Supporting the tone of the uterus before, during pregnancy and in postpartum is something that most moms are interested in, if they are lucky enough to know their options!
There are many things that can be done, like specific exercises, to improve the pelvic area while your body goes through its transformation. At The Mayas Nest, we are strong supporters of seeking a pelvic floor specialist or program, like Pelvienne Wellness for all our clients because it is so important to uterine health during and after pregnancy.
But what about herbs? If you're a new mom, you might have heard some talk about red raspberry leaf tea. It's so well known, that you can often find it in the natural tea section of your local grocery store.
Red raspberry (Rubus Idaeus) leaves have been used for centuries in women's health as a uterine tonic. A 'tonic' in herbal medicine is generally a group of herbs that will strengthen, restore and regenerate the body and/or a specific organ. In the case of red raspberry leaf tea, it is considered mostly a uterine tonic, as it tones, strengthens and restores the uterus. Red raspberry leaf traditionally is used to reduce postpartum hemorrhage and to restore the uterus to normal size, reduce the after pains of labour and for heavy menses. It has also been used for treatment of diarrhea, bacterial infection, and for inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, though red raspberry leaf tea is considered a women's herb and is most often used for its uterine benefits. There is even some research showing that it may shorten labour for some women .
Did you know that the leaves are high in calcium & magnesium? These are both essential in muscle contraction and tone and nerve conduction... those things are play an important role in birth! As with all herbals, keep in mind that just because its in nature doesn't mean it isn't powerful medicine! Please take caution in your first trimester as the relaxation effects of red raspberry leaf tea may be too effective and may be unsafe to consume in early pregnancy. It is my opinion, it is best during the first trimester to avoid most medicinal herbs. However, there aren't any reported toxicity dangers  to drinking red raspberry leaf tea, so most mums can benefit from this amazing herb without worry once they are outside of their first trimester.
So, what is this special red raspberry leaf?
Plain and simple, it's the same raspberry thats probably growing in your back yard or local trail. If you are lucky enough to have a raspberry bush (that is organic i.e, no pesticides and free from animal urine) you can make your own tea, very simply.
The basic recipe is 2 tsp of dried herb for 1 cup of water. If you've never tasted natural red raspberry leaf tea, fresh, its very similar to the taste of green tea, I find. Consume 1-2 cups up to three times daily.
It's best if you harvest the leaves in the spring or before the berry season ends. Its very easy to dry them-- just lay them on a tea towel over night and by morning you should be able to crush them in your hands. Then, steep like any loose tea. To get the maximum benefits, steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking.
Please note - this is not medical advice. Before ingesting any herbs, you may want to confirm with your medical care provider.
Holly, Coquitlam Doula
 Parsons, M., Simpson, M., & Ponton, T. (1999). Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: Safety and efficacy. Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal, 12(3), 20–25. doi:10.1016/s1031-170x(99)80008-7
 Dr. Marciano, Marisa & Dr. Vizniak, Nikita. Botanical Medicine, Herbs, Nutrition, Hormones & Medications. Canada. Professional Health Systems Inc. 2016. Print. Pg. 302-303
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