Herbs for Pregnancy
Herbs have a long tradition of use both throughout pregnancy and for childhood ailments.
Much of our present day knowledge comes from a tradition of herbal midwifery and many health-care professionals actively encourage the use of natural products. These guidelines are designed to give you a framework for using natural products during your pregnancy and with your child. They are not intended to form a sole reference for those seeking to enjoy holistic pregnancy and birth: rather they form the basis for discussion between parents, midwife and Medical Herbalist. Do remember that each person, each child and each pregnancy are different. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice for any ailment and also before using over the counter remedies to treat yourself when pregnant.
Chamomile and ginger tea are often used to treat nausea in pregnancy. There are no safety concerns raised in the available published research literature about chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or ginger (Zingiber officinale).
Stinging nettle leaf has been traditionally used as a nutritional supplement for pregnant women. There are no safety concerns raised in the available published research literature about nettle leaf (Urtica dioica).
There is no evidence that drinking peppermint tea occasionally is harmful when pregnant. Some of the concern on the internet about peppermint, and the mixed messages, have come about as peppermint essential oil should not be ingested in pregnancy. The APHA Botanical Safety Handbook, a large review in 2003, found that while research quoted a lack of information on the safety of peppermint leaf tea (Mentha piperita), there were no concerns identified for use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Lemon balm, used for mild stress and digestion, is another herb that the APHA say " Although this review did not identify any concerns for use while pregnant or nursing, safety has not been conclusively established." As with peppermint tea, taken in moderation, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) can be drunk in pregnancy. One word of caution though is if you have ever had problems with an underactive thyroid. In this case, avoid it during pregnancy.
Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) is used in in late pregnancy to strengthen and tone the uterus, assisting contractions during labour. Drink as an infusion during the last trimester: Weeks 28-32 – one cup daily. Weeks 33-36 – two cups daily. Week 37 onwards – at least three cups daily. More on raspberry leaf tea here.
Squaw vine can be combined with raspberry leaf to enhance the properties of your herbal tea.
Wheatgerm oil is a rich natural source of Vitamin E with excellent skin healing properties. Massage into the perineum daily throughout the third trimester.
Essential Oils of frankincense, lavender and mandarin are often blended together to help the skin stretch without leaving any marks. For best results blend with wheatgerm oil and use daily during pregnancy.
During labour it is important to maintain energy levels, especially during the first stage, which can be long and tiring. Fresh plant juices or tinctures such as oats or Korean ginseng can be taken to help maintain stamina.
During childbirth gentle massage with essential oils can be comforting. Oils including Clary Sage, Marjoram, Geranium, and Chamomile can be diluted in a light base such as Grapeseed or Almond Oil.
Choose a pre-natal multivitamin formula from a reputable supplier for optimum nutrition.
Folic acid is essential for the division of body cells and is highly recommended during pregnancy.
Iron in a non-constipating form is available such as Salus Haus Floravital.