Herbs and Pregnancy

Herbs are a part of every day life for many of us. From the basil in the marinara to infusions, tinctures and teas, herbs have many uses and many forms. I am often asked about the safety of herbs in pregnancy. There are many herbs, that while considered safe in pregnancy, consulting a certified herbalist is still recommended due to the many multi-faceted uses of most herbs. Just today, there was a discussion in a mother's group I am a part of about Red Raspberry Leaf. One person mentioned it was a uterine tonic; another mentioned it was a hormone balancer. It's both! This is the beauty of herbs. They are multi-functional. 

Below are my top 5 herbs for use in pregnancy. Remember to consult your provider about your own health care needs when choosing an herbal regime. 

1. Red Raspberry Leaf-

This herb is such a great herb for women in all aspects of life. From the young girl, just starting her cycles to the women who is going through menopause, RRL has an amazing ability to adapt to our body's needs. 

Raspberry leaves are the most famous of all the herbs used during pregnancy. They have both relaxing and toning, or astringent, actions, with a particular affinity for the uterus. Throughout history, RRL has been used to speed up birth and to stimulate lactation after birth. 

GRAS, no contraindications or side effects Starting in the 2nd trimester, take one cup of infusion daily, increasing to 3 cups daily in the 3rd trimester. While in labor, take a cupful every hour. Continue with this mixture after birth, 1-3 times daily, to tone and strengthen the pelvic tissues. 

2. Chamomile- 

A gentle herb, considered very safe, is great at relieving stress and tension. Great for babies and children. Chamomile is served in hospitals throughout Europe to calm and relax patients. Great for stomach tension, indigestion and inflammation. It is easily cultivated and beautiful in the gardenCommonly used for stress, digestive complaints, nervous disorders, inflammation in the joints, and for wounds. It is an excellent remedy for all manners of women’s disorders. 

There are many uses for chamomile including thrush treatment, fever reducer, relieves tension and spasms in the digestive tract, relieves nausea and sickness in pregnancy, relieves painful periods, mastitis treatment, premenstrual headaches, eases the pain of childbirth, used as a pain reliever, used for asthma and hay fever, used externally for eczema and to heals wounds. 

For medicinal purposes, try C. recuitita. Some people can experience an allergic reaction to chamomile since it is in the compositae family. Anyone who suffers from pollen-bearing plant allergies, should use with caution. Chamomile is exceptionally volatile and should not infuse for more than 30 minutes. 

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3. Nettle- 

Common name is stinging nettle. Nettles usefulness can be traced back to antiquity and its popularity as food and medicine has hardly waned over the years. Nettles were used in ancient Greece and Rome to treat gout, rheumatism, and poisonous snake and insect bites. The tough stalk fibers were used as fabric. Steamed young nettle tops serves with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of feta make a delicious dish according to Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist. Native American women used nettle as a tonic during pregnancy and as a remedy for treating postpartum hemorrhaging. 

When taken over a long period of time, nettles are a tonic that will benefit the entire body. It’s ideal for anemia. Sprinkling the powder on a wound helps it stop bleeding.  Tea is useful for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis and cystitis, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, chronic arthritic and rheumatic problems. 

When tea is drunk during pregnancy, it helps lower high blood pressure. Drink several cups of infusion during labor to help prevent hemorrhage due to the high Vitamin K content. Nettles help with varicosities, kidney issues, encourages rich, abundant milk postpartum, are excellent for young women starting their cycles and for women in menopause. 

4. Dandelion-

Also known as Lion’s teeth and fairy dock. The whole plant can be used as medicine and is highly nutritious. Roots are best harvested in the early spring and late autumn. Leaves should be picked when young in the spring and early summer. Dandelion is most famous for a gently detoxifying bitter tonic. Dandelion has high estrogen properties and is used for a lot of female issues. 

Dandelion is used for digestives issues, liver disease, jaundice, enhancing the appetite, easing digestion, cleansing the liver, hepatitis, gallbladder infections, gallstones, skin problems and headaches. Dandelion increases insulin secretion, is effective as a diuretic and useful for hypoglycemia. 

To use, make a standard decoction or use 10-30 drops of tincture. ½ cup infusion, every 30 minutes to treat stomach aches.          

5. Echinacea-

I saved my favorite herb for last! Echinacea is my go-to for so many things. This herb is called Purple Coneflower locally. It grows wild across Oklahoma, but is also easily cultivated for personal use. I appreciate it's gentleness in easing all things in the "sick" category. 

Echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation and inflammatory skin conditions. It also kills yeast and slows or stops the growth of bacteria.

Echinacea purpurea has no known toxicity and has an excellent safety record, being very well tolerated by most people. However, Echinacea purpurea should not be used in progressive systemic and autoimmune disorders such as tuberculosis, leucosis, connective tissue disorders, collagenosis and related diseases.

For additional information on herbs during pregnancy, see this handy visual aid I made! 




“The Way of Herbs”, M. Tierra, pgs, 184-5

“Complete Women’s Herbal”, M. Tierra

 “Herbal Healing for Women”, R. Gladstar, 

‘Wise Women Herbal for the Childbearing Years”, S. Weed







5 Things to Include in Your Birth Plan

Almost every mom these days has a birth plan for their upcoming birth. But what exactly is a birth plan? And what should you include? Below, I am going to give you a few tips to help you in deciding what is important to you for your birth and what should be optional based on your birth experience. 

