Nutritive and herbal help for preconception, pregnancy and postpartum and breastfeeding.
The following herbs are safe and beneficial to use at all times in the childbearing year. They can be used alone or in combination. Peppermint, lemon grass and lemon verbena may be added to improve or vary the taste.
Alfalfa – Use dry leaves as tea, live green sprouts or in tablet form. High in many vitamins and minerals especially vitamin K. Good hemorrhage prevention.
Nettle – High in calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, and K. Supports kidneys. Due to high calcium content reduces leg cramps, muscle spasms and to a certain extent pain during labor and after birth. High vitamin K and iron content help reduce risk of postpartum hemorrhage. Supportive in diminishing hemorrhoids.
Oats and Oat straw – Can be taken as tincture, as tea or eaten! In all forms nourishes the nervous system. Tea and grain high in calcium and silica, promotes strong bones, teeth, hair and nails. Useful for hemorrhoids and varicose veins because it strengthens capillaries.
Red Clover – High in many vitamins and protein. Contains almost every trace mineral. Aids in iron absorption. Balances the acid/alkaline level in the body. Extremely useful for promoting fertility.
Red Raspberry – The “herb supreme” for pregnant woman. High in many vitamins and minerals especially calcium and iron. Tones and firms the pelvic muscles and serves to regulate the action of the uterus. This action is useful in preventing miscarriages and hemorrhages, bringing down the placenta and speeding postpartum involution.
Appropriate for use through out pregnancy. Increases fertility in men and women.
Herbs for common complaints of pregnancy:
Anemia – Eat or drink nettle, dandelion, yellow dock, kelp, parsley, chives, wheat grass, red raspberry and dark green leafy vegetables. Foridex Liquid Iron will usually work when all else fails. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Avoid coffee, black tea, chocolate and soda as caffeine inhibits iron absorption.
Constipation – Most herbal laxatives are too strong to take during pregnancy. Psyllium seeds, prunes, and prune juice, molasses, slippery elm, fennel and flax are all gentle and safe. A woman experiencing constipation should also eat a lot of bran found in unrefined grains and vegetables drink plenty of water and get enough exercise.
Gestational Diabetes – Use honey only for sweetening. Prickly pear pads (also called nopalitos) can be eaten to lower blood sugar. Blueberry leaves are also useful in lowering blood sugar levels. Take one or two cups of tea a day. Avoid all white sugar, white flour and processed foods like the plague.
Headaches – Plenty of rest, water, and stable blood sugar will take care of most headaches in pregnancy. Calcium will also help. Herbs high in calcium include greens such as amaranth, lambs quarters, borage, dandelion, mustard, burdock, kelp, parsley, oatstraw, mallows, watercress, nettles, these can be eaten fresh or drunk as tea when dried. Hops, skullcap and catnip can be mixed and taken as tea or in capsules and taken 1 – 2 times a day. Peppermint oil rubbed into temples is also effective.
Heartburn – Eat small meals frequently. Don’t drink liquids while eating meals. Avoid greasy or very spicy foods. Papaya in any form including tablets will help, as will fennel, anise or slippery elm tea.
Hemorrhoids – Drinking plenty of water, not straining when having a bowel movement and doing kegels will help with hemorrhoids. External applications of witch hazel, yarrow, comfrey, mullein, oak bark, and plantain and apple cider vinegar will also help. These can be applied as a sitz bath or swabbed on with a cotton ball. Grated or sliced potato placed on the hemorrhoid is also effective. A comfrey / St. John’s wort salve can be quite soothing. Also try a poultice of green clay mixed with water or witch hazel.
High Blood pressure – Avoid stimulants such as caffeine. Eat plenty of cucumbers (1 a day), garlic, onions and lime juice. Ginger, hawthorn berry, skullcap or linden flower tea, one or two cups daily. Tinctures of skullcap, passion flower, hawthorn berries or valerian 20 drops, 3X a day. Avoiding high blood pressure beings early in pregnancy.
Avoid all white sugar, white flour, partially hydrogenated oils and highly processed foods. Avoid stress. Exercise in the early months (20 minutes of sustained elevated heart rate) to promote health later in pregnancy.
Itchy skin – internally dandelion can be taken as tea, tincture or food. Parsley, alfalfa and wheatgrass may also be eaten or drunk.
Leg Cramps – Calcium supplement helps, as does eating bananas and other food with potassium.
