If you noticed that we haven’t posted any blog entries in about a year, there’s a good reason for that: We had a baby! During this amazing process from conception, pregnancy, birth, and beyond into the first few months of a new life, we have learned a lot more than we knew before about ways that herbs can be used as a positive support for the mother, and the entire family! We would like to share this experience with others. Growing a baby is hard work! One of the greatest gifts you can give a pregnant person, is to be there to provide support and nourishment during their process.
Goals of this blog:
- Learn what we can do with herbs to support and nourish someone through their pregnancy, and in the first few months after birth to support and nourish the whole family.
- Dispel some of the fear and controversy around the use of herbs during pregnancy, by discussing herbs that are both safe and effective.
- Develop trust with the wisdom of our bodies, and our intuition. The material presented here is what worked for us, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. If something doesn’t feel right to you, or a particular herb doesn’t resonate in your body, trust this feeling and discontinue use.
First Trimester: The first trimester is a delicate time, when the fetus is especially sensitive and the risk of miscarriage is highest. One of the most common symptoms experienced during early pregnancy is “morning sickness”: nausea, vomiting, and a lack of appetite (or trouble keeping food down). Although called morning sickness, it can come at any time of day, and may continue after the first trimester for some pregnancies. It is important for us to do what we can to ensure the pregnant person feels as comfortable as possible, and to keep them well nourished during this time.
Herbs for Morning Sickness:
- Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is one of the best herbal remedies to reduce nausea. Put several slices of fresh ginger root in a pot of water, and simmer (covered) for about 5 minutes. You can also add dry ginger powder to hot water for a more instant ginger tea.
- Nourishing Broths:
Try making bone broth, by simmering bones in a slow cooker or large stock pot for several hours (for vegetarians, simmer vegetables and/or culinary mushrooms in water for about 30 minutes to make broth). Bone broth is very nourishing, containing large amounts of minerals, collagen and other components needed to grow a baby. Broth is easy to drink and keep down when experiencing nausea. You can even add ginger root to your broth if you like. Try adding some vegetables or meat chunks into your broth for an easy to digest soup.
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) for liver support:
During pregnancy, there are large increases and changes in hormone balance within the body. The liver is the major metabolic organ in the body, and it is responsible for breaking down this extra hormone load, as well as the normal metabolic load of body functions. The liver may have trouble processing this extra load, especially in today’s environment where we are exposed to many man-made toxins and pollutants. Milk thistle is a liver tonic herb, which can help to regenerate the liver and support its normal metabolic functions. Toning liver function can help in reducing morning sickness, because it helps the liver adapt to the extra flow of pregnancy hormones. (Note: You don’t want to take strong liver cleansing herbs during pregnancy, as releasing toxins from the liver may be harmful to the fetus. Milk Thistle is more of a liver support herb than a liver cleanser, which is why it is safe for use).
If you want to try the milk thistle seeds, a great way is to grind them into a powder (in a blender, coffee grinder or food processor) and then mix them with honey to make a thick paste. The milk thistle seeds have a nutty flavour that goes well with honey. Try eating a spoonful of this before bed – it may also help with sleeping through the night!
During the night, a lot of our excess blood is stored in the liver for filtering, and the liver is responsible for maintaining our blood glucose levels throughout the night. To do this, the liver metabolizes glycogen into glucose, and releases this glucose as needed. If you find you wake up in the middle of the night, and feel hungry, it may be a sign that the liver supply of glycogen has been depleted. This sends a signal to the central nervous system, waking us up to find something to eat. Eating honey before bed, when we are going in a restful state, brings some extra sugars into our system, and most of these sugars are converted to glycogen and stored in the liver (because we don’t need them right away for energy). This gives us an extra store of glycogen, to see us through the night.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the second trimester entry coming soon!