It must be Labor Day that has me thinking about pregnancy and childbirth. Go figure!
Fortunately I delivered five healthy full-term babies without any complications and without using any pain-numbing drugs either. I attribute most of that to a Higher Power.
But I must also give credit where it is due. My wonderful midwife, Valeriana Pasqua-Masback, tells all her pregnant mamas to supplement their changing and growing bodies with specific herbs and vitamins.
Without a doubt, the herbs I took throughout pregnancy helped prepare, tone, and strengthen my body for labor, delivery, and repairing my body after birth.
As Herbalist Susan Weed says here:
During pregnancy nutrients are required to create the cells needed to form two extra pounds of uterine muscle, the nerves, bones, organs, muscles, glands and skin of the fetus, several pounds of amniotic fluid, a placenta and a 50 percent increase in blood volume. In addition, extra kidney and liver cells are needed to process the waste of’ two beings instead of one.
For each of my pregnancies, I drank an herbal tea made from a blend of red raspberry leaves and nettles. This blend contains so many vital nutrients that support and nourish the woman and the evolving fetus. When I delivered the placenta after one of my births, it was actually shaped in the form of a ripe red heart!
How to Prepare the Tea
I bought the certified organic loose herbs online, prepared a quart-sized infusion in the morning using about a heaping ¼ cup of each of the herbs, and then sipped it throughout the day.
Using a special tea making pitcher with infuser simplifies straining and also provides the container for storing.
If it is hard to buy the loose herbs, you can also buy Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea and drink four cups a day.
Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaves*
Red raspberry leaves offer a nourishing source of vitamins and minerals that strengthen and tone the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. It also provides a rich concentration of vitamin C, the presence of vitamin E, and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. In addition, raspberry leaves contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorous and potassium.
The benefits of drinking a raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy include:
- ~ Increasing fertility in both men and women. Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Red Clover.
- ~ Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.
- ~ Easing of morning sickness. Many attest to raspberry leaves’ gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy.
- ~ Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery, Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery. It does not, however, counter the pain of pelvic dilation.
- ~ Assisting in the production of plentiful breast milk. The high mineral content of Raspberry leaf assist in milk production, but its astringency may counter that for some women.
- ~ Providing a safe and speedy delivery. Raspberry leaf works to encourage the uterus to let go and function without tension. It does not strengthen contractions, but does allow the contracting uterus to work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster.
Benefits of Nettles*
Nettles are one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known that are necessary for human health and growth.
Vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur are particularly abundant in nettles. The infusion is a dark green color approaching black. The taste is deep and rich.
Some pregnant women alternate weeks of nettle and raspberry brews; others drink raspberry until the last month and then switch to nettles to insure large amounts of vitamin K in the blood before birth. [Personally, I drank both throughout my pregnancies.]
The benefits of drinking nettle infusion before and throughout pregnancy include:
- ~ Aiding the kidneys. Nettle infusions were instrumental in rebuilding the kidneys of a woman who was told she would have to be put on a dialysis machine. Since the kidneys must cleanse 150 percent of the normal blood supply for most of the pregnancy, nettle’s ability to nourish and strengthen them is of major importance. Any accumulation of minerals in the kidneys, such as gravel or stones, is gently loosened, dissolved, and eliminated by the consistent use of nettle infusions.
- ~ Increasing fertility in women and men.
- ~ Nourishing mother and fetus.
- ~ Easing leg cramps and other spasms.
- ~ Diminishing pain during and after birth. The high calcium content, which is readily assimilated, helps diminish muscle pains in the uterus, in the legs and elsewhere.
- ~ Preventing hemorrhage after birth. Nettle is a superb source of vitamin K, and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage. Fresh Nettle Juice, in teaspoon doses, slows postpartum bleeding.
- ~ Reducing hemorrhoids. Nettle’s mild astringency and general nourishing action tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity and improves venous resilience.
- ~ Increasing the richness and amount of breast milk.
My Highly Recommended Protocol (for a normal pregnancy)
Prenatals: Finding a quality prenatal vitamin is not easy but essential. A prenatal supplement increases the dosage of nutrients that are vital for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and even infertility issues, such as folic acid, calcium, Vitamin K, and iron.
The body can not absorb most vitamins because of the delivery method and because they’re often derived from synthetic sources. Most professionals recommend taking vitamins from whole food sources like MegaFood and New Chapter, or that have a well-researched delivery system such as Melaleuca’s Prenatal Pack with Omega 3s.
Iron: To support the need for extra iron during pregnancy, Valeriana recommends Floradix Liquid Iron + Herbs, because it is highly absorbed by the body and won’t cause constipation. The formula also contains B vitamins which are great for balancing the mood.
Though I often tested as borderline anemic, my numbers never fell below the mark.
Prenatal Omegas: Omega 3’s nourish critical eye and brain development in the growing fetus. The formula should be contaminant-free.
Of course, there are no protocols that are right for each person. Every individual must be evaluated separately. However, by following this easy formula, you will be nourishing your body’s system with the vital nutrients it needs to support a growing infant.
* Pulled nearly verbatim from Susan Weed’s extraordinary article and with humble gratitude to her working knowledge of medicinal herbs.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure. I am merely sharing the supplements that worked well for me.