About 12 years ago I read a book called The Fat Ladies Club. It’s about pregnancy and birth from the point of view of five women who met in antenatal class. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember that, of the five authors, the ones who didn’t drink raspberry leaf tea ended up tearing or having episiotomies. I might actually be remembering it wrong (it was over a decade ago) but even so, that notion stuck with me.
I’m very scared of tearing and cutting (although I now know that no one can cut me if I don’t want them to, and that tearing is better as it’s natural) so I have always had it in my head that if I ever got pregnant I would drink it. And drink it by the GALLON.
Note: You can take it as tablets too (if you don’t like the taste of the tea), but I hate tablets and love the tea so I’ll be talking about drinking it for the purpose of this blog…
The few studies that have been done on raspberry leaf show that it relaxes the uterine muscles. This could result in less tearing, and more efficient contractions and, consequently, a shorter second stage of labour. You can also drink it through labour to help with delivery of the placenta and to reduce bleeding.
It’s also supposed to help ease period pains and (when suffering with terrible period pains) I’ve drunk it and found that it does help. Either that or it’s a great placebo…
The general advice in the UK is to steer clear of RL tea until the third trimester, wait until after 32 weeks, and gradually build up how much you drink. This is probably because of a worry that relaxing your uterus could bring on early labour. Lots of websites warn that you should stop taking it if you start getting strong braxton hicks straight after.
However, advice elsewhere (like Australia, for example) is that RL tea can be beneficial throughout pregnancy for alsorts of things like bleeding gums, morning sickness and diarrhoea.
It can also help relieve sore throats, so seeing as I’ve been suffering with a sore throat and swollen mouth for a couple of weeks now, I decided to get myself some. I got the Clipper infusion (pictured above), which is only 50% raspberry leaf, as I had a sudden desperate need to get some and it was all they had in Tesco. I don’t know if that makes any difference so I’ve been drinking twice as much as I think I need to to make up for it.
I’ve been adding a teaspoon of honey too (even though I prefer it without) to try and soothe my throat a bit more. I’ve only been drinking it for a couple of days but I can’t say it’s done much to ease my sore throat (apart from right after drinking it).
I also got some Heath & Heather Organic tea from Holland and Barrett thinking that it’d be “better”…
…(I got two boxes as they’re doing the penny sale at the moment) but it’s only 30% raspberry leaf, and it smells a little bit like tomato cuppa soup. It’s not a terrible thing, but it’s enough to make it slightly off putting every time I go to take a sip. Honey might make a difference but I have the sneaking feeling that it’d just end up being tomato soup with a hint of honey. I’ve set this brand aside for the time being until I’ve used up all the Clipper bags.
So anyway, I’m drinking at least two cups a day (sometimes up to five) and hoping for the best. It may help, it may not. Even if I have an easy, speedy delivery I’ll not know if it’s down to the tea or nature. I don’t think it matters though – it tastes nice (well, the Clipper one does), it’s keeping me hydrated, and if nothing else it’s giving me a bit more of a feeling of control over my impending labour…all good things.