Access to herbs and herbal information as it relates to holistic healing is available to anyone these days. A quick google search on an herb or ailment and you can begin to self diagnose and treat as soon as you get to a local health food store or market. And while this access to information is helpful, the role of an herbalist can not be be overlooked, especially in pregnancy.
Herbalists are trained to not only hear the concerns of a client, but to look at the client as an individual, and to assist them in bringing them comfort. There have been times where clients have asked me for an herb to assist them, but they were advised to leave empty handed of herbs, with a suggestion to take a nap or midday bath. Especially when working with a pregnant or postpartum mom, less is always more. The body has a wonderful way of producing balance on it’s own, if given the time, patience and nourishment.
But what if you have a discomfort during pregnancy or postpartum that can benefit from an herb? Is it safe for the baby? Are you nursing? Which trimester? What if you are on medication? Are there side effects? How do you take the herb or formula of herbs? These are all things you must ask an herbalist before moving forward. In the meantime, let's cover some of the basics.
Here are the most common ways of receiving the herb(s).
Infusion: An infusion is what you think of as tea. Immersing the herb (roots, stems, leaves, barks, petals, fruits) in boiling water for a prescribed period of time. Infusions should taste good. Herbalists work on balancing out the herbs for the client, making sure they enjoy every sip.
Baths: Yes, think of your bath as a very big infusion for your entire body. Filling a nylon sock or cheese cloth with herbs, placing it in the bath with the hot water and then immersing your body.
Tinctures: These are usually alcohol extracts (sometimes glycerin). Convenient because a few drops mixed with an ounce of water and you have the herb in you (the alcohol evaporates) and you won’t have to be woken up more than you already do to run to the bathroom or feed a baby through the night.
Essential Oils: Many women find benefits in essential oils. Knowing the appropriate oils and how to use them is important.
Remember, herbs can help with the following common discomforts of pregnancy and postpartum:
Insomnia, Lactation, Headaches, Anxiety, Nourishment, Morning Sickness, Fatigue, Anemia, Water Retention, Constipation, Varicose Veins, UTI’s, Hemorrhoids, Adaptation and Overall Wellbeing. To find the right herb for each method of receiving it, make sure to check with an Herbalist in your area.
Debbie Moskowitz is a Certified Herbalist in Herbal Medicine for Women, studying with Aviva Romm, M.D. She is a Mom of four, 13 year old twins, an eight and five year old. She has assisted births, both hospital and at home, and works with women from 12 years old through menopause. She meets with clients both locally and long distance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.