Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in Pregnancy

Red raspberry leaf is a herb that is used medicinally for thousands of years. Raspberry leaf has been used by indigenous cultures in Australia for thousands of years. In the 1940s, western medicine practitioners began to use it as a tonic for the uterus during pregnancy and childbirth.

Benefits Of Red Raspberry Leaf

raspberries

Red raspberry leaves contains a rich assortment of vitamins including Vitamin B complex, calcium, iron, magnesium and fragarine. Across the world, red raspberry leaf is used to treat flu, loose stool, acne, lowering the blood sugar of diabetic women, regulate irregular menstrual cycles, decrease heavy periods and lowering blood pressure to name some of the most popular uses.

When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is believed to aid the mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation. Taking raspberry leaf is said to strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth, as well as assisting with breast milk supply.

Studies have shown that women who take red raspberry leaf have a reduced incidence of birth interventions. Research has also found that women who drink red raspberry leaf tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had shorter second stages of labour than those who don’t. Yay!

Source: Study published by Australian midwives in 1999:

“The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The findings suggest that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggest ingestion of the drug might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”

Red Raspberry Leaf can be consumed by drinking a tea, herbal capsules, or tinctures (be careful these often contain alcohol)

You can have up to 4-5 cups of raspberry leaf tea in your third trimester, but have at least 2-3. If you’re in your first trimester, one cup per day is fine. Some providers and practitioners suggest that Red Raspberry Leaf can overstimulate the uterus in the first trimester and recommend waiting until mid 2nd trimester before consuming to reduce the risk of miscarriage. 

If you prefer raspberry leaf tablets/capsules follow the recommended dosage…

Most women do not experience any side effects from taking raspberry leaf tea, however some women report some nausea and loose stool associated with red raspberry leaf, with the most reported side effect being an Increase in Braxton Hicks contractions (CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU EXPERIENCE STRONG BRAXTON HICKS, especially if you are before term)

 Avoid consuming red raspberry leaf without consulting your doctor or midwife if you:

  • Have previously had a short labour of three hours of less
  • Have previously had a caesarean section
  • Have previously had premature labour
  • Have experienced vaginal bleeding since week 20
  • Are having a planned caesarean section
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have previously had breast or ovarian cancer, fibroids or endometriosis
  • Have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, fibroids or endometriosis
  • Are expecting twins
  • Have any complications or health problems in your pregnancy

You should always tell your healthcare provider if you are planning to take red raspberry leaf during your pregnancy.

It is generally recommended not to start taking red raspberry leaf until you are at least 32 weeks pregnant, but if you wish to take it sooner, simply check with your doctor, midwife, or naturopath. You can then continue to take it until the end of the pregnancy.

Post Partum benefits: Red raspberry leaf during and after you give birth is known to help your uterus shrink back down, boost your immune system, assist with milk supply and fighting infection. Those who encapsulate their placentas often use red raspberry leaf in their herbal placenta blend.

I personally consumed red-raspberry leaf tea through my 2nd & third trimesters of my last 3 babies. During the early labor phase I could be seen brewing RRL tea, and sipping throughout my early labor, and again post partum.  I think this herb doesn’t get enough props or attention as it is very valuable to the female reproductive system.
This post is not medical advice and is not a substitute for seeing your health care provider.

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Some inspiration to help you kick butt for your baby!

Need some inspiration to quit smoking?

N.C. Mortality rate for infants who never made it to their 1st birthday increased in 2012 for the second year in a row. Of those deaths, 182 were congenital malformations/deformations/ chromosome abnormalities, 210 died from prematurity or low birth weight…..
Surgeon General’s Warning specifically declares smoking dangerous and a contributor to birth defects, prematurity, and mortality.
There are quit-smoking programs in the community available with tools, resources and incentives to help you make a healthy decision for you and your baby. Contact your local health department for more information!

kickbuttforyourbaby

Placenta Encapsulation Tutorial

****WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURES****

I previously posted regarding the benefits of consuming your placenta post partum in detail with scientific evidence (see previous blog post for the long details & evidence)

The benefits of placenta encapsulation include:

  • Decrease in baby blues & PPD (Post Partum Depression).
  • Increasing and enriching breastmilk supply
  • Increase in energy (Yay!)
  • Decrease in lochia, postpartum bleeding (Very cool!)
  • Decrease iron deficiency or post partum anemia.
  • Decrease insomnia and sleep disorders.
  • Decreases postpartum “night sweats”.

