Herbalism and Pregnancy
With all the new changes that come during pregnancy, it can be hard to know what the right choices are for your body. So many things that you did before you were pregnant suddenly are off-limits, or you have to do in moderation. Pregnancy can come with a lot of questions, and we’re here to answer as many of them as possible. Especially when it comes to what is and isn’t ok to consume while pregnant.
Plants and herbs are the oldest medicines in the world. People have been using them for all sorts of ailments, fixes, and cures since the beginning of time. Many modern pharmaceuticals are even sourced from plant compounds and structures! Herbs are powerful medicine, but you also need to know how to use them wisely – especially while pregnant. We’ve got some tips on how to use herbal medicine while pregnant.
The Benefits of Herbs While Pregnant
You may not realize it, but plants really pack a punch when it comes to benefits. There are so many reasons that pregnant people turn to herbs. Here are just a few of them:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increasing milk production
- Easing labor pains and toning the uterus
- Reducing morning sickness
- Decreasing gas
The Best Herbs to Take While Pregnant
Herbs are a great option for healing common ailments while pregnant and preparing the body for birth and labor. We’ve got some of the best herbs to take while pregnant.
- Ginger for stomach and nausea.
- Cranberry for preventing UTIs, which can be more common during pregnancy.
- Chamomile. This gentle flower is great for promoting relaxation and sleep.
- Red raspberry leaf: Helps tone the uterus and prepare the body for birth.
- Echinacea: Safe for pregnancy and great at boosting the immune system and helping ease symptoms of the common cold and other bugs.
- Calendula: Great used topically infused in oil (like coconut or olive oil). Used as a massage oil it can help prevent stretch marks.
- Nettle: Great for energy and high in vitamins A, B, C, D, K, as well as iron, a vital mineral.
Most culinary herbs are safe in small quantities while pregnant.
Herbs to Avoid While Pregnant
Although herbs are natural, not all of them are created equal. There are many herbs that are not safe to take while pregnant. It’s important to know what herbs to avoid, like these:
- St. John’s Wort
- Black cohosh
- Any kind of ginseng
- Cramp Bark
Many herbs that people use to regulate their periods like blue cohosh and mugwort are not recommended to take while pregnant. Some of these herbs create movement in the uterus which can benefit people who are menstruating but could potentially harm the baby during pregnancy.
The Best Way to Ingest Herbs While Pregnant
The general rule of thumb, if you’re using herbs while pregnant, is to wait until after the first trimester. Even then, only use herbs that are scientifically proven to be safe for pregnant people.
How you consume herbs while pregnant depends on the herb itself, whether it’s dried or fresh, and what you’re using it for. If you’re working with a professional herbalist they’ll be able to tell you the best way to ingest it.
Here are some ways you can ingest herbs while pregnant:
- Tea: Medicinal teas brewed with herbs can be a great way to start your day, ease stress, and stay hydrated. Iced tea is always an option too!
- Tinctures: Tinctures are concentrated medicines made from preserving herbs in alcohol or glycerin. Since you want to avoid alcohol while pregnant, be sure to look for tinctures that are preserved in glycerin.
- Topical: Many herbs can be used topically to treat aches and pains, as well as prevent stretch marks.
- Powder: Herbs that are dried and pulverized turn into a powder. These can then be mixed into hot liquid as a drink or encapsulated to take as pills.
If you’re hoping to regularly use certain herbs while pregnant, be sure to opt for the method that is most convenient for you. Tea is lovely, but if you know you’re going to forget to drink it all the time, then an easy pill may be the better option for you.
Trust Your Body and Ask an Expert
We’re all for trusting your intuition as much as possible. But when it comes to pregnancy, it usually helps to have an extra opinion before trying something new, especially if it’s a medication or herb, even if it’s all-natural. If you’re unsure about whether or not a certain herb is right for you during pregnancy, please ask a healthcare professional. Your OB/GYN is a great place to start, but it can also be helpful to go to someone who specializes in herbal medicine like an herbalist, acupuncturist, or naturopathic doctor. When in doubt, wait to take any herb before consulting a professional.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.