Pregnancy

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Finding a good herbalist

The recommendations in this article are entirely suitable for a woman to use themselves but, if there are other issues that need attention and you know that you need further help, there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to support you, there's some suggestions on how you might go about finding such a person here

For a woman who would like more specific information about some particular ways that herbs and other old ways of healing may benefit her in pregnancy, there are some related articles on this site including

Morning sickness - here
Stretch-marks - here
Preparing for childbirth - here
Childbirth - here

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Herbs for pregnancy

Herbal medicines have been used by all cultures throughout history for the simple reason that they help. Certain herbs are renowned at improving the general health of a woman during pregnancy and what can be seen is that, as well as being extremely safe, they share a quality of being exceptionally nourishing.

A combination of herbs in either a tea or a formula can be generally recommended, shown here in the 'Pregnancy Formula & Pregnancy Tea', they can do a great deal to support the internal health of both mother and baby in many regards.

Pregnancy Formula

Raspberry leaf 140mls
Nettle leaf 120mls
Oatstraw 100mls
Alfalfa leaf 100mls
Licorice root 60mls
Ginger root 40mls

We make our own tinctures from organic dried herbs, so it might be important that you understand that the optimal dose range will vary with different preparations made by different companies or practitioners,

The above liquid extracts can be combined into a formula to make 560mls. This will just fit in to a 500ml amber pharm round bottle and is enough to last 8 weeks, approximately two months, if taken at a strong dose 10mls once a day (or 5 mls twice a day if this is preferred for any reason) This is, no doubt, a high dose, but these herbs are extremely safe, the amount of ethanol is completely negligible and these are herbs that need to be taken in robust amounts to bring their actions and ingredients to where they are needed.

Raspberry leaf, Nettles, Oatstraw and Alfalfa are 4 of the most blood, skin, bone and tissue nourishing herbs on the planet. Any pregnant woman will benefit greatly from some or all of them. The Licorice and Ginger are there for their own manifold virtues and to make the mixture easier to take (Licorice) and more easily digested and absorbed into the body (Ginger) If a woman had an aversion to Licorice, or if she had blood pressure that was clearly too high, the Licorice could be well substituted with Peppermint or Chamomile extract. Likewise, if she just did not like Ginger, it could be left out or substituted with Peppermint or Chamomile.

Assuming the woman enjoyed the benefits of this formula and wanted to keep it going, it would be most beneficial to start adding some Mitchella, as a 'pre-parturient tonic' in the last month or two of the pregnancy. More on this herb, and the general subject of preparing for the birth here

This formula should be very easy to take on a daily basis, but it may or may not be difficult to obtain depending on who is supplying herbal extracts in your area. Also, for any other reasons including her personal preferences, a woman might rather make and take a herbal tea, in which case the following combination of herbs will give all the same benefits as the formula


Rubus idaeus (Raspberry leaf)

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Pregnancy Tea

Raspberry leaf - approx 3 grams per cup
Nettle leaf - approx 2-3 grams per cup
Oatstraw - approx 2 grams per cup
Alfalfa leaf - approx 2 grams per cup
Chamomile or Peppermint to taste e.g. 2 grams
Ginger root to taste e.g. 1/2 to 1 gram

The amounts given above are a guide only. 2-3 grams usually equates to about 1 to 2 large heaped tsps of a herb that has been dried from the leaves. Just a quarter to a half tsp of well-cut ginger root would be about 1/2 to 1 gram, even less if using the powdered dry Ginger.

This Pregnancy tea could easily be adapted to individual needs or preferences and if, as often is the case, a woman was very particular about how things tasted in her pregnancy, it might be wise to get the dried herbs separately and then to experiment with using more or less of them until a combination was found that gave the most agreeable flavour.

For example, some women might want much more or less Ginger, if any at all. Some might like to add some Peppermint or, equally, some Chamomile to adapt the flavour of the tea. That said, we all of us usually find that we like things a lot better, or at least find them easier to take, when we get used to having had them a few times.

Whatever the blend, steeping about 5-6 very heaped tsps of these herbs in at least 2 cups of freshly boiled water for a good 10 minutes will extract all their virtues and will make an excellent daily tonic for pregnancy. If the woman enjoyed the tea and wanted to make more than one brew of it a day there would be no possible harm but rather every likelihood of further benefit.


Urtica dioica (Nettle leaf)

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Nutrition & Hydration

There are two areas of diet that are most important for a healthy pregnancy. The first is to stay well hydrated. The body makes a great deal more blood, and other tissues, during pregnancy. If we do not increase our fluid intake accordingly, we can settle into a chronic state of mild dehydration and just not be aware of it as our system becomes accustomed to running dry.

So how do you know how much water (or cups of tea etc.) you have to drink? Listen to your body. If you are able to go more than 2 hours without needing to have a decent 'pee' you are dehydrated. If you are needing to go more than once an hour, you are overdoing it and unnecessarily stressing your kidneys. A good outflow every 1-2 hours is the sweet spot and to get into that zone you will need to vary your fluid intake according to the weather, the humidity and how active you are.

The second area is to make sure you are getting enough proteins and fats. Sugar is essential for energy (though many people eat more than they need in the form of bread, pasta, rice etc.) but protein and fat are most essential for the growth of your baby and the adaptation of your own body to the growth of the pregnancy.

For a host of reasons, a pregnant woman needs to eat foods that contain plenty of healthy fats and proteins. She should, of course, eat what proteins are best to her preferences, so this includes nuts and seeds, eggs, avocados, dairy products, meat, fish and chicken. For anyone who wants to read more on the vital subject of nutrition, click here and there are several articles on some other specific issues related to pregnancy linked again below

Morning sickness - here
Stretch-marks - here
Preparing for childbirth - here
Childbirth - here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd