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Pregnancy issues

General characteristics

General characteristics

Pregnancy is obviously not an ailment but a state of divine fruitfulness!

Sometimes a little help is needed with certain conditions that arise during the pregnancy. Specific conditions such as pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, breast feeding and morning sickness have their own section.

This section will focus on herbs that are safe to use for specific conditions during pregnancy and herbs that should be avoided completely or until the later stages of pregnancy. Also on foods and herbs to increase overall health and promote the growth of a healthy baby and keep the expectant mother in excellent health.

A book I would never be without is 'The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year' by herbal expert and all round font of natural wisdom, Susan Weed. It contains a wealth of information on conceiving, pregnancy, labour and birth, post pregnancy issues and the health of the newborn. I highly recommend it.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

To be in optimum health throughout the pregnancy, eat the best quality whole foods available to you. Organic fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, seeds and wholegrains contain the maximum nutrition available without the potentially harmful effects of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers.

If you eat meat go for organic fresh meat products and wild caught fish as non-organic animal products contain so many additives such as hormones, antibiotics and other medications.

Try to eat between 80-120g of protein daily (spread throughout the day) to help prevent pre-eclampsia and provide the building blocks of growth and development for your baby. This could mean 1 egg (about 6g), a chicken/turkey and cheese wholemeal bread sandwich (about 20g), glass of full fat milk (about 10g) average portion of meat (around 20g) with legumes, beans and nuts and seeds also providing good amounts.

Avoid processed meat and animal products such as salami as they usually contain nitrates as preservatives.

Useful calcium sources include tahini spread and sesame seeds, fresh carrots and carrot juice, green salad leaves, live yoghurt and dairy.

Keep refined and processed carbohydrates and sugary foods to a minimum.

Drink plenty of fluids in the form of water, fresh juices and herbal teas and avoid fizzy drinks (they leach calcium from the bones), caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

Ensure you are getting enough fibre to avoid constipation. A bowl of homemade muesli containing oats, grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits will prevent constipation and give many helpful nutrients.


Useful herbs

Useful Herbs

It is difficult to recommend a list of safe and unsafe herbs as no two women or pregnancies are the same but generally it is best to assume that most medicinal herbs (apart from those mentioned below) should be avoided as they can be too forceful, some downright dangerous, during pregnancy.

Always tell your midwife or doctor if you decide to use herbs during your pregnancy.

Nettle leaf tea can be drunk throughout pregnancy for its high iron, calcium and vitamin content. it will also reduce water retention and help the kidneys function well.

Combine your nettle with oatstraw for added benefits and nutrition.

Raspberry leaf tea contains many useful nutrients and ripens the uterus, helping to ensure that the contractions of labour are smooth and efficient. Many will say that raspberry leaf should be avoided until the last trimester, others say it is safe from the second trimester onwards. Personally, I drank raspberry leaf tea throughout the entirety of both of my pregnancies and had relatively quick labors (6 hours on the 1st and 2 hours on the 2nd) with strong and effective contractions. If you are nervous or unsure, start gently with one cup every other day or less and build up to up to 3 cups daily when you feel you can or towards the later stages of pregnancy.

Chamomile tea can be taken to help relieve stress and promote a feeling of relaxation.

Dandelion leaf tea is rich in folic acid, eliminates water retention and can help prevent and treat pre-eclampsia also. Take a cup daily or eat a small salad including the freshly picked leaves every few days.

Use 0.5 ml of yellow dock tincture daily for a boost of iron or to ease constipation.

Slippery elm powder can ease heartburn which sometimes occurs later during pregnancy. Take a teaspoonful mixed to a paste with water to ease the symptoms.

During the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, the following formula can be taken to help increase the tone of the reproductive area and prime the whole area for an efficient natural birthing experience. It will encourage strength and elasticity in the muscles and structures in the pelvic region. This 'labour tincture', based on the recipe concocted by the great American herbalist Dr Christopher, contains equal parts (eg. 50ml of each) of the tinctures of squaw vine, black cohosh, holy thistle, pennyroyal, false unicorn, raspberry leaf and lobelia. Take 1 teaspoon per day of the formula 6 weeks before your due date and continue on this for the week. The following week increase to 2 teaspoons daily and the next week take 3 teaspoons daily. Continue with 3 times daily until labour begins. I used this formula during the last 6 weeks of both of my pregnancies and although both boys were two weeks later than their due dates, they came swiftly and easily when they finally decided to come. Both of my babies were born into water, no painkillers either time. Be sure to tell your midwife or doctor if you decide to take this formula.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Relax whenever you can with a warm bath, soothing music, your favourite book or film or good company.

Avoid using harsh cleaning chemical or exposure to other environmental toxins wherever possible, even toiletries and make up products should be scrutinised for harmful ingredients.

Avoid taking supplements unless directed to by your health carers. Excessive vitamins and other nutrients can be harmful to the baby.

Take regular moderate exercise to keep the body toned, energy levels up and help steady the emotions.


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