  • Who will be attending your birth?

It is helpful for the hospital staff or midwife to know who you want in your personal space when birthing. If your partner, doula and birth photographer are all you can envision being there when your little bundle arrives, make sure the people supporting you understand your wishes. Nurses are great allies when that unwanted visitor shows up to the hospital. I often offer my families my assistance in redirecting well-meaning family members to the waiting room, or even better, sending them on a "very important" errand! 

  • How do you want to labor?

Do you envision yourself moving a lot in labor? Do you see yourself laboring in water at some point? Do you think you’ll like to have music, candles, aromatherapy or other ambiance to set the tone of the room? Include these wishes in your preferences. Moms who move during labor instinctually work with their bodies to get baby into great birthing positions. Having the opportunity to move as and when you feel is best helps with an uninhibited birth.

property of Ian Norris photography
  • What routine procedures do you want to opt out of?

Not a fan of needles? Does the idea of continuous fetal monitoring seem counterintuitive to you? Speak to your provider about your options for hep-lock or IV refusal. Find out what your provider feels comfortable with and discuss how you can both get what you’d like. Do you want to eat and drink during labor? Research is actually on your side for that one! Asking your provider what routine procedures are typically expected will give you a good base for what you might want to decline. 

  • How do you want to actually give birth?

In many instances, mothers will give birth in uncomfortable positions and with interventions they do not actually want but due to being in labor, can’t have that important discussion to decline something or clarify her wishes. It is best to have this discussion before you ever go into labor so your provider knows what to expect. If you’re birthing in a hospital or birth center, it’s a great idea for you or your doula to discuss with the staff what your expectations during pushing are so they can uphold them. If there are things that are very important to you, such as no counting or delayed cord clamping until pulsation stops or placenta encapsulation, make sure that is highlighted in your plan.

  • Newborn baby procedures!

Do you want immediate skin-to-skin with baby? How about erythromycin? Do you want baby to be suctioned upon birth of the head or not at all? Are you leaving baby intact or choosing to circumcise? These are all important baby procedures that need to be discussed beforehand with your care provider. If you are wanting anything out of standard hospital procedures for a birth in a hospital, be sure to alert your nurses as well. Most midwives will encourage you to hold your baby right away and will not disrupt that bonding time until you are ready, unless it becomes medically necessary. 

I include all of this information and so much more during our prenatal visits together. I also offer the option to come with you as you discuss your birth plan with your provider. It is helpful for us all to be on the same page and aware of everyones roles and expectations when working together. 

For more information and tips on creating your ideal birth plan, please contact me! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as well. Just click on the icons at the bottom of the page! 

Common discomforts in pregnancy, and how to soothe them.

Being pregnant can be the most wonderful time of a womans' life. She is growing another tiny human and all is blissful. She is glowing, radiant and gorgeous. Unfortunately, most every mom will be presented with some rather annoying, at best, and uncomfortable, at most, ailments during pregnancy. Here is a short list of common discomforts you might face in your own pregnancy, complete with some ways to soothe them. 

1. Swelling- Minor swelling is common for most mothers. If you find yourself pregnant during the dog days of summer, you might get an extra special helping of swelling. For most women, increasing fluids and electrolytes, resting with your feet up, taking an epsom salt bath and movement will help with any minor swelling. If you notice swelling in your face, call your care provider. This, coupled with high blood pressure and other symptoms, can be a sign of preeclampsia, a very serious condition to affect pregnant women. 

2. Backaches- As your belly grows with life, the strain to your lower back also increases. One of the best ways to remedy this is regular chiropractic care. I have been a long time patient and fan of the Dr.'s Duncan at Revolution Chiropractic, in NW Oklahoma City. Adam Duncan is Webster Certified and can greatly help ease your aching back. Rachel Duncan has a gentle approach and is great at providing lactation support to moms after baby is here.

Another way to help a backache is regular prenatal yoga. Karen Prior of Mamaste Yoga is a wealth of knowledge. Her classes are held around the Oklahoma City Metro area. She has a wonderful "Breathing for Labor" class, as well. If you're lucky enough to get a spot in that class, jump on it! You will learn how to stay strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy to head off any back pain that might normally accompany a new mom. 

3. Heartburn- This one can be tricky. Heartburn can be cause by many different things. Too much or too little stomach acid. Eating too much, to quickly, or lying down too soon after eating, etc. Papaya Enzymes were a favorite remedy of mine during my last 2 pregnancies, as were milkshakes. I found drinking room temperature water with a slice of lemon water to be the most effective, though. Drinking a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother, such as Bragg's) can help neutralize stomach acid well. Eating small, non acidic portions helps ease your digestion. 

4. Insomnia- Insomnia is nature's clever way of preparing you for parenthood. Waking every 2 hours to go to the bathroom has it's advantages, as well. For insomnia, start slow and work your way up on the potency factor of these remedies. A warm bath, perhaps with some lavender bath salts, epsom salts or chamomile added to the water is soothing and relaxing. A cup of chamomile to passionflower tea is a wonderful way to unwind in the evenings, perhaps with a nice boring book! Lavender essential oil diffused in your room will give you something meditative to breathe in for relaxing on those nights that the bath and tea aren't cutting it. When all else fails, counting sheep is a good standby! 

In conclusion, I hope you've found some of the suggestions helpful and insightful. Please, share your favorite pregnancy ailment remedy in the comments section! As always, feel free to contact me HERE for more information about my services.