Herbs for a Healthy Pregnancy by Melanie Gray

Herbs have long been used during pregnancy for promoting nutrition and as a food as well as remedies for many common pregnancy ailments. The optimal time to begin taking herbs is in early pregnancy and they can be enjoyed in teas, infusions, and in tonics. The safest herbs to use are those that are considered food and are non-residual after many days of use. Adding a touch of stevia, some lemon, honey, or agave syrup are great ways to sweeten your herbal teas and make them taste great!

Nourishing Herbs
  • Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)- High in protein, vitamins A, D, E, B6, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, trace minerals, and digestive enzymes. Helps to boost iron and prevent anemia and other vitamin deficiencies.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)- A nontoxic herb that is great for headaches, insomnia, and gas pains. Also useful for allergy relief during pregnancy.
  • Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)- A liver strengthener and a supporting herb for the urinary system. Also contains high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals.
  • Chamomile Flowers (Matricaria chamomilla and related species)- A herb used for a relaxing tea, enjoyed in the bath, as a massage oil, and a remedy for morning sickness when combined with ginger. High in calcium and antiinflammatory substances that help to heal.
  • Dandelion Root and Leaves (Taraxacum officinale)- High in vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium. Acts as a mild diuretic as well as a herb that aids in lowering high blood pressure.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)- Aids in the ease of morning sickness and digestive upsets. Also a wonderful cold, sore throat, and congestion remedy for use during pregnancy.
  • Nettle (Urtica dioica)- Extremely high in the essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy. Also a mild diuretic and aids in the elimination from excess water from the tissues.
  • Red Raspberry Leaves (Rubus ideaus)- The most famous of pregnancy herbs due to the high content of vitamins and minerals, iron, and fragarine, which tones the uterus and pelvic area in preparation for childbirth.
  • Slippery Elm bark (Ulmus rubra and U. fulva)- A nourishing and medicinal herb that can be a nice and safe alternative to cold medications during pregnancy due to it’s soothing effects on the throat. Also very soothing for the stomach and morning sickness.
Herbs to Avoid
  • Herbs that are used during menstruation or promote contractions of the uterus as these could cause a miscarriage like Angelica, Black cohosh, Blue cohosh, Cotton root bark, Motherwort, Pennyroyal Leaf, Yarrow, and Dong quai.
  • Herbs that are high in alkaloids or could potentially be toxic like Tansey, Rue, Pennyroyal oil, and Goldenseal.
  • Any herbs that you are unfamiliar with.
  • Consult with your midwife before taking any herbs to ensure their safety for use during pregnancy.

Places to Find Herbs:

The best places to find quality loose herbs are from reputable sources such as Whole Foods and Co-ops around the Twin Cities. Present Moment in Minneapolis is a fabulous shop full of herbs and very knowledgable herbalists who can direct you in the right direction.

There are also some pregnancy tea herb blends that you can pick up where ever groceries are sold. Some great brands are Traditional Medicinals, Yogi teas, Tazo, and The Good Earth.

Sources:
Gladstar, R. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. New York, NY: Fireside.
Romm, A. (2003). The Natural Pregnancy Book. Berkley, CA: Celestial Arts.

A big thanks to Melanie Gray, TCM’s fabulous student and assistant, for writing this post!

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