Herbs to ease labor, birth, and recovery
Herbs can be very useful during labor and after birth to ease pain, calm emotions, and help speed recovery. The herbs described below have been use for years by midwives and birthing women.*
- Blue cohosh and black cohosh are two herbs that work synergistically to bring on labor, but do not use them prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy.
- Raspberry leaf (tea or tincture) is one of the best uterine tonic herbs to prepare uterine muscles for an efficient labor. Its astringent action helps slows bleeding and helps to expel the placenta. Have the tea on hand or make raspberry tea ice cubes to suck on during labor. It can also be taken in pregnancy to prepare uterine muscles for pregnancy.
Many herbs can help ease the pain of contractions:
- Crampbark tincture can be used for uterine cramping during labor, and after birth to eliminate after birth cramping pains.
- Scullcap and catnip relieve pain, as well as calm and relax the body.
- Chamomile helps control pain during labor by relieving tension.
Other herbs help with emotional balance during labor:
- Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower remedy, is excellent for bringing one quickly into focus when under stress or shock during a difficult labor. It can also be put on the baby’s forehead or wrist after a stressful birth.
- A massage oil, enhanced with herbs, will relax the muscles and ease back labor pain. You can try Motherlove's Birth & Baby Oil which is made of apricot oil and lavender blossoms. Or, if you prefer to make your own, we suggest using relaxing, aromatic herbs such as chamomile, rose, and lavender. Our Birthy & Baby Oil can be rubbed on the perineum to help prevent tearing as the baby crowns and ease swelling and burning.
- Essential oils in a mister can give clarity and focus. Clary Sage gives a sense of well being and combats mental fatigue. During birth it helps focus breathing and calm anxiety. Geranium essential oil balances emotions and stimulates circulation. Lavender is calming and strengthening, relieving depression and irritability. Citrus essential oils are clean, refreshing and uplifting. Be sure that essential oils are used in a carrier oil or mister and not applied directly to or on the skin.
- Shepherd’s Purse tincture is the best herb to quickly stop postpartum hemorrhaging. Every midwife should have it with her in case an emergency situation arises. (You can read about how Motherlove founder Kathryn Higgins used this herb after her daughter’s birth here.)
- After the birth, we recommend using a sitz bath product such as Sitz Bath Spray or Sitz Bath Soak. These herbs, yarrow, uva ursi, witch hazel, help soothe the sore perineum, can reduce swelling, and help slow bleeding.
- Fill a plastic squirt bottle with a strong herbal tea of these same herbs - or use Motherlove's Sitz Bath Spray - to spritz your perineum as you urinate to lessen any burning and soothe soreness.
- Homeopathic arnica pills, taken every few hours for several days after the birth, help reduce bruising and swelling of the perineal tissue. Be sure you are taking arnica internally only in homeopathic form, as arnica tincture prevents clotting and should not be taken internally.
* This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider for medical advice related to any of these herbs or products.