        The placenta’s hormonal make-up is completely unique to the mother. No vitamin, supplement or pill can equal what the placenta can do. Isn’t that pretty cool? It has also been reported to being made into a tincture to be given to the baby that it once supported during infancy and childhood for a variety of benefits. 

*******WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURES***********

OK SO NOW I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO ENCAPSULATE YOUR OWN…
PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION TUTORIAL
Supplies Needed:

Gloves
Steamer for stove top
Fresh ginger and lemon
Cutting Board
Capsules, 150-200
Dehydrator or Oven

Food Processor or Coffee Grinder or (mortar & pestal- if your a fabulous and strong eco warrior)
Sanitizer and bleachSTEP 1. Place placenta in strainer/colander in sink. Rinse under water removing blood clots.Preparing my placenta that supported my son 07/07/12 before processing My placenta that supported my son 07/07/12 ready for encapsulation

STEP 2. *Not for the squeemish* Place on cutting board and severe cord at base. It will likely bleed little bit. 

If you prefer to do the raw method you would thinly slice the placenta after you have cleaned it. Laying the slices on dehydrator trays(or in the oven), keeping the temp below 118F to preserve maximum nutrients and keep enzymes intact.

STEP 3. Begin steaming it on the stove, (I don’t find this an offensive smell, but it can be strong and distinct to some, this may be a good time to send guests and your hubby out for a while and open a window). Wrap placenta membrane fetal side around placenta into a ball. Place lemon & ginger in water in steamer. Put placenta in steam basket and cover. Steam on medium for about 15mins on *each side*. Bleed whiling steaming (stabbing/poking it). SKIP THIS STEP IF YOU ARE DOING THE RAW METHOD

2012-07-07_17.26.11-2

My Placenta After Steaming/Before Slicing

STEP 4. Slice up placenta into thin strips at this point. If you are using a low oven to dehydrate your placenta, set oven to lowest temp. It takes 12-24hrs to dehydrate depending on method used.  It’s best to slice thin and keep them uniform in thickness and length so they dehydrate evenly. 

STEP 5.  GRIND THE STRIPS.. Using a strong grinder or processor, grind placenta strips. They are going to be very hard. You want to grind them down to a fine powder. You may want to break the dehydrated strips in half prior to grinding, actually I recommend this so you don’t break your grinder/processor which I have heard can happen. This is the time to add/mix in any familiar and beneficial dried herbs if desired.

STEP 6.  Fill capsules. One placenta will yield *about 125-175 capsules*. You can use equipment like The Capsule Machine but I have done mine by hand and it wasn’t too bad. A good capsule size is “00”.There are smaller size capsules available. 

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My Placenta After:        Encapsulated

STEP 7. Store capsules in refrigerator or freezer, they will keep indefinitely. How many to take depends on the mother and her needs. . Typically 1-3 caps 2-3 times a day.. Depending on the herbs you used, and the level of need this should be tailored. Generally most moms start of with the 1-3, 3  times a day- and then taper down after a week or two. If mom is feeling fatigued, low milk supply or emotionally fragile you can increase dosage or take anytime down the road for a pick-me-up. (THIS ISN’T MEDICAL ADVICE or Substitute for Medical care)

STEP 8.  Clean up & Sanitize everything

This post is not medical advice and is not a substitute for seeing your health care provider. 

The Natural Benefits of Placentophagy (Consuming your Placenta Post Partum)

The placenta is an amazing organ that after birth most mammals will eat it to complete the birth process instinctually. In many cultures and societies this is still a common normal practice. In the USA it is trending in more acceptance and awareness. There are a variety of ways that you can consume your placenta. Some midwives will encourage their mothers to take a raw bite at the birth to help ease the recovery immediately.

The more popular routes to consumption in modern cultures are to prepare recipes with the placenta or if that doesn’t sound very appetizing, you can always process the placenta and encapsulate it like a pill.