Morning sickness / nausea / vomiting – this can be a tricky problem, one woman might respond well to the first thing you try and another might have to try everything just to find a mediocre remedy. Try one of the following teas:
Peppermint, wild yam, peach leaf, ginger root (may also be taken in capsules up to 1g per day) Cinnamon, catnip, spearmint, raspberry leaf, or fennel seed. Also small frequent meals, instead of 3 big meals. Don’t let your stomach get empty. Vitamin B6 supplements have been known to help.
Stretch Marks – rub with oil (olive is great) containing Elder blossoms, comfrey Rosehips, bee pollen, and /or vitamin E. Some women just have a genetic tendency to get them and not much helps.
Threatened Miscarriage – Cramp Bark or False Unicorn can be used for women who have cramping. (30 drops of crampbark tincture up to every half hour.) 1 – 2 cups of Black haw root tea can be drunk from conception through the 1st trimester for women who have had previous miscarriages. Up to 2000 IU vitamin E daily for threatened miscarriage.
Urinary Tract infections – A three day regime of lots of water, vitamin C, cranberry and lemon juice should take care of most very early UTI’s. Uva usi (not for more than 10 days) can be tried. If there are no results, please come in for a culture. UTIs can promote early labor and turn into kidney infections, if left untreated.
Varicose veins – Internally lecithin, vitamins E and C, oat straw and nettles will support vein and capillary integrity. External applications of witch hazel, yarrow, comfrey, mullein, oak bark, plantain, and apple cider vinegar will also help. Support stockings can help in advanced cases. Avoid hot and spicy foods.
Yeast Infections – Spray, sitz or low pressure douche (douches should be used with care during pregnancy because of the high water pressure on the cervix) with white oak bark, bayberry or slippery elm. Plain live yogurt or acidophilus capsules may be inserted in the vagina. Yeast loves sugar so, avoid all sugars – this includes honey, maple syrup, and
other natural sweets.
Herbs that Help a Woman Relax and Sleep
Skullcap, Valerian, Hops, Catnip, or Passionflower can all be used, in combination or alone. Approximately 1 – 2 droppers full for up to three doses per night.
– Angelica. We may have you drink something with lots of carbs such as apricot juice, to give your body a boost of energy to finish getting placenta detached and out.
Herbs for Postpartum period
Small tears or skid marks – Arnica oil. It reduces swelling and promotes healing.
A sitz bath – Uva ursi and comfrey leaf are the vital ingredients in this postpartum sitz bath, but any of the following may also be added. Calendula, red Raspberry, witch hazel, oak leaves, manzanita, sage, yarrow, garlic, sea salt. The herbs should be steeped as long as possible (at least 15 minutes and overnight is great). The sitz bath should be as hot
as the woman can stand it without scalding of course. The woman should sit in if for at least 15 minutes or for as long as possible. Aloe vera gel can be applied to lessen pain and promote healing.
– All the nutritive herbs will promote milk production to a certain extent. For additional help, you can use any of the following galactogens, Fennel, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Borage or Hops.
– A cabbage leaf that has been crushed by hand or rolling pin may be placed on the breast. Change
when the leaf gets hot. A hot compress of fresh or dried comfrey leaves often works.
– Sage and parsley will both lessen milk flow and can be used
Chapped Sore nipples
– Lanolin, comfrey and calendula salve are all useful. Aloe vera can also be used but
must be rinsed off before nursing because it is quite bitter tasting. Check baby’s latch. Nursing does not have to hurt!
Some Herbs to avoid
Agave – Teratogens, (causing abnormal structures in embryo), Emmenagogue (makes
Angelica – Emmenagogue (causes menstrual flow, cramping. Good for retained placenta)
Basil – as a tincture, Emmenagogue. Eating it as a food is fine.
Beth Root – Emmenagogue
Black Cohosh – Causes uterine cramping
Blessed Thistle – Can cause gastric upset (O.K. for nursing)
Blood root – Sanguine (increases blood circulation, burns)
Blue Cohosh – Use only with caution for promoting lagging labor
Cascara- diarrhea and vomiting
Juniper berry – can be hard on kidneys
Motherwort – skin reaction on contact for some sensitive people
Ma Huang – irritability, nervousness, high-blood pressure
Parsley – dries up milk if used in large quantities or in tincture form while nursing
Dong Quai – Emmenagogue
Ginseng – causes insomnia, nervousness, diarrhea
Goldenseal – be careful
Shepherd’s Purse – Not for pregnancy. Use with caution right after birth for bleeding. Can
cause clots to form in uterus.
Wormwood – diarrhea, cramps