Have you heard of pregnancy tea? You might have heard of red raspberry leaf tea, at least. There are various ways to make a nourishing tea during pregnancy and today I’ll share how I make mine.
I first heard of “RRL tea” in natural living circles. These ladies were saying that red raspberry leaf tea could strengthen the uterus so contractions are more efficient and labor goes quicker. I’m allllll for that! Haha, well, that’s not true for everyone, but there are vitamins that you get from drinking pregnancy tea, so it is still worth it to drink up. You can drink this any time during your childbearing years, whether pregnant or not. Some of the herbs used are good for children and men, too, so keeping a stash of bulk loose leaf on hand isn’t a bad idea, either way.
Note that some sources say that due to the possibility of uterine stimulation, if you have not already been drinking it prior to conception, you should wait until the third trimester or even until the last month of pregnancy, just in case. If you have an irritable uterus or history of early labor, I would wait. I personally start it around the 27th week or a little earlier.
This time, in preparation for a fifth blessing, if God sees fit to give us another child, I am going to start drinking it prior to pregnancy. I feel I am pretty depleted after having four babies in less than six years. I do take quite a few supplements already, but this is a natural way to get more of what the body needs and stay hydrated at the same time.
I use red raspberry leaf, stinging nettle, alfalfa, and dandelion. There is no caffeine in these herbs!
Red Raspberry Leaf
Made from the leaves of the raspberry bush (yes, the same one that produces the delicious fruit), this plant offers vitamin C, various B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Red raspberry leaf tea can be used for a variety of ailments (such as tummy troubles), but as far as the reproductive system, it has long been used to strengthen the uterine muscles, reduce bleeding, balance hormones, and replenish the mother of vitamins and minerals she may be lacking. It is also said that it can decrease morning sickness and is a blood purifier (which is excellent if you’re going to breastfeed, as mother’s milk is made from her blood). It has been recommended by the Royal College of Midwives in the UK.
Anecdotally, RRL can shorten labor by increasing uterine muscle tone and helping it to work more effectively at expelling the baby. Also, if you drink massive quantities of the stuff toward the end of pregnancy, it can supposedly induce labor. Now, I started drinking pregnancy tea during my third pregnancy, and my labor with him was my longest yet at 19 hours. He was born over a week past my due date, and I had prodromal labor for the last week or so. I also drank pregnancy tea with my fourth child, and had prodromal labor for a MONTH before she came, with a false alarm trip to the hospital at 38 weeks. I tried drinking a strong brew of the tea to get the show on the road and all it did was leave a bitter taste in my mouth. She ended up being born 5 days before my due date and my labor with her was about 10 hours, which was my shortest. So, take these anecdotes with a grain of salt. Every woman’s body is different and every baby is different so it could very well help you in this area, or not at all, or with only some of your pregnancies and not others. I would not suggest just drinking it to try to shorten labor.
Nettle is full of vitamin K, which contributes to blood clotting and can reduce the risk of hemorrhage. It is also high in iron and calcium, like the RRL, and vitamin A. Anytime you can get these vitamins and minerals via food rather than a pill, it is better for your body. A lot of docs like to throw iron pills at pregnant women but you may be able to avoid pregnancy-related anemia with pregnancy tea that includes nettle leaf.
This…is basically grass. Animals eat it. Haha. But it’s actually got a lot of health benefits for humans, too! Chock full of vitamins like the other herbs already mentioned, it supports a lot of the body’s systems, including the endocrine, digestive, detoxification, urinary, and circulatory systems. It is great for milk supply. You can get the powder here or loose leaf here.
I add dandelion to my preggo tea because I have a “congested liver” and also gallstones, and dandelion helps keep the bile flowing and the liver and GB running like a well-oiled machine. I don’t tend to have many flareups during pregnancy and I attribute this at least in part to the dandelion in the tea. Several of the major complications of pregnancy can occur if one has a liver that is not working optimally; these include cholestasis of pregnancy and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia with HELLP syndrome. I do not want to take that risk, so I add the dandelion. The root is what you want for liver support (leaf for kidney support) and it is pretty bitter by itself.
Additional benefits of dandelion tea include help with detox (since it helps the liver along), and some like it as a coffee replacer (taste-wise; there is no caffeine, remember). It also can help keep blood sugar down, which is especially helpful during pregnancy.
Putting It Together
So, I accidentally ordered alfalfa powder instead of loose leaf tea. I tried mixing it into the tea the first couple times I made it and it did not dissolve. It sat on the bottom and tasted nasty! Like grass. Blech. I bought a Capsule Machine and took the time to put the powder into capsules so I could still get the benefits without the yucky taste. I cannot speak for what the loose leaf would taste like, but I’m guessing it still tastes like grass, since that’s basically what it is.
I use the other three herbs to make my tea. It smells like a hint of raspberry, so it’s a sweet, fruity type of smell, although it really does not taste sweet nor fruity. Some ladies hate the taste of it, so if that turns out to be you, you could sweeten it with sugar or honey, or try it with ice or as a hot tea. It is slightly bitter, but you get used to it quickly. I enjoy drinking it, but if I make a batch that turns out a bit strong, I can simply add some filtered water to dilute it after pouring a glass.
As far as recipes, you’ll find varying opinions, but I use a half gallon of water with 5-6 tbsp (~1/3 cup) red raspberry leaf (approximately – these can be heaping b/c it is really light and fluffy), 1-2 tbsp of the nettle, and half a tsp of the dandelion root. If you use dandelion leaf, you can use more, 1-2 tsp. I would take 1-3 capsules (00 size) of the alfalfa each day also.
The process: I fill my half gallon sprouting jar with filtered water and put it in a medium pot to boil. I measure out my herbs into the jar and put a wide mouth funnel (the one that came with my canning supplies) in the opening of the jar. When the water is boiling, I start pouring it into the jar. I do this in the sink in case water spills or the jar breaks from thermal shock (never had an issue with this!). The RRL tends to float on top so I stop pouring about halfway and swivel the jar to get the RRL wet – it can’t steep into the water if it’s not wet! Then I pour the rest of the water in, use a spoon to push down any herb floating on top, and screw the lid on the jar (this is a lid with a mesh grate on it; I would cover with cheesecloth or similar if you do not have a sprouting jar). I let it sit overnight or all day (~12 hours).
After that, I strain the liquid into a pitcher and toss the leaf. I like to drink it cold but not iced, so I stick the pitcher in the fridge. I aim to drink at least 4 cups a day. This makes a strong brew, so you could use less herb or more water (water it down once you pour it). I would start with 1 or 2 cups a day and see how you feel. If you start having a lot of cramps or increased Braxton Hicks, talk to your midwife for her advice.
I always continue drinking the tea into the postpartum period. In my experience, it reduces bleeding time (although, this could be because it expels everything faster due to the increased tone. This can make it look like you are bleeding more than you should. If you have concerns about the amount of bleeding you have, please contact your healthcare professional). That means the dreaded afterpains go away sooner. In addition, it replenishes some of the nutrients you may have lost during labor and postpartum due to the bleeding and trauma (even if you had a perfectly peaceful birth, it is still a trauma to the body), not to mention all the vitamins going to baby during the pregnancy. It can help with milk supply as mentioned before, and can help stabilize hormones.
Before you head to Amazon to buy bulk loose leaf tea, I would suggest researching these herbs for pregnancy to ensure you are okay to make this tea. Nothing is 100% safe for all people so I always encourage people to do their own research before taking my word for something. You could also talk to your midwife; conventional medical professionals like OBs probably wouldn’t have much idea of what you’re talking about.