Throughout history women have used herbs to aid childbirth. These ancient healing plants are a powerful part of our heritage from the earth. Herbs offer us an opportunity to heal our bodies harmoniously, and they help prepare our bodies in subtle ways for the process of childbirth.

Raspberry leaf tea is a universal remedy for easing childbirth. Brewed as a tea, Raspberry leaf is the best known, most widely used, safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs and is used by pregnant women in North and South America, Europe and China.

Even pregnant cats will stop and nibble raspberry leaves. Pregnant women were drinking this tea long before scientists discovered that it contains fragrine, an alkaloid that relaxes the smooth muscle of the uterus, and tones the uterus making delivery easier and speedier.

Benefits?Most of the benefits ascribed to regular use of Raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragrine or to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in these plants. Of special note are the rich concentration of vit C, the presence of vit E, and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vit A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorus and potassium.

Benefits include:  Helping to Prevent miscarriage and haemorrhage: Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum haemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.

Easing of morning sickness: Many women attest to Raspberry leaves’ gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy.

Reducing pain during labour and after birth: By toning the muscles used during labour and delivery, Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery. It does not, however, counter the pain of cervical dilation.

Providing a safe and speedy parturition: Raspberry leaf works to encourage the uterus to let go and function without tension. It does not strengthen contractions, but does allow the contracting uterus to work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster.

How to make Pregnancy Tea?Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teasp. Raspberry leaves. If preferred, you can add 1 teasp. of any other herbal tea you like, for flavour (eg. peppermint tea, fruit tea). Let it steep for 5 mins. Then strain and drink. Add honey if desired.

Tip: In the summer, you may want to freeze the sweetened tea in small ice cube trays and then suck on the ice cubes. In labour, these raspberry leaf Popsicles will help to keep your mouth from getting dry.  How much to take depends on when you begin to use this tea. There are many different views amongst herbalists about when you can start and how much you can drink, so if you want to be sure what is best for you, you may prefer to consult a herbalist.

YogaBirth teachers have consulted with herbalists who generally recommend the following:  If you begin in early pregnancy, take 1 cup of tea per day throughout your pregnancy.  If you begin in the second trimester, you can take 2 cups per day for the remainder of your pregnancy.  If you begin in the last trimester, you can take 3 cups per day.

N.B. A small number of women experience an increase of frequency/ intensity of Brackston Hicks contractions when taking the tea regularly. If this happens, we recommend that you stop taking the tea and check the effect.  Extracts taken from Healing yourself during pregnancy by Joy Gardener

This information was put together by Yvonne Moore, YogaBirth teacher and Active Birth teacher trainer for over 25 years, from information from the above book and other books, websites and wealth of experience from pregnant women.