Is It Safe to Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea When You're Pregnant?

Is It Safe to Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea When You're Pregnant?

Your due date has come and gone. And here you are, still pregnant. You’re bigger and more uncomfortable than ever, and all that excitement over meeting your baby is starting to morph into straight-up exhaustion. Can an herbal remedy like red raspberry leaf tea help get labor started?

Moms-to-be have traditionally relied on raspberry leaf tea to trigger contractions and naturally induce labor. And plenty of women still try it to expedite baby's arrival. So if you feel like you’re about to pop, you might be thinking about joining their ranks.

But before you do, read this and learn more about whether drinking red raspberry leaf tea for labor is safe, effective and has any downsides.

What is red raspberry leaf tea?

Red raspberry leaf tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. It’s historically been used in folk remedies, including as a tonic to strengthen the uterus and promote faster, healthier labor and quicker postpartum recovery.

Is It Safe to Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea When You're Pregnant?

Why do pregnant women drink red raspberry leaf tea?

Pregnant women looking to jumpstart their labor have long turned to raspberry leaf tea because it's thought to be a uterine tonic that boosts blood flow to the uterus and strengthens the uterine muscle fibers. That, in turn, is believed to have the potential to get the birthing process started by triggering contractions. Strengthening the uterus is also thought to stave off excessive postpartum bleeding.

Can you drink raspberry leaf tea to induce labor?

Countless women have tried it. The problem? Even though plenty swear by red raspberry leaf tea to induce labor, the actual research isn’t so straightforward. One small study found that taking red raspberry leaf pills starting at 32 weeks pregnant shortened the second stage of labor (but not the first stage) and reduced the need for forceps. Another suggested that taking red raspberry leaf tea could lower the chances of having a post-term baby — meaning a pregnancy that goes 42 weeks or beyond.

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That might sound promising. But more recent reviews have concluded that there’s not enough quality evidence to say for sure whether red raspberry leaf tea is actually effective for inducing or shortening labor. And experts agree that the tea shouldn’t be recommended because of a lack of good data on its safety.

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Is it safe to drink raspberry leaf tea?

You might assume that if a box of red raspberry leaf tea is sold in a drugstore or online, it can’t possibly be harmful. But that’s not actually the case. Herbal supplements are only loosely regulated in the U.S., and manufacturers don’t have to test them for safety or efficacy before putting them on the market. That alone is reason enough to proceed with caution, especially when you’re pregnant.

And, in fact, quality research on red raspberry leaf tea is limited. So experts don’t know enough to say for sure whether drinking red raspberry leaf tea to induce labor is safe. As for drinking it earlier in your pregnancy? Even herbalists and midwives who recommend the tea say women should steer clear during their first trimester. If red raspberry leaf does stimulate the uterine muscles, it could potentially pose a risk of miscarriage.

Ultimately, you should be careful before using red raspberry leaf tea or any other herbal supplements during your pregnancy. And if you are thinking about giving the tea a try, you should always get the green light from your health care provider first. If your doctor does okay it, it’s best to drink the tea in moderation.

What are the side effects of drinking raspberry leaf tea?

The lack of research on raspberry leaf tea means that experts don’t know everything about its possible side effects. So what is known? Red raspberry leaf tea is thought to:

Are there any red raspberry leaf tea benefits?

Though its benefits when it comes to labor are questionable, raspberry leaf tea still has some health perks, including: