Herbs to support your pregnancy
July 17, 2012
Several herbs used safely used by women for generations are an excellent source for the increased vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy, and to prepare your the uterus for labor.
These herbs can easily be made into teas and incorporated into meals on a regular basis. Every person is different, and your body may react differently now to foods than it did previously, but used wisely and in moderation, these herbs make wonderful teas and foods.
- Raspberry leaf is best known for strengthening the uterine muscles so they work more efficiently during labor. Drink raspberry leaf tea, with its easily assimilated content of calcium and magnesium, to relieve leg cramps. Also high in iron, the leaves and berries help prevent anemia. Raspberry leaf soothes an upset stomach and will help alleviate mild morning sickness. Taken after birth, it slows bleeding, helps the uterus regain tone, and increases breast milk production.
- Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with high iron and calcium contents, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. Because nettle also supports the vascular system, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Postpartum, it increases breast milk production. Nettle tea has a rich, green taste and can be mixed with other herbs. Cooked nettle is a mineral-rich substitute for spinach and an excellent side dish with a dash of lemon juice and sesame seeds. Try substituting nettle in lasagna. Pick it fresh from spring until mid summer, but be sure to wear gloves to protect your skin. Its nickname is “stinging nettle,” but this sting disappears when cooked. Pick extra to freeze and have on hand for the winter months.
- Oats, another herb high in calcium and magnesium, builds healthy bones and nourishes the nervous system. This is the perfect herb to relieve nervous exhaustion and allow for relaxed rest when sleep is difficult. An easy way to incorporate the healing power of oats, and its high fiber content, is to eat oatmeal cereal in the morning, along with oatmeal bread. Oatstraw tea has a mild flavor that can be used alone or mixed with other herbs. And a warm oatmeal bath is not only relaxing, it softens skin and relieves the itch of a growing belly.
- Dandelion root tea increases digestion and promotes bile to relieve constipation. It is one of the best herbs for cleansing and strengthening the liver, our main detoxifying organ. The liver breaks down hormones no longer needed by the body after birth, and any drugs that may have been given at birth. Containing calcium and iron, roasted dandelion root’s coffee-like flavor, is an excellent morning beverage. Add a handful of the fresh leaves, high in vitamin A, to other greens in salads. Drink dandelion leaf tea if a diuretic is needed to relieve fluid retention. Because of its high potassium content, it does not deplete the body of this important mineral, as other diuretics are known to do.
- Alfalfa, with its deep root system, contains many essential nutrients including trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging. Alfalfa also increases breast milk production - alfalfa hay is fed daily to milking goats and other dairy animals!
These common herbs are available in most natural health food stores and are well-worth using for their nutritionally-packed support during these special months.
This information is provided for educational, and not medical, purposes. Consult your health care provider for advice tailored to your needs.