The wise women who traditionally surrounded a woman during pregnancy, birth, and over the days and weeks that followed knew that Mother Nature has special gifts to offer the childbearing woman. Her leaves, fruits, roots, flowers, and weeds can be used to relax or rebuild a new mother’s depleted body, to help her breasts lactate, and to settle the mind or even to energize her when fatigued. These natural wonders are the ultimate folk medicine—cheap to source and safe to use.
During the first 40 days, reframe the cup of tea from a once-a-day beverage to an all-day affair. Let warm tea be your companion from dawn to dusk (and through to dawn again). Or let it cool to room temperature and sip it from a canteen instead of plain water.
Gathering supplies of herbs, sorting and storing them in Mason jars, and brewing them with boiling water is such an ancient and feminine art. It is an earthy ritual that will move you with its mystery—the wisps of aromatic steam and the sensations in your stomach, or breasts, or mind—even if you are the most urbane type of woman.
As you practice tuning into how your body responds to different brews, you don’t just get the benefits of, say, greater lactation or sweeter sleep. You are developing that intuition, that listening within, that will be your greatest tool as a mother.
Steeping herbs in hot water is the simplest way to experience the healing power of herbs. When a small amount of an herb is steeped for just a few minutes to extract the plant’s beneficial oils, it is a tea, with mild but palpable therapeutic effects. When a large amount is steeped for several hours, it becomes an infusion, more potent and more medicinal in effect. You’ll enjoy these teas’ harmonious flavors and may find infusions to be more intense. Herbalists say that infusing herbs unlocks the minerals, vitamins, and even proteins in the leaves for deeper nourishment of the whole body.
Here's one of my favorite teas to drink postpartum, from my new book, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.