Can Herbal Medicines Help During Pregnancy and Childbirth?

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Everything in your body reaches for nurturing during pregnancy and using medicinal herbs carefully can keep you strong during your pregnancy. First, it is recommended that you consult both your doctor and an established herbalist before taking any medicines, natural or synthetic. It is important to remember that even though herbs are natural medicines, they are indeed medicinal and need to be taken with care.”Your body will do what it is supposed to do if you keep yourself healthy. Women are made to give birth, and pregnancy should not be treated as a disease,” said Karyn Sanders, the founder of the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine in Yreka, California.  “If you do need some help with nausea or other symptoms of pregnancy, or if you have a history of miscarriage, herbal medicine—provided by a knowledgeable herbalist—can offer great benefits.”Of course, the first most significant factors in wellness and health during pregnancy are a healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins mixed with moderate exercise like swimming, Tai Chi, or yoga.  If you feel you need additional support, some herbs can be added to your nutritional wellbeing and support you in some of the more critical aspects of pregnancy, like alleviating morning sickness, helping to tone your uterus, and encouraging a safer and more comfortable delivery.

Nettles add a healthy dose of calcium and iron to your diet, and are rich in other nutrients. You can find fresh or dried nettles in health food stores and can also find bags of nettle tea, ready to drop in a hot cup of water.

At the beginning of your pregnancy, drinking ginger tea or using fresh ginger in cooking meals can help to alleviate nausea.  Eating frequent, small meals can also reduce stomachaches.  Or try eating a few crackers before getting out of bed. That can prevent the waves of nausea that can be most pronounced in the morning.

Raspberry leaf is another good herb during pregnancy. It tones the uterus and can be used at any stage of pregnancy, and even after birth to increase milk production during breast-feeding. It is rich in iron and helps with nausea and in preventing a miscarriage. It can also even out labor pains during delivery. Some herbalists avoid raspberry leaf at certain stages of pregnancy, so be sure to consult your herbalist for his or her opinion before taking this herb.

Some herbs can help to prevent or alleviate colds, flus and other ailments while you are pregnant. Try drinking a tea of rose hips, which is high in vitamin C. You can also use moderate amounts of Echinacea. Cooking with garlic can help reduce your chance of getting sick and can be used in cooking or in teas if you do come down with a cold.

During the last six weeks of pregnancy Sanders gives her clients a blend of partridge berry, black cohosh, and spikenard root.  These herbs help to prepare the baby and uterus for an easier delivery by encouraging the baby to turn and helping to create even contractions.  Making this herbal concoction requires the skill of a knowledgeable, licensed herbalist and should not be taken during other times of pregnancy or without the acceptance of your primary health practitioner.

Remember, you are pregnant, not sick! Your body knows how to be pregnant and to have a baby, so doing what is best for your own body will be best for baby too. Be sure to go to your doctor or clinic for regular check-ups and take a good prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid. After this, consult a knowledgeable herbalist to support your pregnancy and delivery.

If you decide that you want additional help with your pregnancy by taking herbs, always check with your healthcare practitioner and a licensed herbalist before taking any herbal supplements during pregnancy or breast-feeding.