Delivery: Before And After

Birth requires a tremendous amount of energy – I have even heard it compared to a 30-mile run. Some women will swear that it is more like twice that! If you choose to bring herbs to your birth, have someone there in charge of them; a woman in labor has better things to do than educate her labor crew on the use of herbs.

Many midwives and herbalists suggest taking very small amounts of black cohosh and blue cohosh during the last two weeks of pregnancy, because they believe that these herbs prepare the uterus for the final run by encouraging the light, early contractions women begin to feel weeks before labor begins. The two types of cohosh are also used to encourage a slow labor once serious contractions begin. Although it is suggested in some herb books that these herbs should be taken throughout pregnancy, this is definitely not a good idea. In other books, women are warned against using them at all because both herbs can affect blood pressure adversely. Many midwives and nurse-practitioners are familiar with the herbs that are discussed here; ask them to help you develop an herbal regime that is right for you.

After delivery, drink lightly sweetened, warm tea. An excellent choice is a ginger tea, which you can buy at a natural food store or make by grating a teaspoonful of ginger and steeping it in a cup of boiling water. A tincture of shepherd’s purse, cayenne or yarrow will slow postpartum bleeding. I know several nurse-midwives who carry shepherd’s purse in their birthing kits and report that it provides great results. When a friend gave birth, I saw how effective cayenne can be as her bleeding stopped after she swallowed two capsules. A few days after birth, start taking daily sitz baths in calendula, comfrey, chamomile and rosemary to ease any lingering discomfort and promote healing.

Massage the abdomen with the Pregnant Belly Oil, which contains skin-toning herbs such as lavender. The uplifting fragrances of these herbs provides emotional balance for postpartum blues, which are thought to result from the sudden hormonal changes, especially the drop in progesterone {which increases to about 15 times its normal level during pregnancy}, following childbirth. A tea, a tincture or capsules of wild yam, vitex and motherwort can also help you through the slump.

Pregnancy Tea:

1/2 teaspoon wild yam rhizome

1/4 teaspoon ginger rhizome

5 cups water

2 teaspoons red raspberry leaves

1 teaspoon lemon balm leaves

1/2 teaspoon fresh oats

1/4 teaspoon dandelion root

1/2 teaspoon peppermint leaves {optional}

2 ounces lemon juice {optional}

Gently simmer wild yam and ginger in water in an uncovered pot for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in other herbs. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs. Drink 1 to 4 cups a day, either warm or iced. For variety, add peppermint leaves to recipe or lemon juice to finish tea.

Breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding provides your baby with natural defenses against disease, but is not always as natural for the mother as she might wish. If your milk comes slowly, try milk thistle, blessed thistle, nettles, vervain, vitex or the seeds of anise, dill, fenugreek, fennel and vitex. Then, when you are ready to wean your baby, drink a tea of sage or eat lentils flavored with sage to slow your milk flow.

Nursing Tea:

1 quart boiling water

1 teaspoon each vitex berries and blessed thistle leaves

1/2 teaspoon each nettle leaves and vervain leaf {optional-it may be hard to find}

1/4 teaspoon each fenugreek seed and anise seed

Pour boiling water over herbs and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs. Drink 1 to 3 cups daily.

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