Why would anyone eat their placenta? Does this sound barbaric to you? Modern day cannabelism? Nah, it’s really natural. Think about it. Most mammals will consume the placenta after birth. Why wouldn’t humans? Take a moment to really be present with that…

The benefits of placenta encapsulation include:

  • Decrease in baby blues & PPD (Post Partum Depression).
  • Increasing and enriching breastmilk supply
  • Increase in energy (Yay!)
  • Decrease in lochia, postpartum bleeding (Very cool!)
  • Decrease iron deficiency or post partum anemia.
  • Decrease insomnia and sleep disorders.
  • Decreases postpartum “night sweats”.

        The placenta’s hormonal make-up is completely unique to the mother. No vitamin, supplement or pill can equal what the placenta can do. Isn’t that pretty cool? It has also been reported to being made into a tincture to be given to the baby that it once supported during infancy and childhood for a variety of benefits. 

Below is an article on the scientific benefits on consuming the placenta or also known as placentophagy from Placenta Benefits Ltd.. Futher information can be found on their website at http://placentabenefits.info/articles.asp 

“Scientific Evidence

Placenta as Lactagagon
Soykova-Pachnerova E, et. al.(1954). Gynaecologia 138(6):617-627.

An attempt was made to increase milk secretion in mothers by administration of dried placenta per os. Of 210 controlled cases only 29 (13.8%) gave negative results; 181 women (86.2%) reacted positively to the treatment, 117 (55.7%) with good and 64 (30.5%) with very good results. It could be shown by similar experiments with a beef preparation that the effective substance in placenta is not protein. Nor does the lyofilised placenta act as a biogenic stimulator so that the good results of placenta administration cannot be explained as a form of tissue therapy per os. The question of a hormonal influence remains open. So far it could be shown that progesterone is probably not active in increasing lactation after administration of dried placenta.

This method of treating hypogalactia seems worth noting since the placenta preparation is easily obtained, has not so far been utilized and in our experience is successful in the majority of women.

Placentophagia: A Biobehavioral Enigma
KRISTAL, M. B. NEUROSCI. BIOBEHAV. REV. 4(2) 141-150, 1980.

Although ingestion of the afterbirth during delivery is a reliable component of parturitional behavior of mothers in most mammalian species, we know almost nothing of the direct causes or consequences of the act. Traditional explanations of placentophagia, such as general or specific hunger, are discussed and evaluated in light of recent experimental results. Next, research is reviewed which has attempted to distinguish between placentophagia as a maternal behavior and placentophagia as an ingestive behavior. Finally, consequences of the behavior, which may also be viewed as ultimate causes in an evolutionary sense, are considered, such as the possibility of beneficial effects on maternal behavior or reproductive competence, on protection against predators, and on immunological protection afforded either the mother or the young.

Placenta for Pain Relief:
Placenta ingestion by rats enhances y- and n-opioid antinociception, but suppresses A-opioid antinociception
Jean M. DiPirro*, Mark B. Kristal

Ingestion of placenta or amniotic fluid produces a dramatic enhancement of centrally mediated opioid antinociception in the rat. The present experiments investigated the role of each opioid receptor type (A, y, n) in the antinociception-modulating effects of Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF—presumably the active substance). Antinociception was measured on a 52 jC hotplate in adult, female rats after they ingested placenta or control substance (1.0 g) and after they received an intracerebroventricular injection of a y-specific ([D-Pen2,D-Pen5]enkephalin (DPDPE); 0, 30, 50, 62, or 70 nmol), A-specific ([D-Ala2,N-MePhe4,Gly5-ol]enkephalin (DAMGO); 0, 0.21, 0.29, or 0.39 nmol), or n-specific (U-62066; spiradoline; 0, 100, 150, or 200 nmol) opioid receptor agonist. The results showed that ingestion of placenta potentiated y- and n-opioid antinociception, but attenuated A-opioid antinociception. This finding of POEF action as both opioid receptor-specific and complex provides an important basis for understanding the intrinsic pain-suppression mechanisms that are activated during parturition and modified by placentophagia, and important information for the possible use of POEF as an adjunct to opioids in pain management.
D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Effects of placentophagy on serum prolactin and progesterone concentrations in rats after parturition or superovulation.
Blank MS, Friesen HG.: J Reprod Fertil. 1980 Nov;60(2):273-8.

