Raspberry Leaf As An Ally For Pregnancy
Among the plethora of herbs listed as "unsafe" for pregnancy, red raspberry leaf stands proud as one of the strongest allies to new mothers. Not only does it help to prepare the body for birth, it may be utilized after birth to help further tone the uterus and provide nutrients for mother and baby. Indeed, this is an exceptional herb for women transitioning into the role of mother.
Benefits for Pregnancy
It is easy to say that red raspberry can be used to help make the birthing process easier. In saying this, red raspberry looses its holistic nature and becomes a type of remedy for a specific problem, a “this herb for that issue” condition. I would like to look past this and consider red raspberry’s leaf’s holistic properties as well as its personality according to my experience.
My personal experience with this herb has been enriching. In fact, I have been quite obsessed with this herb lately. Though I started drinking it as a tea late in my pregnancy (about the end of my second trimester), I felt it working in my body and was surprised how quickly my labor and birthing was. When I say "quick" what I mean is seven hours. To compare, another woman in the hospital with me was pushing twenty hours. While I can't say that all women who drink red raspberry leaf tea will spend less time in labor, I can say I felt that my labor was shortened because of the toning properties raspberry leaf provided me. A stronger, well toned uterus helps the contractions be more efficient and the birth process slightly easier. Not less painful, but easier.
Raspberry leaf aids preganncy futher by providing essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, E, and chelated iron. Add a little nettle to your raspberry leaf tea and your body will recieve a swarm of nutrients benefiting both you and the baby.
We touched on red raspberry leaf's beneficial astringency properties in our previous post here. We talked about how the herb tones tissue states and muscles, allowing fluids to move more efficiently through and out the body. It is the same with birth. A strong uterus helps the child begin its outward journey from the mother's womb into the world. Muscles from the top of the uterus press down on the baby so that the baby’s head can pass through the cervix. Toned muscles are essential to this process. Starting to drink one cup of red raspberry leaf at the start of the second trimester can help prepare the muscles and the uterus for birthing. Its important to note that I've heard one shouldn't start drinking raspberry leaf tea in the first trimester. This might be something to bring up with your OBGYN and/or midwife should you feel the need to start take it early.
The benefits of red raspberry leaf don’t stop after child birth. They continue into postpartum and benefit the baby just as well as the mother.
Benefits for Postpartum
As a first time mother myself, I was surprised how loose and stiff everything felt after birth. My legs, back and hips were tight and sore. I was no where near as flexible as I had been even before pregnancy. My insides, however, were a different story. Everything felt loose and, naturally, empty. Other mothers can agree, it's a very strange feeling. Emptiness aside, the uterus, the vagina, and everything in the lower abdomenal region felt deflated and stretched. Rightfully so.
After giving birth to my son, I continued to take raspberry leaf tea as a comfort more than for its herbal properties. In fact, I wasn’t aware than the benefits would continue on into postpartum but after doing some research I found raspberry leaf is an ally in every stage of child bearing. This makes sense of course. It’s not as if the astrignency of raspberry leaf would simply turn off after the baby is born.
There are several ways in which raspberry leaf helps postpartum. It brings tone and functionality back to the uterus and also helps to prevent excess bleeding; it lowers the risk of hemorrhaging and can be especially useful in sitz baths (Popham). Raspberry leaf is the go to herb for new mothers. It’s simply amazing how beneficial it can be for all stages of childbirth. I found that my insides felt much tighter and seemed to return to normal not long after giving birth. This may not be true for everyone as other factors may be at play.
Raspberry Leaf’s Personality
It can take years to get to know a person and even then, we never truly know someone through and through. Everyone keeps parts of themselves to themselves. Often, we are selective in what we wish to share with various people. But, the more we get to know a person, the more we are willing to share. It is not so different with herbs. If we take the time to get to know an herb, that herb will open up to use, teach us and share its secrets with us. This takes time, certainly a lifetime, however we can familiarize ourselves with these earthly allies through experiences and dedication.
Though I still have much to learn from raspberry leaf, the process of going through pregnancy and giving birth helped me develop a personal and special relationship with the herb . As an aid for pregnancy, it was no surprise for me that raspberry leaf projected a kind of midwife energy, even at times an older sister energy. After giving birth, she continued to to aide me in recovery and spiritual preperation for stepping into the role of motherhood. She helped tone my motherly nature, so to speak. I work with her even now 3 months after giving birth and she continues to share her earthly knowledge with me, guiding me through these early stages of being a mother. Unlike my experience with motherwort, raspberry leaf is of a more direct disposition. While Motherwort came of as the strong, comforting, motherly type, raspberry leaf seems to be a bit more of a no nonsense type.
Energetically speaking, raspberry leaf is a cool, dry herb and I think this really speaks to her personality. I see the cool, drying herbs as having some affinity to the suite of swords in tarot. Not that these are destructive or painful herbs, but that they are more direct, less concerned with indulging emotions and more interested in solving the problem, whatever the struggles might be. Raspberry leaf acknowledges emotions, especially those that deal with emptiness after birth, but she does not dwell on them. She immediately works to strengthen the spirit so that those emotions are not in control. I see her as mature, facing the struggles of life with a straight back and a strong resolve. She also has a sweet side and is kind. She is friendly and open, especially to women.
Everyone has their own experiences with herbs. I doubt mine with this herb will be the same as the next persons. Regardless of how one might spiritually connect with raspberry leaf, there is no denying the benefits it provides for pregnancy both during and after.
Popham, Sajah. [Vol. 53- Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)]. Materia Medica Monthly. School of Evolutionary Herbalism. 2022