There may be times in pregnancy that you are experiencing unpleasant symptoms but can’t use any drugs (you shouldn’t, by the way, unless a serious situation exists in which drug use outweighs the risks). Or there may be ways that your body needs supported, nutritionally, during pregnancy. Using herbs can help to support your body and to relieve symptoms. It’s important to know which ones are safe and beneficial, because while some are, others are not (safe or beneficial). So today we’ll talk about those herbs!
Red raspberry leaf — Tones the uterus, good source of calcium. Helps throughout pregnancy, as well as labor (and can help relieve PMS in those who are not pregnant!). Can also help increase milk production after baby.
Nettle — Tones the uterus and balances the hormonal system, also high in iron.
Oatstraw — Balances the nervous system, can enhance sexual desire, good source of calcium. Helps increase milk production.
Ginger — Soothing, helps calm morning sickness and nausea (helps nausea in anyone).
Red clover — Calms nerves, tones the uterus, and balances hormones. High in calcium, magnesium, protein, and other vitamins. Excellent for fertility.
Dandelion root — A mild diuretic, can relieve water retention, constipation. Good source of calcium, iron, and potassium. Can help detox after birth too (hormones no longer needed and/or drugs).
Alfalfa — High in vitamin K, trace minerals and chlorophyll. Helps decrease risk of hemorrhage and increase milk supply.
Lavender oil — Can help promote relaxation.
There are others, I’m sure, but these are the most common and generally most beneficial herbs. In fact, I believe many of these should be taken throughout a woman’s life, as they support general hormonal health. They relieve PMS, help you get pregnant, support healthy pregnancy and birth, normalize hormones after birth, and promote milk supply! Pretty much covers it all.
The best way to take these herbs is as a tea. Simply mix the dried herbs together (roughly equal amounts of each, or whatever proportion your midwife calls for) and add about one ounce of herbs to one quart of boiling water; steep overnight and drink throughout the day. You can add honey or fruit juice to make it more palatable if desired.
Herbs which should not be used in pregnancy:
Black/blue cohosh — Can cause contractions/labor. (Safe for use at term, but talk to your doctor.)
Aloe vera — If taken internally, stimulates contractions.
Licorice — Hormonal implications.
Vitex — Hormonal issues, can cause miscarriage (some say it is safe in the first trimester).
Yarrow — Can cause vomitting.
Evening primrose oil — Can cause contractions (safe at term).
There are many, many more herbs to avoid, but I don’t think it’s likely that most people would ever use them, so I’m not going to list them here. There are links in the “sources” section below to full lists of herbs not to use, just in case you need it.
Never ever take an herb while pregnant without first researching its uses and safety! It is better safe than sorry. Herbs are potent natural medicines that are not without side effects, and pregnancy is a special time. Herbs which, at other times, may be harmless or beneficial may be harmful in pregnancy, due to their effects on your hormones. If in doubt, stick to only the safe list and consult a midwife or herbalist with any questions.
Do you take any herbs in pregnancy? If so, which ones and why?