In rats that were allowed to eat the placentae after parturition concentrations of serum prolactin were elevated on Day 1 but concentrations of serum progesterone were depressed on Days 6 and 8 post partum when compared to those of rats prevented from eating the placentae. In rats treated with PMSG to induce superovulation serum prolactin and progesterone values were significantly (P < 0.05) elevated on Days 3 and 5 respectively, after being fed 2 g rat placenta/day for 2 days. However, feeding each rat 4 g placenta/day
significantly (P < 0.02) lowered serum progesterone on Day 5. Oestrogen injections or bovine or human placenta in the diet had no effect. The organic phase of a petroleum ether extract of rat placenta (2 g-equivalents/day) lowered peripheral concentrations of progesterone on Day 5, but other extracts were ineffective. We conclude that the rat placenta contains orally-active substance(s) which modify blood levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones.

Baby blues – postpartum depression attributed to low levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone after placenta is gone – Brief Article

Many new mothers feel depressed for weeks after giving birth. Physicians have vaguely attributed this malaise to exhaustion and to the demands of motherhood. But a group of researchers at the National Institutes of Health has found evidence for a more specific cause of postpartum blues. New mothers, the researchers say, have lower than normal levels of a stress-fighting hormone that earlier studies have found helps combat depression.
When we are under stress, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus secretes corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH. Its secretion triggers a cascade of hormones that ultimately increases the amount of another hormone – called cortisol – in the blood. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels and maintains normal blood pressure, which helps us perform well under stress. Normally the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream is directly related to the amount of CRH released from the hypothalamus. That’s not the case in pregnant women.
During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a lot of CRH. The rise is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold. “We can only speculate,” says George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, “but we think it helps women go through the stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.”
But what happens after birth, when the placenta is gone? Chrousos and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17, women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH – as low as seen in some forms of depression – in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed.
Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH.
“This finding gives reassurance to people that postpartum depression is a transient phenomenon,” says Chrousos. “It also suggests that there is a biological cause.”
COPYRIGHT 1995 Discover
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Maternal Iron Deficiency Anemia Affects Postpartum Emotions and Cognition
John L. Beard, et. al.; J. Nutr. 135: 267–272, 2005.

ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to determine whether iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in mothers alters their maternal cognitive and behavioral performance, the mother-infant interaction, and the infant’s development. This article focuses on the relation between IDA and cognition as well as behavioral affect in the young mothers. This prospective, randomized, controlled, intervention trial was conducted in South Africa among 3 groups of mothers: nonanemic controls and anemic mothers receiving either placebo (10 g folate and 25 mg vitamin C) or daily iron (125 mg FeS04, 10 g folate, 25 mg vitamin C). Mothers of full-term normal birth weight babies were followed from 10 wk to 9 mo postpartum (n 81). Maternal hematologic and iron status, socioeconomic, cognitive, and emotional status, motherinfant interaction, and the development of the infants were assessed at 10 wk and 9 mo postpartum. Behavioral and cognitive variables at baseline did not differ between iron-deficient anemic mothers and nonanemic mothers. However, iron treatment resulted in a 25% improvement (P  0.05) in previously iron-deficient mothers’ depression and stress scales as well as in the Raven’s Progressive Matrices test. Anemic mothers administered placebo did not improve in behavioral measures. Multivariate analysis showed a strong association between iron status variables (hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, and transferrin saturation) and cognitive variables (Digit Symbol) as well as behavioral variables (anxiety, stress, depression). This study demonstrates that there is a strong relation between iron status and depression, stress, and cognitive functioning in poor African mothers during the postpartum period. There are likely ramifications of this poorer “functioning” on mother-child interactions and infant development, but the constraints around this relation will have to be defined in larger studies.

The Impact of Fatigue on the Development of Postpartum Depression
Elizabeth J. Corwin, et.al. (2005); Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 34 (5) , 577–586

Background: Previous research suggests early postpartum fatigue (PPF) plays a significant role in the development of postpartum depression (PPD). Predicting risk for PPD via early identification of PPF may provide opportunity for intervention.

Objective: To replicate and extend previous studies concerning the impact of PPF on symptoms of PPD and to describe the relationships among PPF, PPD, and other variables using the theory of unpleasant symptoms.

Design: Correlational, longitudinal study.

Setting: Participants’ homes.

