Welcome Guest Bloggers, Sarah Biermeier, CPM of GeneaBirth
Erin Piorier, CPM, Herbalist of ErintheMidwife
Recipe for Pregnancy Tea
2 cups Red Raspberry Leaf
1 cup Nettles
1/2 cup Alfalfa
1/2 cup Oatstraw
1/2 cup Red Clover Blossoms
3 Tablespoons Lavender
3 Tablespoons Rose Buds
The most famed herbal tonic for pregnancy is Raspberry Leaf. Women all around the world, Asian, Native American, and European, have used Raspberry Leaf for ages for the same purpose—toning and strengthening the pregnant and postpartum uterus, thus contributing to an easier labor and birth.
Raspberry is rich in minerals, which account for some of its “toning properties.” Smooth muscles, such as the uterus, function best when supplied with adequate minerals. Calcium and magnesium work in tandem to help the smooth muscles both relax and contract. In addition to calcium and magnesium, Raspberry Leaf is also rich in potassium, zinc, iron and folic acid, all of which contribute to the overall wellness of mom and baby.
Studies show that Raspberry Leaf both stimulates and relaxes the uterus. Confused? Many herbs tend to have a regulating effect on body tissues. For instance, the same herb can often be used for constipation or diarrhea, too much urine or not enough urine. Raspberry leaf may help promote the ideal type of contractions during labor: coordinated uterine contractions that are strong, rhythmic and regularly spaced with complete relaxation of the uterus in between.
Raspberry Leaf is not a drug, nor is it a markedly strong herb. Its strength comes from the nourishment it offers when consumed regularly. It is safe to drink it freely in pregnancy to taste. Raspberry Leaf makes a delicious tea that has the same astringency and richness as black tea with a touch of fruitiness. It is an appropriate beverage during labor. Do not expect, (or worry about), pitocin-type effects from this herb. Raspberry Leaf is also used postpartum to tone the uterus after birth and as a galactagogue (an herb to build breastmilk).
Stinging Nettles is the second most commonly used herbal tonic for pregnancy. Stinging Nettles is a nutritional powerhouse. It is extremely rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals that are woefully lacking in the American diet including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, sulfur, silica and other trace minerals. Nettles also include B vitamins, vitamin k and abundant chlorophyll.
Nettles are a fabulously effective remedy for anemia, a very common issue in pregnancy. The chlorophyll and iron help to build blood. Nettles are very energizing to those suffering from the fatigue of anemia.
Alfalfa is high in beta-carotene which is one of a group of natural chemicals known as carotenes or carotenoids. Carotenes are responsible for the orange color of many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. Beta carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A. It is an antioxidant, like vitamins E and C. Alfalfa is also a good source of Vitamins C, E and Vitamin K.
Oatstraw is a wonderful source of calcium and magnesium. In pregnancy it can be normal to be deficient in both of these and while a supplement can help, getting it through a food source is the best way. Oatstraw can help with pregnancy symptoms like restless legs, muscle cramps and anxiety by soothing smooth muscles and reducing anxiety.
Red clover contains many lovely nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). Some sources consider red clover to be contra-indicated in pregnancy because of phytoestrogens it contains. Susan Weed, an herbalist I look to, doesn’t have it as contra-indicated in pregnancy, but you can use your own judgment. I use a small amount in my tea.
I find the lavender and the rose buds to be soothing and tasty additions to my tea blend. They are great stress relievers, wonderful aromatherapy, and taste amazing. You can choose to leave these out and add in peppermint or spearmint instead for a tasty summer tea!
Don’t forget to swing back here next Wednesday for a recipe you can use as a healing sitz bath postpartum.