One of the first things you learn when pregnant is a long list of things you shouldn’t do while pregnant. This includes foods you shouldn’t eat and medicines you can’t use. It’s hard to know what you can use and it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do during pregnancy but soldier on. Here are some herbs I love to help women with during their pregnancy.
Nettle can be used throughout pregnancy. It’s great for keeping your energy levels up as it’s a good source of many vitamins and minerals. This includes Vitamin A, B, C, D, K and the mineral iron. It’s a super-food in its own right. Keeping your iron levels is especially good during the last trimester as it’s inevitable that some blood will be lost during labour itself. It’s also good for helping you with a good milk flow after birth. You might find it makes you pee more frequently which can be a bit of a pain but if you get cystitis during pregnancy Nettle can be a life saver. It helps you eliminate any bacteria which might be causing the irritation without worrying about nasty chemicals. It’s best combined with other home remedies like Cranberry juice and Apple cider vinegar if you do get an infection. When you’ve got an infection you’ll want to drink as much of it as you can. But generally speaking 1 cup of tea each day throughout your pregnancy will be enough.
Raspberry is the most well known herb for women during pregnancy. You have probably heard about women using it to start labour. But this isn’t actually very effective. Raspberry leaf is like exercise for your uterus, it takes time to build up strength. Therefore, it’s best to take it throughout the last trimester. Some women even start during the second trimester at one cup of tea a day and work up to 3 cups a day in the last trimester. By toning the uterine muscles it helps you deliver faster and tone back to your pre-baby shape afterwards too. Not only that but it also helps with good milk flow for the baby after birth. So I’d recommend combining it with Nettle and having it for a month after giving birth too. You could continue for longer if you find it helps you feel better.
3. Oat tops
We’re all familiar with porridge but you in herbal medicine it’s the straw and seeds we use. It helps you to relax and restores the nervous system when stress has taken its toll. It’s hard to avoid stress during pregnancy, try as we may, and stress leads to many health problems. The most common is a lowered immunity and higher likelihood of getting some kind of infection. To avoid this happening to you Oat tops is lovely. You can use it throughout the pregnancy and combine it with the other herbs here too. Have between 1-3 cups of tea each day. You can also use it during labour itself if you feel you’re getting a little panicky. Just a little warning that if you’re intolerant to gluten you’ll still need to be sure your oat straw is gluten free as sometimes it’s grown next to wheat and gets contaminated.
Chamomile is a gentle relaxant. We’re all familiar with Chamomile thanks to it’s availability in super markets. Not only does it help you relax but it also helps you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. We now know this is vital for avoiding many infections like the common cold. This healthy balance of gut bacteria is then passed on to our children during child birth and breast feeding. So trying to keep yours in good nick is a great idea. Chamomile can be drunk every day just like the other herbs. It works nicely mixed with the others too.
Marigold grows in many of our gardens. It’s a great herb to know about during pregnancy as it’s perfectly safe from the third trimester as a tea. But it’s safe throughout pregnancy if you use it as a cream. It has anti-fungal properties which make it really useful for treating thrush during the last trimester of pregnancy. You can use the cream to help heal cracked nipples and prevent thrush passing from nipple to baby and back again too. Apply a little after each feed. I’d recommend the cream by Neal’s Yard Remedies as it’s simple and has no nasties in. Not only does Marigold help heal nipples but it’ll help you heal after labour too. You can make a cup of tea and sit in a bath of it. Drink it as a tea as well to really maximise the benefits.
Here’s a tea you can make up and drink throughout your pregnancy (just to keep things simple)
And here’s one to make for your last trimester and beyond
I'd love to hear how you get on with the herbs you try over on instagram #herbalising. If you're in Kent and would like to learn more I have a workshop coming up just click on the image below for details.