Herbal Supports in Pregnancy

I will start off by saying I am not a certified herbalist but as a green witch with a love of plant medicine these are some of my favourite plants. Please consult herbalists, naturopaths or other trusted professionals if in doubt or dealing with specific conditions.

RED RASPBERRY LEAF- Rubus idaeus red raspberry leaf

The most highly used herb during pregnancy, labour and nursing. Red Raspberry leaf tea is a friend till the end. During first trimester R.R’s high mineral content, rich in calcium, magnesium and iron build strength and can aid morning sickness as well as leg cramps. It also has a high concentration of Vitamin C.

A nourishing energy to the reproductive system R. R brings increased blood flow to the uterus which supports a healthy growing baby and as well tones the uterus for a speedy recovery. It’s astringent nature also support in slowing bleeding during labour and can help to dispel the placenta.

Taken after labour this herb can support milk flow and bring mineral support back into the depleted body.

 How to use:   Red Raspberry tea can be made from dried leaves (either gather from garden or purchased at a reputable herbal store) Also bought in pre-made tea bags.

Drink hot or cold mixed in combination with other herbs or alone.

Can be made into ice cubes to be sucked on while in labour or during times of morning sickness. Boil ginger root and at a tea bag of raspberry leaf- freeze into cubes and suck on through out labour or periods of nausea.

Brew:

Cup– 1 cup water to 1 tsp Red Raspberry leaf- steep at least 10 minutes

Jug– Boil 4- 5 cups water, Add 2 tbsp. Red Raspberry and steep at least 10 minutes

Vat– To make a huge batch just 3/4 to 1 cup of R.R. 16 cups of boiling water. I pour the herbs and boiling water into a big glass jar, cover with a plate and leave overnight before straining for a strong tea. That can be then watered down to taste, or frozen into ice cubes.

 OAT STRAW- Avena sativa oatstraw

Oats and oatstraw are incredibly kind to the body’s nervous system. High in magnesium calcium and silica supports building healthy bones, tissues, nails and hair in mama and baby. Oatstraw can be a safe energy booster bringing centered energy into the body after nervous exhaustion or a bad nights sleep.

Nourishing to the brain, oats are fabulous for reducing anxiety and creating a calm, alkaline state internally, by improving digestion and bowel function. Oatstraw tea can also improve circulation to the uterus. Oats or oatsraw tea can also be applied as a cold compress to relieve itching or stretch marks, eczema or other rash flair ups.

How to use:

Make an oatstraw tea- purchase at herbal store loose or in bags. Herbalist Susun Weed recommends loose to get more full spectrum of the herbs.

Eat oatmeal for breakfast! I was not a breakfast person but something happened around my second trimester and I needed to eat when I woke up to get me through the day.I actually remembered that my mom had said she ate a ton of oatmeal while pregnant with me. She thought that is why my complexion was one that was more apt to burn. While she ate a ton on coffee ice cream with one of my brothers who soaks up the sun and almost becomes another race. So be warned about an oatmeal baby!

My breakfast of champions was oatmeal. I craved it!

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or almond butter
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • handful walnuts, pumpkin seeds
  • a smackrel of honey or maple syrup
  •  a dash of quality cocoa powder or cinnamon

YUM YUM YUM!!!

gingerGINGER- Zingiber officinale

Ginger is a warming herb that works on the digestive system and immune system. Ginger has long been used as a sacred remedy in many traditions from the creation of gingerbread for digestion in Roman times to the use of ginger ale to prevent sea sickness and vertigo for Viking travelers. Gigners medicinal properties are highly regarded in Chinese medicine as a yang stimulating herb and used in hundreds of preparations because of its stimulating nature and ability to carrier other remedies through out the blood.

Ginger tea can promote digestive juices and increase desire for food if you are feeling nauseas with morning sickness (that might come and go throughout the day!) It also supports healthy digestion. Ginger also can aid the body in the absorption of nutrients so if you are not able to keep food down making a very nourishing tea with ginger and other mentioned herbs could be away to continue to receive the nourishment your body and growing baby needs. It can also support digestive functioning if your body is having trouble with constipation during pregnancy.

Ginger also improves circulation which can help maintain energy levels throughout the day during all stages of pregnancy.

 How to use:

Ginger tea hot or cold- When I was starting to feel like I might be coming down with a cold my number one remedy is:

 Ginger Immune Potion  (all measurements are rough estimates)

  • hunk (4 tbsp ish) chopped ginger root
  • 5 cups water

Simmer for 15 minutes then add the following

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. honey

(Possibly a clove or 2 of garlic for extra immune boosting)

  • Ginger can also be combined with Red Raspberry leaf for a tea infusion for morning sickness
  • Ginger can also be taken in capsule form or found in candy format to suck on
  • Ginger foot soak for fluid retention and circulation

NETTLES- Urtica dioica 

Nettle_botanical_drawing

The Tibetan master and Buddhist saint Malirepa is portrayed in images as green because it was said he lived off nothing but nettles for years in mediation. Nettles also contains high amounts of chlorophyll, the compound which supports the absorption of light in a plant and gives plants their green colour.

Nettles, like dandelion is considered a weed, but this weed which grows world wide, has many delightful properties. This deeply nourishing and rich medicine is high in iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamins A, C, D and K.

