Nourishing Pregnancy Tea: Red Raspberry & Nettle Leaf
My husband has nicknamed this tea my magic potion, or witches’ brew. That’s because it’s an infusion tea, made with dried herbs that I store in jars and allow to rest overnight, and I don’t disagree that the process of making it doesn’t look (and feel!) a little magical.
I’ve been dabbling in herbalism since last summer when we began our conception journey. It’s absolutely amazing to learn about the power of plants – so many ailments can be healed using nature’s bounty. As someone who avoids chemicals and medicines, I always try to go the natural route first.
This super-nourishing pregnancy tea is made with stinging nettle leaf and red raspberry leaf, and I like to add goji berries for a little extra flavor and nutrient power. While I cover many of the benefits for pregnancy below, you will see that this tea is also great for general health whether pregnant or not, as well as increasing fertility.
I began drinking a nettle infusion after working with a local herbalist back in Brooklyn years ago, and it has so many benefits for all people, pregnant or not, including reducing inflammation, heart and kidney health, strengthening bones, benefiting the urinary tract system, strengthening the immune system, assisting with digestion, and more.
From Susun Weed’s book Wisewoman Herbal for the Childbearing Year: Nettle leaf, or urtica dioca, is one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known as necessary for human health and growth. Vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulphur are particularly abundant in nettles.
As we began trying to conceive, I also learned that nettle leaf is thought to increase fertility in both women and men, so I began drinking it again.
But perhaps it’s the kidney benefits that make nettle leaf one of the most nourishing herbs for pregnant women. Your body produces up to 50% more blood during pregnancy, and the main function of our kidneys is to filter and clean our blood.
Nettle leaf helps with chronic fatigue during pregnancy (which has been a major symptom for me in all trimesters) and low energy associated with low iron levels.
I discovered red raspberry leaf once I was pregnant, as it appeared in multiple pregnancy books as an herb that strengthens and tones the uterus. Thus, it helps prepare our bodies for birth and to ease labor pains, contractions, and even recovery. The astringency of the herb helps to prevent miscarriage and hemorrhaging during labor and postpartum, and its high mineral count helps with milk production during breastfeeding.
And even when you’re not pregnant, red raspberry leaf is a great herb for adrenal fatigue, metabolism, and digestion as well as easing symptoms during your monthly cycle. Similar to stinging nettle, it is also thought to enhance fertility for both women and men.
While some people seem to think that red raspberry leaf causes contractions, in my research and studies I have found this to be an old wives’ tale. But you should always consult with your care provider if you are so inclined – one thing I’ve learned is that opinions vary widely according to doctor, midwife, etc.
Goji berries are not a necessary addition, but I like adding them as they add a bit of flavor and also contain even more nutrients to benefit pregnancy. Goji berries are high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A (which we need a lot more of during pregnancy). They are an excellent source of antioxidants and have so many other benefits including improving immune function, preventing cancer, maintaining blood sugar, to name a few.
The difference between tea and an infusion comes down to the strength and amount of herbs used: An infusion uses more herbs, and is steeped for a longer period of time. When working with herbs medicinally, infusions are more typical.
You can purchase stinging nettle leaf and red raspberry leaf from your local herbalist or trusted health food store. I order mine online from Mountain Rose Herbs, as it is a widely reputed and trustworthy source among the herbalism community.
Makes about 3 cups.
Combine ingredients in a quart-sized glass mason jar. Pour boiling water over the contents in the jar. Replace lid and gently give the jar a shake to mix (use a towel to hold as the glass will be hot). Allow to sit for 12-24 hours.*
Strain and enjoy chilled. Try it with a squeeze of lemon!
*Typically I make this in the evening and leave it on the counter overnight. Sometimes if I don’t have time to strain it in the morning I will put it in the fridge until I’m ready to strain.
There are all different recommendations for how one often should drink this tea. Some say to have one cup a day during the first trimester, two a day during the second, and increase to three a day during the third. I just say make it as often as you’d like.