Herbs for All Stages of Pregnancy
We go to herbs to boost our fertility, so why not rely on them throughout pregnancy? I know there’s a lot of caution out there about taking anything while you’re pregnant—from herbs to food to prescription drugs. As a general rule of thumb, this caution is good. Always check the safety of a product before you take it.
However, also keep in mind that there is a lot of mainstream over-caution around herbs and pregnancy. Women have been taking herbs to ease morning sickness, protect and ease skin as it stretches, and to facilitate birth for, well, forever (more or less...).
But—you are the one responsible for your own health. Do your research; talk to your midwife, doula, or herbalist (one who knows you and your medical history) before starting on any new regime.
Here are some herbs to take throughout pregnancy:
Herbs to soothe morning sickness & nausea
Ah, the seemingly inevitable morning sickness… Nausea is usually due to hormonal fluctuations, low blood sugar, and nutrition needs. To ease the discomfort and to help support the liver and the hormonal system, try any or all of the following: meadowsweet, dandelion root, fennel seed, and/or chamomile.
These herbs can be combined in a tea to sip on when nausea sets in. Take a quart jar and combine one tablespoon of each herb. Pour boiling water over the herbs, stir and steep for fifteen minutes. Strain. You can store this jar in the fridge—just drink it within a few days.
You can also try capsules of the above herbs, trying one at a time to see if one is more effective for you. Warm ginger root tea can also help. It doesn’t work for everyone, so try it and see if it works for you. If not, discontinue use. Also try eating easily digested food such as yogurt, miso soup, barley, slippery elm bark powder, and rice.
Herbs for general health & nutrition during pregnancy
For general health, nutrition, and balance throughout pregnancy, you can drink 3 to 4 cups of a tea containing red raspberry leaves, alfalfa, nettle, and red clover.
Exhausted? Eat nourishing foods and rest. Drink dandelion root tea or nettle tea (or tincture) 2-3x per day.
Herbs for the skin
To avoid stretch marks and uncomfortable itching as the baby (and the belly) grows, try a body oil such as the following:
- ½ cup cocoa butter
- ½ cup coconut oil
- one capsule of vitamin E oil (puncture with a pin and squeeze the oil out)
- 2 tsp grated beeswax
- 1 tsp lanolin
- ¼ cup apricot, almond, or grapeseed oil
Warm the ingredients slowly in a small saucepan until the beeswax has melted. Pour into a clean container and let cool. Rub this mixture on your belly and breasts two to three times per day throughout pregnancy. You can also add essential oils, if you like. Safe choices include chamomile, geranium, lavender, rose, and sandalwood. You can also buy commercial belly oils but, if you have time, making your own is much more satisfying.
Herbs for labor support
St. John’s Wort oil is wonderfully healing and if rubbed on the perineum, prevents tearing during delivery. You can start to use this oil in the last month of pregnancy. Use it post-delivery to heal tearing.
During labor, motherwort can be used every hour as a tea or tincture to calm and relax the body. red raspberry tea/tincture/or ice chips help move labor along (especially if you’ve been drinking red raspberry tea throughout your pregnancy).
You can also try flower essences. Rescue Remedy can be taken under the tongue as needed for anxiety, stress, and fear (in fact, it’s good throughout pregnancy). Once the baby is born, place a few drops of RR on the top of her head; this helps ease her journey into the world.
Blue Cohosh reduces childbirth pains and aids in a quicker delivery. Because it prepares the uterus for expelling the baby, be sure that you use this ONLY in the last month of pregnancy. Try 15 to 30 drops of tincture, 3 times a day.
After labor, try the homeopathic, arnica (30c & 200c) to heal the body and restore mental and physical energy.
Herbs to avoid while pregnant
Of course, we can’t just go herb-crazy here! There are some herbs you should avoid while pregnant. Here’s a list of the most common:
- Passion Flower (probably safe, but the jury is still out on this one)
- Black/Blue Cohosh (Safe and medicinal in the last month of pregnancy)
- Oregon Grape
Herbs can help ease the transition into pregnancy as well as the one into motherhood. Embrace these natural remedies and allow yourself to be reassured that you’re doing the best for your body, mind, spirit, and baby.
Amy Jirsa, LMT, is a master herbalist, E-RYT 500 yoga teacher, forager, and writer from Maine. She is the author of Herbal Goddess: Discover the Amazing Spirit of 12 Healing Herbs with Teas, Potions, Salves, Food, Yoga, and More and the founder of Quiet Earth Yoga.