Pregnancy is an exciting time in a womans life, but it can also be a time of bodily discomfort. Botanical medicine can help with many of the common ailments.
1. Replacing lost minerals
Pregnancy can be demanding on the mothers body, taking away a lot of nutrients from the mother to help the baby grow. So, what can you do to help replace these nutrients?
Plants like stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) have earned the title of nutritive tonic due to their high levels of iron and trace minerals, and can be used during pregnancy to help the mother meet the nutritional requirements of their growing baby.
Drinking up to 3 cups of nettle tea per day, in combination with a prenatal vitamin, can help boost maternal nutrition to optimum levels.
2. Morning sickness
Possibly the most effective herb for helping alleviate morning sickness is ginger (Zingiber officinalis). This potent rhizomes affinity for the digestive system is thought to account for its anti-emetic activity.
You can also take ginger syrup with approximately 1 tbsp syrup containing 1 gram ginger in 4 to 8 ounces of water for a more effective method. The syrup is easier on the stomach than capsules or tablets.
Ginger tea is also an option (but several cups would have to be consumed for the same effect).
3. Edema/swollen ankles
A common symptom experienced during pregnancy is swollen ankles (edema) due to water retention in the body. Cornsilk (Zea mays) is an effective herbal diuretic that can help stimulate kidney function and reduce edema.
Cornsilk also contains high potassium levels, ensuring that potassium loss is not experienced with long-term use, unlike other diuretics. Another added benefit of cornsilk is its demulcent, or soothing, action on the urinary tract, which can help reduce the incidence of cystitis during pregnancy.
To reduce non-serious edema, cornsilk can be taken as a pleasant tea, up to 5 cups daily. But any edema during pregnancy should always be monitored by a qualified health care practitioner.
4. Stretch marks
Stretch marks, due to loss of skin elasticity and collagen breakdown during prenatal growth, are commonly seen during pregnancy and afterwards. During pregnancy, massaging the area with almond oil, followed by Vitamin E Oil, can help stimulate circulation and tone the collagen.
After having your baby, aloe vera gel can be used topically on stretch marks, speeding the rate of healing through the gels aloectin B content.
There are several excellent plants, collectively referred to as galactogogues, for stimulating lactation and increasing milk flow in nursing mothers. It should be noted that these plants are to be used after having given birth, not before.
Possibly the most well-known of these is fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), which has been used since ancient times as a galactogogue. Fenugreek seeds (the part used) contain the oil diosgenin, a compound that can increase milk flow in 24 to 72 hours.
Although fenugreek can be taken in either capsule or tea form to promote lactation, many find the capsules a more pleasant option since the tea has a bitter quality to it, but this depends on your preference.