Pregnancy is a time to pamper and care for your body and the child growing within, and many herbs can be helpful in dealing with your body's changes. In the months leading up to your childbirth, as you meet with a doctor, midwife, herbalist, or naturopath, it is always a good idea to check first before trying anything new—especially if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy (preeclampsia, placenta provera, and so on). That said, there are several herbs that are known for their safety and their beneficial qualities for expectant mothers.
"The herbs traditionally used by pregnant women for centuries are food herbs," says Rosemary Gladstar in her book Herbal Healing for Women. The herbs listed below are often suggested by herbalist and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors alike for their powerful properties. "These herbs can be taken throughout pregnancy," say Jorgen G. Jensen, M.S., LAC, a practicing Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist in Walnut Creek, California. "They are all neutral tonics, and supportive of pregnancy."
Herbs for Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery
Blue Cohosh (Canophyllum Thalictroides)
Blue Cohosh contains powerful qualities for reducing child birth pains and aiding in a quick and painless delivery. An herb used widely by Native Americans, it is also popular for treating menstrual cramps. Because of its emmenagogue properties (inducing or hastening menstrual flow), blue cohosh should not be used until the last month of pregnancy.
Dosage: Since the cohoshes are not soluble in water, prepare a tincture by mixing four ounces of root powder per pint of alcohol. Administer in doses of fifteen to thirty drops, three times daily.
Catnip Leaf (Nepata cataria)
Most people think of catnip as the herb so many felines enjoy batting around in little balls, but catnip is also helpful for alleviating nervous energy and calming pent-up emotions. Its sedative qualities can also ease insomnia, birth anxiety, and nausea.
Dosage: Mix one-half ounce of the loose herb with one pint boiled water and steep for 20 minutes. Administer as needed.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
A favorite among garden herbs, chamomile's use in medicine traces back to the ancient Egyptians. This soothing herb suppresses the symptoms of morning sickness, indigestion, and gas. It is high in calcium and potassium—making it a good tonic for the nervous system. It is also useful in treating insomnia and lifting the spirits, and it is gentle enough to give to babies suffering from colic or teething.
Dosage: Mix one ounce of flowers with one pint of boiling water and steep for 20 minutes. Take tablespoon dosages of the decoction as often as desired. Prepare your tea in a covered container.