry about its impact in pregnancy,” says Laura Southern, a nutritional therapist from London Gynaecology.
You should start with one cup a day and build up to three cups a day, to help bring on labour naturally.
Where to buy raspberry leaf tea
Once you have confirmed with your midwife that it is safe for you to begin drinking this tea, here are some raspberry leaf teas and capsules to try.
Clipper Organic Raspberry Leaf Infusion
This is a refreshing, distinctive, and delicious blend of raspberry leaves made with natural herbs and enhanced with natural raspberry flavour. It's free from caffeine.
One mum had good things to say: "I have used this tea from 32 weeks pregnant, in all 4 pregnancies. I believe it does help speed up labour (my longest labour was the 1st, which lasted 4 hours, quickest was 28 minutes)."
Heath and Heather Raspberry Leaf Tea
This tea was voted the best herbal product in 2009, that means that for the past 10 years, it's been one of the best raspberry leaf teas you can find in the market.
Mum Jenny found it helpful in her pregnancy too: "Bought these as I approached the end of my pregnancy, love the taste and labour was 35 mins so I'm rating this very highly - mind you I drank 200 cups before baby was born!"
Indigo Herbs Raspberry Leaf Loose Herbal Tea
This is 100 per cent pure botanical ingredients with absolutely nothing else added. The resealable airtight foil pouch will keep your tea fresher for longer.
Review: "Started drinking at 32 weeks pregnant - I couldn't drink breakfast tea while pregnant because it made me sick. Got induced at 38 weeks, was told the pessary stage would take about 24 hours - it took 4. Whether the tea had anything to do with that or not I can't definitively say, but it certainly made me feel a lot better - like I was actually doing something to help the end of my pregnancy. Will be stocking up for any future pregnancies, thats for sure!"
Nipper Co Organic Pregnancy Tea
This refreshing Nipper Co Organic Pregnancy Tea is 100 per cent natural, free of artificial flavors or additives, flavour enhancers or colourings. It contains peppermint, spearmint, ginger, rose petals and of course raspberry tea - but only 13 per cent.
Review: "I keep going back to this blend even though I am not pregnant anymore. When I was pregnant it was my favourite go to herbal tea, and one of the rare things that did not make me nauseous. Now I just enjoy it as a naturally caffeine free option whilst breastfeeding and I heard raspberry leaf is great to have postpartum as well."
HotTea Mama The Final Push Pregnancy Tea of Raspberry Leaves and Peppermint
If you're not so keen on the flavour of raspberry leaf tea, you can get this version that has peppermint as well.
Bernice applauded HotTea for her speedy labour: "I was 37 weeks pregnant when I started drinking this tea, and induced at 38 weeks. The nurse and Doc was very surprised that in few hours I would go into labour so fast. I recommend this tea for women who want to give birth very fast"
Myrtle & Maude Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea
An organic raspberry leaf tea with each bag containing whole leaves, herbs, flowers and fruits to make 30 cups.
Review: "Absolutely delicious. I drank it with lots of honey and it was genuinely the nicest tea I’ve ever had. It arrived very quickly and with a lovely hand written note. I don’t know if it will help with my labour but it’s so yummy that I would drink it either way."
Yogi Tea, Woman's Raspberry Leaf
This well-known tea brand brings you a kosher tea with oxygen-bleached tea bags.
Review: "I LOVE this tea! It relieved all of my backache, and really relaxes me! I feel wonderful! I am currently 35 weeks pregnant and drink this tea 3 times a day! I will continue to drink even after the baby is born! I am even bringing it with me to the hospital!"
Natures Aid Raspberry Leaf Capsules
Not a fan of the tea but still want to see if raspberry leaf works for you?
You can always try the capsules. Each daily dose provides 375 mg raspberry leaf extract, equivalent to 1500 mg fresh leaf and can be taken twice a day.
The reviewers are very positive too, with one mum writing: "I took six tablets the day before I gave birth, on the day I gave birth, I took another eight tablets. My water broke at about 3:30pm, got to hospital by 4pm and had baby 45mins later. No gas and air, no stitches, no nothing. Still using it while breastfeeding and breastfeeding has been a breeze, I take 5 tablets every morning."
Learn more about our experts
Rachel Fitz-Desorgher is a baby and parenting expert and mother’s mentor. She has four grown-up sons and two grandchildren.
Rachel worked as a specialist midwife, infant feeding consultant and parenting consultant for over 30 years before deciding to leave midwifery in order to focus her expertise and experience on mentoring women transitioning from the busy world of work to motherhood.
Rachel hosts a Facebook Live on the M&B Facebook page, every third Monday of the month at 8pm. Make sure you've liked our page so you don't miss a notification!
Rachel also wrote a book called Your Baby Skin to Skin which you can buy on Amazon, now.
Laura Southern is a fully certified nutritional therapist from London Gynaecology, who has worked in nutritional therapy for seven years, and she qualified at the prestigious Institute for Optimum Nutrition which is recognised as one of the leading centres for nutritional training and education.
Laura became passionate about supporting pregnant women during her own pregnancies, noticing first hand the difference the right nutrition and supplementation plan can make. She has since treated numerous pregnant ladies with a range of pregnancy related conditions including; endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, weight management, anaemia and gestational diabetes.
Sandra Greenbank is a registered nutritional therapist specialising in fertility, pregnancy and women's health.
With 12 years experience as a nutritional therapist working with clients across the UK, Europe and the US, she has helped countless women get to the root cause of their fertility issues and achieve the healthy pregnancy and baby they didn’t think was possible.
She studied for four years at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and qualified in 2009. She's currently undergoing training at the Institute of Functional Medicine as part of her commitment to attaining the highest standards of knowledge and competence in the practice of evidence based Nutritional Therapy and Functional Medicine.