Not long ago, I was thinking through the birth stories of my three boys (they were born at home; my oldest was not). My younger two boys’ births I remember as being much more intense and somewhat more painful, although to be fair they were much quicker at only 3 hours and 2 hours of really “active” or “hard” labor.
With my oldest son’s birth, I remember as being exhausting because it lasted about 14 hours, but I don’t really remember it being that intense or that painful until perhaps the last hour. And by then it was almost over!
That led me to wonder why. I hadn’t really questioned it because I figured the amount of time in labor played a big role, and plus I didn’t cope as well with my oldest son’s labor because I didn’t really know what to do yet. I found my rhythm in that final hour (which is why I went from 4 to 10 that quickly after hours of no changes!), and I used what I learned to cope with my younger boys’ births, which likely led to the shortened duration.
This is not a story about my boys’ births. You can read those if you want: Daniel’s Birth, Jacob’s Birth, and Nathan’s Birth. This is actually a story about one key factor I’ve been ignoring, that I think might have been partially responsible for the difference in my experience of pain and intensity:
For the last 3 – 4 months of my pregnancy with Daniel, I bought pregnancy tea and then plain red raspberry leaf tea, and I brewed 2 – 4 cups and drank it every morning. In the final weeks, I switched from pregnancy tea to a mix of the two, to only red raspberry leaf at the very end. I did this consistently. I did use these herbs with my other pregnancies, but much like my current one, very inconsistently. Since red raspberry leaf is known to tone the uterus, it wouldn’t be surprising that my tea habit may have played a role in my physically easier birth.
I want to take advantage of these herbs for the upcoming birth of my fifth child. But, as a busy mom of four, having a cup (or four) of tea every morning isn’t always something I can do. We are often on the go for homeschool events, working on projects at home, and more. Breakfast is usually quick, not leisurely. Rather than rely on finding time for a cup of tea, my plan is to create a simple tincture from the same herbs. This has the advantage of requiring only a small dose, and it’s something I can easily take quickly before I run out the door. Problem solved!
I plan to use this tincture starting early in my third trimester, although I will use more of it in the final 3 – 4 weeks and be very consistent about it in the final 6 or so.
This tincture combines two main ingredients: red raspberry leaf and nettles. Both are extremely nourishing, and red raspberry leaf is known specifically for toning smooth muscles in the body, including the uterus.
I often use glycerin for tinctures, but in this case, I’m using vodka, which is more typical for tinctures. I choose 100 proof vodka because tinctures should be half alcohol and half water…and that’s exactly what 100 proof vodka is. This is because it will extract the medicinal properties a little better, and because, of course, it’s only for adults.
DIY: Prenatal Tincture
- 2 parts red raspberry leaf
- 1 part nettle leaf
- 100 proof vodka to cove
- Combine the herbs in a glass jar. I'm using roughly 1 c. red raspberry leaf and 1/2 c. nettle leaf
- Cover with vodka (about 1 c.).
- Put a lid on it and shake to combine.
- Let the tincture sit for 4 - 6 weeks in a cool, dark place (I have a cabinet where I keep all my medicine).
- Strain the tincture through a piece of cheesecloth, squeezing out all the liquid. Store in dark brown glass bottles, ideally with droppers for easy use.
Take about 10 drops per day starting at 28 weeks, increasing to 20 – 30 drops in the final 4 – 6 weeks. This is just a suggestion; use more or less based on your needs and talk to your doctor or midwife for more help.