Mother Nature’s Child: Simple Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond - Herbs for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Baby
|Mother Nature’s Child: Simple Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond|
|Herbs for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Baby|
Herbs for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Baby
It is always wise to consult with your midwife or qualified health practitioner if you are considering taking herbal remedies during pregnancy. There are many wonderful tonic herbs that can aid everything from morning sickness to increasing milk supply to combating postpartum blues. However, there is also a lengthy list of plants that should be used with caution or avoided altogether during pregnancy. For example, strong labor-inducing herbs, like black or blue cohosh, should not be used until the final stage of pregnancy, and even then under consultation with your midwife. When making products like salves or massage oils for your infant or child, always use top-quality, organic ingredients. Use only pure essential oils if you use any at all, as fragrance oils are synthetic and may cause allergic reactions when used on sensitive skin. Having knowledge of a handful of simple herbal remedies during pregnancy, postpartum and for baby care can be an empowering experience for mothers and other caregivers.
Here are six reasons why:
1) Connecting with Your New Baby
Preparing gentle healing products in advance of your baby’s birth, such as diaper rash salves or baby massage oils, can be a special way to connect with your baby while he is still in utero. While preparing these gentle remedies, talk with your unborn child, explaining how you will welcome, nurture and care for him.
2) Feeling Prepared for Labor, Postpartum and Baby Care
Herbal products can be prepared in advance for use during labor and birth. Talk with your partner and midwife, and write your ideas into your birth plan so that your wishes for using healing herbs are not forgotten when the time comes. For example, herbal spritzers made with uplifting pure essential oils like sweet orange or grapefruit can help to generate positive energy in the birthing room and restart stalled labor. Herbal sitz bath blends for healing stitches or sore bottoms can be made by mixing comfrey, yarrow, calendula and lavender. Preparing these various herbal products can be a way for you to discuss your needs and desires about medical interventions and infant care with your partner and midwife, and feel more prepared to take control of your labor, birth and postpartum care.
3) Stretching Your Dollar
There are so many mama and baby products available for sale these days that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. High-quality organic herbal products are not necessarily cheap, and depending where they are purchased, may include shipping or packaging fees. If you are on a tight budget, yet want the best organic care for your children, preparing your own herbal remedies (just like growing your own food) can save substantial money. Follow simple recipes, in books such as Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar, The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm, or Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun S. Weed, which offer clear, step-by-step instructions and use familiar herbs you may already be growing in your own garden. For example, lavender, calendula, chamomile, fennel, catnip, lemon balm, peppermint and yarrow are excellent multipurpose healing plants for mom and/or baby that are easy to start with. Packaging for your homemade herbal products does not need to be fancy or expensive. Use recycled glass jars for salves, paper lunch bags to store loose-leaf herb blends, or repurposed amber bottles that are often available from naturopathic clinics. Store your products in a cool, dry, dark location (such as a cupboard), and they will last for many years.
4) Involving Older Siblings
Creating your own herbal products at home offers the perfect opportunity for an older sibling to get involved. There are plenty of tasks children of all ages can help with: harvesting herbs from the garden, tying them into bunches to dry, measuring, weighing and stirring other ingredients, or designing special homemade labels for the bottles. While working side by side, you can talk with your older child about her feelings toward the new baby and allow an early bond to form with the baby through this handmade herbal gift.
5) Building Confidence as a New Parent
We all want the best for our children, and when we make our own herbal healing remedies and know how to administer them, we can feel prepared to quickly take charge when care is needed for minor ailments and illnesses. During the process of researching recipes and creating herbal products, you will learn when and how to use herbs effectively. With your herbal medicine cabinet well-stocked with items like calendula salve for diaper rashes, arnica for bumps and bruises, fennel tea for colic, massage oils for cradle cap, sage cough syrup for sore throats, and herbal baths to ease congestion, you will know that your family is getting the best care possible. By using herbs in a dayto- day practice, you will be passing on this valuable knowledge to your children.
6) Sharing Knowledge with Others
When learning about healing herbs, remember that you really only need to start with a few plants; many herbs are versatile and have multiple uses. Build a relationship with these plants by using them in your daily routines and tending them in your own garden. Try out the following easy recipes for a diaper salve, sleep tea and herbal sitz bath, and start building your collection of simple, effective herbal remedies. As you become more confident in working with herbs, you will find plenty of opportunity to share your skills and pass the empowering knowledge of herbal healing on to other households.
Pure Calendula Diaper Salve
- 1 cup olive oil, infused with calendula blossoms
- ¾ cup beeswax
- 1 tsp. vitamin E
- Few drops pure lavender essential oil per container
To infuse oil, fill glass jar with calendula blossoms. Cover herbs with oil completely, plus 1 inch extra oil above the herbs. Store in a warm sunny window and steep 3–4 weeks, shaking jar every few days. Then strain through a fine mesh sieve, and rebottle infused calendula oil for use.
Heat infused oil on low heat. Stir in beeswax and continue stirring until it has melted. Test for proper consistency by putting a few drops on a teaspoon and placing spoon in the freezer. In a few minutes the salve will have hardened to its finished consistency. When making salve, you will need approximately 5 teaspoons beeswax per ounce of infused oil to get a nice firm salve. If you want a salve that is more solid, add more beeswax accordingly.
Add hot oil/beeswax to clean jars. Add a few drops of vitamin E and pure lavender essential oil to each jar. Label and store in cool, dark location like a cupboard.
Sweet Sleep Loose–Leaf Tea
- 2 parts lemon balm
- 2 parts chamomile blossoms
- 1 part catnip
- 1 part peppermint
- Blend dried herbs in a large bowl. Store in a stainless steel canister, glass jar or paper bag.
- Use 1 cup boiled water to 1 teaspoon tea blend. Steep 5-10 minutes.
- Serve small cups of this tea before bedtime to encourage dreaming and peaceful rest.
Optional: Add ½ part fennel seed or rose petals to herb blend.
Herbal Sitz Bath Blend
Ingredients: Equal parts yarrow leaf & flower, comfrey leaf, calendula blossoms Method:
- Mix equal parts yarrow, comfrey leaf, lavender and calendula.
- Brew as a strong herbal infusion (tea), steeping at least 15-20 minutes.
- Strain and add to a shallow warm sitz bath.
Optional: Add a handful of Epsom salts and sea salt for additional healing properties.
About the Author:
Karin Kliewer is an herbalist and postpartum doula who operates a small natural soap and herbal business called Homestead Herbals. She lives with her husband, Greg, and daughter, Maya, at Little City Farm, an urban homestead and eco bed & breakfast in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit littlecityfarm.ca or homesteadherbal.etsy.com.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #28.
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