The topic of using herbs during pregnancy is a complicated one. There are many health practitioners that will tell you to avoid all herbs while you’re pregnant; with the possible exception of the odd herbal tea. If you or your practitioner has little to no experience with herbs, then avoiding their use is wise. There are plenty of herbs out there, that if used incorrectly, could be quite dangerous to you or your baby.
However, with the proper education and guidance from a qualified herbal practitioner, botanical medicines can have some extraordinary benefits during pregnancy. The key is finding the right information and the right practitioner to help you along this path.
If you are the do-it-yourself type then I will recommend picking up The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Romm. Aviva is a midwife, herbalist and physician working in the United States. The information she provides in her book is well researched, safe and quite helpful for common and treatable pregnancy ailments. While this book is excellent for helping women treat themselves naturally during pregnancy I DO NOT recommend starting any herbal protocol without consulting your doctor, midwife and/or herbalist.
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Herbs You Will Hear About
Once you start researching and reading about herbs during pregnancy there are a few botanicals that will start to pop up on a regular basis. The following three herbs are the most common herbs you will come across – however the list of safe herbs is much longer than this (I recommend Aviva’s book for more information). Again I recommend you speak to your herbalist, midwife and/or doctor before starting any herbal treatment.
Red Raspberry Leaf – Rubus idaeus
If your practitioner is herbal friendly, red raspberry leaf (most likely in tea form) will be the first and possibly only herb they will recommend. Red raspberry leaf is considered perfectly safe to use during pregnancy from the first trimester until delivery. Rubus is a uterine tonic, helping to tone and strengthen the uterus (without causing any spasms or stimulation). Uterine tonics when used during pregnancy will help to make your labour shorter, more efficient and easier (please note I did not say short and easy).
Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica
In infusion or tea form, stinging nettle is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It also helps to promote healthy kidney function, strengthen blood vessels and reduce varicosities. It is very nourishing to the blood and is highly recommended in cases of anemia. While most people prepare it as a tea, fresh nettle can also be prepared as a vegetable. DO NOT eat it raw as it is called stinging nettle for a reason.
Ginger root – Zingiber officinale
Ginger has long been used and its safety is well documented for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This makes it a perfect herb for treating morning sickness, a common ailment for women especially in the first trimester. It should be noted in larger amounts (more than 2 grams per day) Zingiber is contraindicated due to its pungency. However a cup of fresh ginger root tea is perfectly safe.
My Herbal Pregnancy
As a student at Living Earth School of Herbalism, I received one year of treatment from my teacher Michael Vertolli. During this time I got pregnant and Michael continued to treat me. For those who are curious about my herbal treatment I will give you an example of the first formulations my teacher put me on. Please note this formula was specific to me. I have been on herbal tincture for years and my body is used to their effects. My teacher also chose herbs that are spiritual and energetically aligned to my needs. I DO NOT recommend replicating this formulation for yourself. Instead seek out the help of a qualified herbal practitioner. If you live in Durham Region feel free to contact me! Information about my clinic can be found here.
First Trimester Formula
- Rubus idaeus (Red raspberry leaf) – 55%
- Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot herb) – 10%
- Viburnum opulus (High bush cranberry berries) – 10%
- Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm herb) – 20%
- Zingiber officinale (Ginger root) – 5%
I started this formulation on two droppers and was instructed to increase to 3 droppers after two weeks. I had to increase my dosage a bit sooner than that (with my teacher’s consultation) due to some pretty nasty nausea.
In good health,