Herbs and Nutrition in Pregnancy and Childbirth

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We must always use extreme caution when administering herbal medicines in pregnancy, as there are many herbs that are contra-indicated at that time. However, many herbs can be used for treating most ailments in the pregnant woman without any problems, and there are the herbs that are beneficial for pregnancy and childbirth.

Prior to becoming pregnant - preconception care

This is a time where nutrition is overlooked and is really very important. Protein intake should be adequate, use beans and peas, almonds and cashews, eggs, fish and tofu. Also use an essential fatty acids (EFA’s) supplement like Flaxseed oil or Udo’s Ultimate Oil Blend (Take 1 tablespoon of the oil daily with meals), make sure to get a recommended brand as this oil is very fragile and if not processed properly can be toxic. Take EFA’s before pregnancy so that you can build up your stores, during pregnancy it is essential for overall fetal development, especially the brain and nervous system. Supplement with a good pre-natal multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that has 800mcg of folic acid. additional zinc (25mg) should be taken on an empty stomach away from meals (by itself) for 3 months.

For most people a good detoxification program is recommended as a first step in pre-conception care. You will need to get professional advice on this process.

Morning sickness

The herbs used for morning sickness are – ginger in the first instance, and the raw ginger can be grated and boiling water poured on it for 10 minutes. If ginger does not work we usually use Black Horehound which works better in stubborn cases.

Uterine tonics

A number of uterine tonics exist which strengthen the uterus and some are specific for pregnancy, like Red Raspberry and Squaw Vine.  Red Raspberry should be started at the beginning of the last trimester and taken increasingly up until the birth, while Squaw Vine is to be used in the last three weeks of pregnancy.  These herbs make labour shorter and easier, as the strengthened uterine muscles are able to work more efficiently to squeeze the baby out.

There are other uterine tonics that work for prolapsed uterus, for abnormal uterine bleeding and for threatened miscarriage.

Hypertension and edema

For hypertension, Hawthorn can be used, but if the problem persists check with your doctor as this can be a serious situation.  For fluid retention one can safely use Bilberry.

Laxatives

This is the category where we need to be cautious. Stimulating laxatives like Senna and Cascara Sagrada should be avoided. If there is a problem with constipation during pregnancy, one should first increase water intake, increase consumption of fruit and vegetables and then use more grain fiber. Fresh Flaxseed oil is also very effective.

Milk production

Once mother’s nutrition is adequate she should produce enough milk. Make sure to maintain good nutrition and to take your essential fatty acids during this time as it makes the breast milk much more nutritious for the baby.  If there is a problem after birth then Nettles and Vervine can be used to increase the supply. The infant should be given only breast milk for the first 6 months, there are many myths about breast feeding and a great deal of ‘wrong’ information out there, for help or advice about breast feeding you can contact The Informative Breastfeeding Service (TIBS) – tibstt.org.

If you want to prepare for pregnancy or treat yourself naturally, during pregnancy it is best advised that you seek professional advice as herbs and  vitamins (in large doses) may be contra-indicated in pregnancy.