Participants: Convenience sample of 42 community-dwelling women recruited before 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Main Outcome Measures: PPF, depressive symptoms, and stress measured during prenatal weeks 36 to 38, and on Days 7, 14, and 28 after childbirth. Salivary cortisol was measured as a physiological marker of stress.

Results: Significant correlations were obtained between PPF and symptoms of PPD on Days 7, 14, and 28, with Day 14 PPF levels predicting future development of PPD symptoms in 10 of 11 women. Perceived stress, but not cortisol, was also correlated with symptoms of PPD on Days 7, 14, and 28. Women with a history of depression had elevated depression scores compared to women without, but no variable was as effective at predicting PPD as PPF.

Conclusions: Fatigue by Day 14 postpartum was the most predictive variable for symptoms of PPD on Day 28 in this population.

Iron supplementation for unexplained fatigue in non-anaemic women: double blind randomised placebo controlled trial
F Verdon, et. al.; BMJ 2003;326:1124 (24 May), doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7399.1124

Objective: To determine the subjective response to iron therapy in non-anaemic women with unexplained fatigue.

Design: Double blind randomised placebo controlled trial.

Setting: Academic primary care centre and eight general practices in western Switzerland.

Participants: 144 women aged 18 to 55, assigned to either oral ferrous sulphate (80 mg/day of elemental iron daily; n=75) or placebo (n=69) for four weeks.

Main outcome measures: Level of fatigue, measured by a 10 point visual analogue scale.

Results: 136 (94%) women completed the study. Most had a low serum ferritin concentration; <= 20 µg/l in 69 (51%) women. Mean age, haemoglobin concentration, serum ferritin concentration, level of fatigue, depression, and anxiety were similar in both groups at baseline. Both groups were also similar for compliance and dropout rates. The level of fatigue after one month decreased by -1.82/6.37 points (29%) in the iron group compared with -0.85/6.46 points (13%) in the placebo group (difference 0.95 points, 95% confidence interval 0.32 to 1.62; P=0.004). Subgroups analysis showed that only women with ferritin concentrations <= 50 µg/l improved with oral supplementation.

Conclusion: Non-anaemic women with unexplained fatigue may benefit from iron supplementation. The effect may be restricted to women with low or borderline serum ferritin concentrations.

Have we forgotten the significance of postpartum iron deficiency?
Lisa M. Bodnar, et. al.; American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2005) 193, 36–44

The postpartum period is conventionally thought to be the time of lowest iron deficiency risk because iron status is expected to improve dramatically after delivery. Nonetheless, recent studies have reported a high prevalence of postpartum iron deficiency and anemia among ethnically diverse low-income populations in the United States. In light of the recent emergence of this problem in the medical literature, we discuss updated findings on postpartum iron deficiency, including its prevalence, functional consequences, risk factors, and recommended primary and secondary prevention strategies. The productivity and cognitive gains made possible by improving iron nutriture support intervention. We therefore conclude that postpartum iron deficiency warrants greater attention and higher quality care.
2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. “

This post is not medical advice and is not a substitute for seeing your health care provider. 

Should you pre-register with the hospital??

I recently received the following question in an email from a local mom:

Hi, This is our first baby and we are a little curious if it is really neccessary to pre-register in the hospital for the birth, does it make the process faster or is it ok to just register once we arrive that day??? what do you reccommend?

Is it necessary to pre-register at the hospital before the birth? Is there any benefits?

I do highly recommend that you do pre-register before hand with your local hospital. It may not even be a bad idea to this even if you are home birthing, just in case!

Pre-registration can help the hospital to know important information ahead of time regarding you, your patient information, insurance, your emergency contact information, expected due date, your physician information, family status, and other useful information that you would want the hospital to stay updated on. This can be especially helpful in hopeful unlikely event of emergency in which you may not be able to answer these questions.

While you may still be asked questions upon your arrival, the process of pre-registering can help speed things up as well.

It only takes about 5 minutes and you can easily call, fax, mail, or go online (many hospitals now offer this online) to pre-register. Some providers offices will take care of this for you, however it never hurts to check in with your practice and find out.

Mission Hospital (which is our local hospital in Buncombe County, NC) has an OB/Preadmission you can update online

http://www.missionhospitals.org/obpreadmission

You may also call the hospital at:  828-213-1508