By Patricia Newton
Note: Be sure to discuss this with your medical care provider before taking any herbs during pregnancy or lactation.
When my midwife, during my first pregnancy, suggested that I start taking red raspberry capsules, I was intrigued. "I guarantee that you will not have a typical first labor," she said. My complete trust and long-time admiration in this woman contributed to my not hesitating to following her directions. If it hadnít have worked, I wonder what her "guarantee" would have been. I donít have to worry about that because I believe that the herb did work indeed. I have taken the herb religiously during my three pregnancies and would not ever dream of going through a labor without having taken the red raspberry.
As Louise Tenney, M.H. writes in her book Todayís Herbal Health: The Essential Reference Guide, Fourth Edition, "red raspberry is one of the most renowned herbs used by women, especially during pregnancy. It contains nutrients that help to strengthen the uterus wall, reduce nausea, prevent hemorrhage, and reduce pain of childbirth. Red raspberry helps reduce false labor pains common in some pregnancies. It also helps enrich the colostrum found in breast milk. Drinking the tea will relieve painful menstruation and aid the blood flow. If your flow is too heavy, red raspberry tea will help it decrease uterine swelling and cut down on post-partum bleeding. Besides being good for women, red raspberry is a wonderful herb for children to use in case of colds, diarrhea, colic and fevers. It is also a good remedy for infants who suffer from dysentery and diarrhea. Red raspberry contains vitamins A, C, D, E, G, F, and B. It is rich in iron and calcium and contains phosphorus and manganese." (pp 133, 134).
During pregnancy, a cup of the tea made from the dried leaves may be taken daily. It may be sweetened with honey if desired. Many women drink the tea after childbirth, as it helps with all female organ-related problems. When combined with Blessed Thistle, it is highly effective in increasing the quality and quantity of breastmilk. Both red raspberry and blessed thistle teas are available in bagged and loose form (bulk) at most health food stores.
Instead of drinking the red raspberry tea, the Red Raspberry Combination Capsules may be taken. This is what I have done during all of my pregnancies, rather than drinking the tea. Natureís Herbs markets these capsules, and they are sold at health food stores. For a bottle of 100 capsules, it will cost you around $10. Another company also has the product, under the name of "PN-6". Following is the schedule that must be adhered to when taking the capsules.
Week 36: Take one capsule daily, (preferably at about the same time each day). Week 37: Take two capsules daily, (one in the morning and one in the evening). Week: 38: Take four capsules daily, (two in the morning and two in the evening). Week 39: Take five capsules daily, (one in am, one at lunch, one mid-afternoon, one in the evening, one at bedtime).
If you should finish the schedule, and still havenít delivered yet, donít worry. Donít keep taking the capsules. I doubt if anything would happen if you continued the capsules, but itís best to just stick to the schedule. All of my babies were "late" and I know that the herbs still worked.
Taking the red raspberry combination will not guarantee that your labors will be two hours long and your baby will fly out after only one push. It will, however, tone your uterus and help it work more efficiently than had you not taken it.
Another major factor in easing childbirth is visualization. Our minds are extremely powerful. I strongly suggest that every pregnant woman read Mind Over Labor, by Carl Jones. Visualization in combination with natureís herbs will no doubt help your body do its work in the labor process. Do not fear labor. Women have been delivering babies for how many years? Remember, "It (labor) is supposed to work." Read all that you can about the childbirth experience, block out all the horror stories everyone loves to tell you when youíre pregnant, and try to relax. You'll do just fine.
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