Pregnancy is a time of great physical, emotional and spiritual shifts. As the belly grows and pulses with new life the mama to be has the opportunity to directly influence the health and well-being of her growing baby.
During pregnancy the body goes through a wide range of changes that can cause a variety of discomforts. Hormones increase, organs stretch and shift to accommodate new life, and blood circulation rises. Herbs provide a gentle and safe way to relieve common pregnancy related discomforts while nourishing and strengthening specific body systems.
Tonic Herbs for Pregnancy
My go to category of herbs to use during pregnancy are herbs known as tonics. These herbs are useful in improving one’s overall health during pregnancy and beyond. Tonic herbs are considered highly nourishing to a particular body system and help restore balance to that specific system. You can imagine tonic herbs as special foods for the body due to their high vitamin, mineral and nutritive quality. These gentle herbs are most effective when used over time. Tonic herbs are best avoided in the first trimester.
Without a doubt my two favorite tonic herbs for pregnancy (and beyond) are red raspberry leaf and nettle. With both my two pregnancies I started drinking 2-3 cups of these nourishing herbs at around the twenty week mark.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf has a long tradition of being used to strengthen and tone the tissue of the uterus during pregnancy. It is the most well known herbal tonic for pregnancy and is found in many pregnancy tea blends. It is often referred to as the supreme woman’s reproductive tonic herb.
Raspberry’s high mineral content makes it a valuable herb for pregnancy and breastfeeding. It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C. Raspberry leaf is rich in naturally chelated iron that the body can easily assimilate, and can be combined with our friend nettle to help with low iron levels and anemia. The leaf is also rich in niacin and manganese, which is a mineral the body uses to make connective tissue. All great things for a pregnant body.
It works to both tone a relaxed uterus or to relax a uterus that is overly toned. By helping to tone the uterus raspberry leaf can help with some of the pain associated with labor and recovery. It helps the uterus in letting go, work more efficiently, and produce a more coordinated uterine contraction. This helps make contractions more regular but less frequent. Since raspberry leaf is astringent it helps to prevent miscarriage and hemorrhaging during labor and postpartum. It can be used for post-partum pains and ease discomfort during breastfeeding. Its high mineral content make it especially nutritive to drink while breastfeeding.
Drink red raspberry tea during the last two trimesters of pregnancy and during the postpartum period.
Nettle is also known as stinging nettle due to the little stinging hairs found along its stem and leaves. It is extremely nourishing and is considered one of the best tonics for the overall body.
Nettle is high in calcium, chlorophyll, iron, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Nettle is great for pregnant women experiencing chronic fatigue and low energy associated with low iron levels. Drinking nettle tea in the weeks leading up to labor can help increase vitamin K levels, which is needed for the blood to clot and to decrease the chance of hemorrhaging. Its high calcium content is helpful in dealing with leg cramps, muscle spasms and uterus pains.
Nettle is specifically toning to the kidneys and helps them to process and eliminate waste more effectively. The kidneys are tasked with filtering and cleaning blood, and during pregnancy the body produces up to 50% more blood and increased metabolic waste. Nettles ability to strengthen and nourish the kidneys is extremely helpful during pregnancy. It is mildly diuretic and can help the body get rid of excess fluid, common during pregnancy and with cases of edema.
This herb has many potential uses during pregnancy and beyond. Nettle is thought to increase milk supply and rebuild and nourish the mother after childbirth.
NOURISHED PREGNANCY TEA RECIPE
1 cup Red Raspberry
1 cup Nettle
1/2 cup Lemon Balm
¼ cup Oatstraw
¼ cup Rose petals
⅛ cup Rosehips
- Blend all your herbs in a bowl. Store tea blend in a glass jar out of direct sunlight.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add 4-6 tbsp of herb mixture to a quart size glass jar.
- Cover with 4 cups of boiled water and cover with lid.
- Let steep overnight to make a strong medicinal tea.
- Strain out herbs and store extra tea in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Drink 2-3 cups a day in the second or third trimester! Enjoy hot or cold.
RED RASPBERRY LABOR ICE-CUBES RECIPE
My doula shared with me this idea to make some red raspberry ice cubes to have on hand for labor. This labor aid is a simple way to get in some nourishment during labor. The addition of honey makes it tasty and provides a quick energy boost. Prepare a batch in advance and store in the freezer to have on-hand.
2 tbsp. Red Raspberry
2 heaping tbsp. honey
2 cups water
Ice cube molds
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
- Steep raspberry leaf in boiled water for 30 minutes or longer. Be sure to steep covered.
- Strain and while tea is still warm stir in honey until blended. Sip and make sure you can taste the honey.
- Add to ice cube molds and freeze.
- Store in the freezer to have on hand for labor.