Can raspberry leaf bring on labour?

The herbal remedy raspberry leaf or raspberry leaf tea (also known as red raspberry leaf tea) shouldn’t be used to start labour as it may be harmful to your baby. However, taking raspberry leaf earlier on in your pregnancy may help prime your womb (uterus) to make labour easier. This is because it’s thought to tone the muscles of your womb (uterine muscles) so they work more efficiently when you're in labour. But the evidence isn’t strong and it's not suitable for pregnant women with health complications, like high blood pressure or if you’re expecting a breech birth. You also shouldn't take it too close to your due date.

How does raspberry leaf tea help with labour?

Raspberry leaf is a herbal remedy that can be taken as capsules or tea, not to be confused with raspberry fruit tea. Many herbalists believe that taking raspberry leaf during your last trimester tones your womb muscles ready for when labour comes. The idea is that this will then help labour progress at a nice, steady pace.

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Some complementary therapists also believe it helps to soften the cervix ready for labour, although there’s no firm evidence for this.

More research is needed to say for sure that raspberry leaf tea works.

Can I take raspberry leaf tea to help with labour?

Always talk to your midwife and a medical herbalist with experience of pregnancy before drinking the tea or taking capsules.

Raspberry leaf contains chemicals which act in exactly the same way as drugs. It may not be safe for you and your growing baby. Even if it is, it's important to make sure you're taking or drinking a dose that's safe for you both.

If you do decide to give it a try, it’s recommended you start with a low dose when you’re about 32 weeks pregnant. You can then take it in gradually increasing doses. You could start with one cup of tea a day, gradually increasing to three cups spread throughout the day.

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If you don't like the taste of the tea, you can buy raspberry leaf capsules in health food stores – just be sure to follow the directions on the pack.

Why can’t I take raspberry leaf tea to start labour or close to my due date?

If you suddenly start taking the remedy when you are at term or overdue, it may cause contractions that are so intense that your baby becomes distressed.

That’s why you shouldn’t use raspberry leaf tea too close to your due date or to bring on labour.

I’m overdue. Can I carry on taking raspberry leaf tea if I’ve been taking it for a while already?

If you go overdue, it's fine to carry on drinking the tea or taking the capsules if you've already been taking raspberry leaf for a few weeks. But don't suddenly start taking a lot of it once you're past your due date, as this may distress your baby.

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Provided you have been taking raspberry leaf for a few weeks already, during early labour at home, you can either sip hot tea or suck ice cubes made from the tea. You could also take a flask of the tea with you into hospital or your birth centre. However, don't take the tea if your labour is being induced, or if you are having treatment with a hormone drip to speed up labour.

I have high blood pressure, can I still take raspberry leaf tea?

No, raspberry leaf tea is not recommended if you have high blood pressure or any other complications or health problems in your pregnancy, including gestational diabetes. Don’t take it either if:

  • You had a previous labour that lasted only three hours or less, from start to finish.
  • You’re scheduled to have a planned c-section.
  • You’ve had a c-section before.
  • You’ve had a premature labour before.
  • You’ve had vaginal bleeding in the second half of your pregnancy.

It would also be wise not to have raspberry leaf tea if you:

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  • Have a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or fibroids.
  • Are expecting a baby who is breech.
  • Are expecting twins.

Can raspberry leaf tea cause Braxton Hicks contractions?

It may do. If you have strong Braxton Hicks contractions after drinking the tea, cut down the amount you drink, or stop taking it.

What other side effects can raspberry leaf tea have?

Raspberry leaf tea can also cause other side-effects, such as diarrhoea and nausea, so be careful you don’t overdo it.

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Get more advice on herbal teas and remedies in pregnancy.

See more about labour and being overdue

  • Find out whether hypnobirthing can make labour easier and less painful.
  • Watch our expert video on the signs of labour.
  • Find out how long a normal pregnancy should be.
  • Read what our expert has to say on speeding up labour.


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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.