Herbs for A Healthy Pregnancy

Herbs are a lovely, natural way to support mom and baby during pregnancy. They can help provide important vitamins and minerals, ease morning sickness, relieve stress, and help to level out mood swings.

The following tea blend is one that herbalist , Rosemary Gladstar, recommends for pregnant mothers. It is tasty and nourishing. This blend can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy to provide essential nutrients, strengthen muscles used during childbirth, ease stress, and gently boost energy levels.

Pregnancy Tea 

  • 4 parts peppermint or spearmint
  • 3 parts raspberry leaf
  • 3 parts lemongrass
  • 2 parts nettle
  • 2 parts oat straw
  • 2 parts strawberry leaf
  • 1 part comfrey leaf
  • Optional: a pinch of stevia

[TONICS]

Tonic herbs strengthen and improve general, overall health and vitality of the whole body or in some cases, a specific body system. They are gentle enough to be used often over an extended period of time, and in fact, often work best when used regularly.

Raspberry (Rubus)
Raspberry leaf is a safe and widely used herb for supporting pregnancy. Prepared as an infusion,* it makes a lovely uterine and general pregnancy tonic. It can be used regularly throughout pregnancy to nourish mother and baby and to strengthen the muscles used during childbirth.

The leaves of raspberry contain an alkaloid called fragrine, which helps to tone the muscles of the pelvis and uterus. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B complex, C, & E; phosphorus, potassium and iron. The infusion of raspberry leaf also contains calcium in its most absorbable form. The uptake of this mineral is further enhanced by the aforementioned phosphorus, vitamin A & C contained in the leaf.

The regular use of this tonic herb is especially beneficial before and during pregnancy. Prior to conception, raspberry leaf combined with red clover blossoms can help to improve fertility in both men and women. During pregnancy, it can help to ease morning sickness by gently relieving an upset stomach and nausea.
If taken throughout pregnancy, Rubus helps to tone the uterus, which helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage. During childbirth, this toning allows the uterus to contract more effectively, which may make birth faster and easier. Also, because it strengthens the muscles used during labor and delivery, regular use of raspberry leaf during pregnancy can reduce labor pains and healing time after birth.
Raspberry leaf can also be beneficial after the baby is born. The high mineral content of this herb often helps the mother’s body to produce enough breast milk. However, since it is slightly astringent, some mothers may actually experience the opposite effect.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is a wonderfully nourishing tonic herb, especially during pregnancy. It has a high chlorophyll content compared to other herbs and is source of nearly every vitamin and mineral that is known to be needed for human development. It is rich in vitamins A, C, D, & K; calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and sulfur.
Nettle is easy to enjoy. The infusion* is deep and rich tasting. It is also a delicious spring edible in temperate zones. If you’re lucky enough to live in warmer climates, it can be eaten year round.
There are many benefits to regular consumption of nettle before and during pregnancy. Before pregnancy, nettles help to improve fertility in both men and women.

During pregnancy, this herb helps to provide essential nutrients for mother and baby. Nettle infusions supply readily absorbable phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A & D.

Nettles also help to ease leg cramps and other muscle spasms. Since this herb is mildly astringent and generally nourishing, it strengthens the blood vessels can help to reduce hemorrhoids. Additionally, nettles tone and strengthen the kidneys, which have to cleanse 150% of the normal blood flow during most of pregnancy.
Regular use of nettle throughout pregnancy helps to reduce pain during and after childbirth because it is high in easily assimilated calcium, which reduces muscles pains in the uterus, legs, and other areas. It also is an excellent source of vitamin K and increases the amount hemoglobin that is available, both of which help to decrease the risk of bleeding postpartum. In case bleeding after birth does occur, drinking fresh nettle in teaspoon doses will help to slow it. After birth, nettle helps mothers produce rich, abundant breast milk.

[HERBS FOR MORNING SICKNESS]
In her book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, herbalist, Susan Weed, makes the following recommendations for using herbs to help to control morning sickness during pregnancy.

Raspberry (Rubus)

Drink 1-2 cups of tea daily. Sip the infusion* before getting up or suck on ice cubes made from raspberry leaf infusion for best results.


Peppermint (Mentha piperita) or Spearmint (Mentha viridis)

Sip the infusion* first thing in the morning to help prevent nausea.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Take tablespoon doses of ginger tea whenever nausea occurs. This herb is especially helpful for motion sickness and queasiness in the early morning. Ginger capsules (encapsulated dried & powdered ginger root) can be taken to control severe nausea and vomiting throughout pregnancy. Do not take more than 25 capsules per day.
Herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, recommends this tea blend for morning sickness. She advises drinking small amounts throughout the day.

Tea for Morning Sickness 

  • 2 parts peppermint leaf tea
  • 1 part raspberry leaf
  • 1 part peach leaf
  • 1/4 part grated ginger root

Prepare as an infusion.*

 

[HERBS FOR LEVEL EMOTIONS]

Raspberry (Rubus) 

The leaf of this herb is generally calming. Make a tea with up to 1/2 parts peppermint or spearmint to help gently energize and lift your spirits.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

This lovely herb is helps you to better cope with pressure and stress. It calms without causing drowsiness, making it ideal for use at work, home, or whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.

Try taking 5 drops of tincture in a small glass of water to help restore emotional balance. Wait 15 minutes for the full effect to come on. Repeat if necessary. This remedy can be used as often as every 2 hours in times of particular upset. It works best in combination with taking a moment to breath, stretch, and relax before resuming activities.

It is important to note that motherwort can be psychologically habit forming, so do limit use if you begin to feel that it’s difficult to get through the day without it.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

This tincture of this herb promotes deep, refreshing sleep. Take up to 30 drops of dried plant tincture or 5-15 drops of fresh plant tincture 30 minutes before bed. An infusion of the dried plant reduces anxiety and nourishes & strengthens the nerves. Drink 2 cups daily for many months if you are feeling easily upset or like you have frayed nerves.

Rosemary Gladstar recommends the following tea blend for easing stress and anxiety during pregnancy.

Tea for Nervous Stress

  • 3 parts chamomile
  • 1 part nettle
  • 1/8 part sage
  • 1/8 part valerian
  • 1/8 part skullcap

Prepare as an infusion.*

 

[HERBS TO AVOID]

While there are many wonderful herbs that can be used to support pregnancy, there are also some herbs that should be avoided, such as:

  • Pennyroyal
  • Blue cohosh root
  • Golden seal
  • Yarrow
  • Tansy
  • Rue
  • Mistletoe

There are also several common kitchen herbs that can cause miscarriage. Avoid the following herbs during the first trimester and use sparingly after that.

  • Basil
  • Caraway seeds
  • Celery seeds
  • Ginger
  • Fresh horseradish
  • Marjoram
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Watercress

Herbs are a lovely natural way to promote healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Try the above suggestions to help nourish mother and baby and ease many of the problems common during pregnancy.
Any favorite pregnancy herbs I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

*Infusions are steeped teas. To make an infusion, bring water to a boil. Place herbs in a strainer or tea ball in a mug. Pour the hot water over the herbs

 

Resources: 

  • Gaskin, Ina May. Spiritual Midwifery.
  • Gladstar, Rosemary. “Pregnancy and Childbirth.”
  • Weed, Susan. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.
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