Herbs for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond
At any stage of early motherhood, from pre-conception to postpartum and beyond, natural herbal medicines can be of great help in looking after yourself and your new arrival. The journey of parenting is long and the world of herbs is vast, so these recommendations are just a glimpse of what herbs can provide for you and your new family. We at the Happy Herb Company hope this article may shed some light and serve as a source of inspiration for holistic family health!
There's a lot of information out there about which herbs to avoid – please consult a healthcare professional if in doubt about any herbal remedy. However there ARE herbs that are perfectly safe to help your body along the way:
Toning – Most health professionals recommend Raspberry Leaf tea in pregnancy after 32 weeks to help prepare the uterus for labour.
Labour - Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Motherwort, Goldenseal, and Raspberry Leaf are some of the herbs most commonly used during labour. However, only use these remedies under the guidance of a trained herbalist, naturopath or midwife.
Postpartum - Motherwort and Raspberry leaf tea are used after labour to help expel the placenta and help the uterus regain its tone. Calendula as a tea or diluted tincture can be used in a sitz bath or wash to help heal any perineal tears. (See below for a sitz bath herb blend recipe). Antispasmodics & uterine tonics such as Black Cohosh, Wild Yam, and Cramp Bark can assist with after pains, as the uterus contracts to its pre-pregnancy size.
Increasing milk supply – Many herbs have ancient reputations for assisting new mothers increase their milk flow including Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Aniseed, Fennel seed, Goat’s Rue and Chaste Tree Berry. (See below for a Nursing Tea recipe)
Colic – The breastfeeding mother can drink Fennel or Aniseed tea to help settle the baby’s digestion and help relieve gas.
Engorged breasts – A classic remedy is to place green cabbage leaves around the breasts. Sage tea can help reduce milk supply (usually only used in cases of over-supply or when weaning).
Nappy rash – Chickweed, Comfrey & Calendula creams are great natural remedies for nappy rash and cradle cap. (See below for a Baby Bum Balm recipe)
Colic, Fevers & Sleep Problems – Catnip, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Fennel and Spearmint are safe to give young children as dilute herbal teas. Try 1 tsp for children under 1 year, and up to 2 Tbsp for children 1 - 3 years.
Bumps, Scrapes and Burns – Great remedies to always have on hand in your herbal medicine kit include Calendula and Arnica cream, Aloe Vera gel, Tea tree oil and Dragon's Blood as an antiseptic liquid bandage.
Here are some recipes for you to use during pregnancy, birth and beyond to help smooth the journey with some much needed herbal help!
This is a great tea to enjoy in the second & third trimesters to tone & prepare the uterus for birth, and to provide vitamins and minerals. (Some health professionals recommend only using Red Raspberry after 32 weeks, consult your midwife).
4 cups Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
1 cup Nettle Leaf
1/2 cup Alfalfa Leaf (optional)
1/2 cup Dandelion Leaf (optional)
1/2 cup Stevia Leaf
Blend herbs and store in an airtight container. To make tea use 1 Tablespoon per cup of boiling water, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy an easy birth!
Postpartum Soothing Sitz Bath Blend
This recipe is great to prepare before birth (or give to a pregnant or brand new mother) to have on hand immediately after birth for healing the perineum area.
1/2 cup Comfrey Leaf (or Plantain Leaf)
1/2 cup Calendula Petals
1/2 cup Chamomile Flowers
1/2 cup Yarrow Flowers or Leaves
1/2 cup Lavender Flower
1/2 cup Rosemary Leaves
1/2 cup Raspberry Leaves
1/2 cup Uva Ursi Leaves
2 cups Sea Salt or Epsom Salt
Combine all ingredient in a bowl, mix well, and store in a glass jar. To use: make a strong tea with 1 litre of boiling water poured over 1/2 cup of blend. Let steep 20 minutes, then strain & add this tea to sitz bath. Or put 1/2 cup of herbs in a nylon strainer bag (nut milk bag) and place directly in sitz bath.
Another option you could try is our Healing Yoni Steam, which you can use as a healing steam, or use it a sitz bath blend as above (you could also add some salt to the bath).
After Birth Soothing Spray
This spray is for soothing the perineal area after birth, and assisting healing of any tears or stitches.
1/4 cup witch hazel
1/8 cup aloe vera
10 drops Lavender essential oil
3 drops Clary Sage essential oil
1/8 cup + 1 Tablespoon distilled water
Combine all ingredients in a glass spray bottle, shake well to blend. Spray on perineal area as needed (good to use after urinating).
Baby Bum Balm
The balm is helpful for preventing and treating nappy rash, and soothing sensitive little bums.
10g chamomile or chickweed infused olive oil
10g calendula infused olive oil
20g olive oil
10g zinc oxide
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil (optional)
5 drops Chamomile Essential Oil (optional)
To make the herbal infused oil, simply cover the herbs in olive oil, and either place in a glass jar on a windowsill for 2 weeks, or gently heat in a double boiler (make sure not to overheat!) or a Magic Botanical Extractor (this makes it easy!) for 3 or 4 hours. Strain through a mesh bag, and you have your infused oil.
Combine infused oil, with olive oil & beeswax, in a double boiler, and heat gently until fully melted. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Fill into sterilised glass jars. Use as needed after nappy changes to prevent and treat nappy rash.
Another easier option is our lovely Calendula Magic Cream, which is locally grown, handmade and super effective for everything from cuts & rashes to burns and more!
This tea contains calming and nourishing herbs for mama (& bub), as well as carminative herbs (to reduce baby’s colic & promote healthy digestion), as well as uterine tonic herbs.
1/2 cup Raspberry Leaf
1/2 cup Nettle Leaf
1/4 cup Alfalfa leaf
1/4 cup Chamomile
1/4 cup Fennel
1/4 cup Aniseed
1/2 cup Fenugreek - optional, use only if you need to increase your milk supply.
Blend all herbs together and store in a glass jar. Use 2 tsp of herbal blend per cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
NOTE: This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Please consult a healthcare professional if in doubt about which natural medicines are right for you.
David Hoffmann (2003), Medical Herbalism;
Isabel Shipard (2007), How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life.