Many women use herbs for food, medicine, and beauty, but when it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding there is another layer of consideration to be taken in to account. These considerations apply not only to the child, but the mother as well.
A pregnant mother has different nutritional requirements than she did prior, to accommodate the growing baby. Extra vitamins and minerals are needed during the crucial time of development to ensure that the baby forms healthy bones, tissues and systems.
Importance of Diet for Mother and Baby
While there is a natural focus on the growing baby, the implications for the mother must not be disregarded. Carrying all that extra weight, along with supporting another human being with its own hormonal system, cardiovascular system, developing brain and body, can be as exhausting as it is exhilarating.
The mother’s body is the sole source of nutrient provision for the developing child; if these nutrients are not supplied from the mother’s diet, some will be scavenged from the mother’s body.
For example, if the diet is lacking in vital bone-forming minerals, the growing baby can inadvertently leech calcium and other vital minerals from her body. This is nature’s way, but if deficiencies are chronic, not only will the baby’s development be compromised, the mother’s long-term health will be also. In this instance, the mother may experience problems with advanced osteoporosis and dental health issues later in life.
It is common for many pregnant women to become anemic during pregnancy due to the extra iron the baby requires during development.
Staying hydrated and making sure folic acid intake, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are adequate, will help to grow a healthier baby and keep the mother stronger and more vibrant herself.
It is vitally important not to confuse quality and quantity at this time. For most people in western societies, lack of something to eat is not often a problem, however, choosing correct foods can be.
Over-eating poor quality foods, especially simple carbohydrate foods will not make up for a lack of essential nutrients. It is very possible (and too common) to be overweight and even develop gestational diabetes, yet still not be consuming proper nutrition for mother or child.
If you are pregnant, and always hungry, include more protein, vegetables and good fat in your diet. This will provide many of the needed nutrients and keep the munchies away.
Herbs are used in pregnancy and breastfeeding for both dietary supplementation and medication. The extent to which they are used will vary among different cultures, and of course on the beliefs and preferences of the mother and her health advisor.
Herbs definitely fall into the quality area; a little provides a lot in the way of nutrient value.
Herbs Helpful During Pregnancy
Here are some herbs that can prove to be helpful during pregnancy.
Herbs Rich in Iron
Oats, Chickweed, Nettles, Horsetail, Dandelion leaves, Yellow Dock and Centaury.
Herbs Rich in Calcium
Sesame seeds, Nettles, Comfrey, Watercress, and Horsetail.
Herbs for Nausea
Ginger is an excellent antidote for nausea and morning sickness. Taking it as a tea or carrying some candied ginger around in your purse or keeping some in the car can help squelch an upset tummy. Chamomile tea is another soothing choice.
Fluid retention or edema can cause great discomfort during pregnancy. Dandelion tea is a readily available and effective diuretic. Dose is half to 1 cup, three times a day. Other herbal diuretics are stinging nettle and rosemary, made into a tea or infusion.
Constipation in Pregnancy
Psyllium seeds provide a nutritious laxative. Take 2 teaspoons to each cup of boiling water and drink 1 cup, 2 to 3 times a day. Senna Pods can help move things along when 5 to 10 pods are allowed to stand overnight in a cup of boiling water.
Add a tiny bit of Ginger in the morning and consume upon waking prior to breakfast. Prunes and figs can also provide relief.
Raspberry Leaf tea taken freely during labor is recommended for its parturient properties.
It can be taken alone or with Ginger, Red Pepper or a composition every 20 minutes to stimulate stronger contractions.
Many women take Raspberry Leaf tea during their last trimester to help strengthen the uterus. Black Cohosh and Blue Cohosh are given to increase weak contractions.
For anyone experiencing or at risk of premature labor, the above-mentioned herbs should be avoided, unless discussed with a doctor first.
To Relax During Prolonged Labor
Lobelia, Feverfew, LadySlipper and Blue Cohosh are used to help an exhausted mother-to-be stay strong yet calm during labor.
Herbs Contraindicated or Not To Be Taken During Pregnancy
These are some herbs not to take whilst pregnant.
Autumn Crocus, Basil, Barberry, Cinnamon, Blood Root, Poke Root, Sage, Mistletoe, Juniper, Thuja, Cotton Root, Goldenseal, Greater Celandine, Southernwood, Marjoram, Coltsfoot, Wormwood, Tansy, Celery Seed and Parsley.
These herbs are considered to be “womb stimulants” and therefore best avoided during pregnancy.
Planning and Care
It is important to discuss any symptoms, fears or concerns with your midwife, doctor or care provider during your pregnancy. Different emotions and physical changes arise as your body is growing to accommodate the baby’s growth.
Women have been naturally delivering babies since the beginning of human history. Letting go of any fears or stresses and learning how to empower yourself will help you enjoy your pregnancy to the fullest and allow a memorable and easier birthing process.
Mental attitude greatly influences both physical and emotional pregnancy results. Visualizing a positive end result and an easy delivery is much healthier than assuming you will need sedation, gas or an epidural within minutes of arriving at the hospital.
The Importance of Relaxation
Along with all the excitement it can be unnerving being pregnant. Many women have a hard time with extreme nausea, especially in the first trimester, as well as feeling exhausted and overwhelmed as the pregnancy develops.
It is important to stay as calm and relaxed as possible since the baby can feel emotions and hear sounds. Staying relaxed during the gestation process helps the glands function correctly and facilitates the ever-important bonding process while the baby is still in the womb.