In early and late pregnancy nettles is supportive to energy levels, strengthens kidney and adrenal function and can be a great remedy for those who are suffering from anemia. Due to it’s astringent properties it can be useful for those who may get hemorrhoids, to be taken as a tea or made into a poultice or put in a sitz bath.

Nettles is a wonderful immune booster and increases our resistance to illness by improving absorption of iron, regulating blood sugar levels and supporting liver function.

In later stages of pregnancy, birth and beyond nettles naturally increases milk production, and it may reduce the likelihood of tearing and hemorrhage during birth.

 How to use:

You can gather nettles and cook in summer with spinach and lemon for a salad, for full connection to the plant and mineral absorption. But nettles does sting so wear gloves to harvest!

It can also be used fresh in tea infusion or dried or frozen for later use in teas.

Some grew in my garden so I harvested for all of these uses and drank dried throughout the winter season. You can find nettels in health food stores loose of pre-packaged.

Potent Pregnancy Potion

I drank a combination of these herbs throughout my pregnancy.

I had grown the peppermint and lemon balm consciously in my garden and the nettles was a friend that popped up all on its own! I had harvested some red raspberry leaf from the raspberry’s that grow at my cottage and the rest was purchased from an herbal store. Drinking this tea always felt deeply nourishing to my mind, body and soul. In early pregnancy when I felt nauseas I would add more peppermint or throw in some ginger and drink at room temperature throughout the day. When winter months and my third trimester hit I upped the red raspberry and nettles which felt like a green infusion to my system and strengthened my reserves. On nights where sleep was intermittent I would add more oat straw or lemon balm to sooth my nerves.

General Pregnancy Tea Tonic IMG_7234

  • 4 parts Red Raspberry
  • 2 parts Nettles
  • 1 part Oat straw
  • 1 part Alfalfa
  • 1/2 part Peppermint
  • 1/2 part Spearmint
  • 1/2 part Lemon balm

celebration herbalsFor pre packaged tea bags Celebration Herbals can be purchased at Noah’s’; The Carrot Common, Hoopers.

To purchase loose leaf teas you can find at Thuna’s on the Danforth; Qi Natural Foods.

Mat clothes vs Fat clothes

About four weeks into pregnancy I found my boobs were actually swelling with lushness. Finally that right of passage was here! 33 years old and my mom could take me shopping for a bra! I have always been flat chested.

I appreciate breasts immensely.  I mean I love curves on other women, but I honestly have never really wanted a more ample bossom myself. More over, I never wanted to have an “over the should boulder holder”, as Bette Midler crooned about in Beaches. Cheryl has gorgeous breasts that I adore, but when I see her take off her bra sometimes with marks on her skin it makes me wince. I couldn’t do the underwire, cup thing so I set out for some bando type diddies for me titties and felt it actually extremely comforting to hold my growing chest in close.

On our journey I checked out some maternity stores. Evymama on the Danforth, B to B Maternity on Bayview and Belly on Mt.Pleasant.

We walked into Belly, where the waif like blonde woman, no thicker than my thigh, and she was helping other waif-like, apparently pregnant women out. My mother and I immediately gave each other the “wtf” glance. The woman seemed to look at me in my layered rag look the same way.  But I tucked some of my judgement away and went over to the racks of expensive and monochromatically laid out boring clothes. Shades of gray and black, t-shirts for 90$ and skinny maternity waist jeans for $250. I tried on a black size large cotton t-shirt and could barely fit it over my head, it was so tight on my arms I had to get my mom to pull it off me. This was obviously not for me, I could barely fit into a large and I wasn’t even showing yet!

Next we headed to B and B Maternity on Bayview, which is a consignment store, so I thought could be a bit more variety in style and price but again it was pretty slim pickings, nothing too fun and bold or alternative. It was discouraging.

Then we passed by Tzatz  a “designer boutique for boomer women”. My mom saw a purple moo moo like dress in the window and we thought why not. Immediately I found a couple larger sized fitted and diaphanous type sweaters in unique materials and colours that fit and had room to grow and made me feel like a natural woman. Also the sales people were hilarious, these two  coiffed and manicured older European woman immediately came to our assistance and not in the annoyingly aggressive way, and were all, “Dahling, would you like something like thees?” I felt like Pretty Woman. The prices were not cheap but I got a couple key items to grow with that felt fashionable and fresh, it was well worth it. Fuck maternity shopping I decided, those stores are for Posh preggos, something I am not.

Now I don’t mean to offend, we are all individuals and perhaps these stores work for you….but if they don’t here are some of my tips.

H n M- Back to BasicsI found amazing selection here of leggings that had a loose fitting waist that is completely comfortable and can be worn with long tops and dresses, Simple straight cut skirts- I found a couple long skirts not too tight but pencil style so it gives a slimming feel and the waist band can be worn over the belly and look great!

Cardigans without bottons- I few cardigans that do not need to be done up and can still provide warmth

Long Tank tops and tops- I love layering a long tight tank top and then adding a shirt overtop

Joe Fresh– Large and Extra Large- Long sleeve tops and t-shirts

Now, the one maternity thing I did purchase at Evymama which has been fabulous so far was the Bellaband- I think it was around 30$ and allows me to wear my jeans unbuttoned which is still comfortable at 7 months baked.

 bellaband slim skirt leggings dress

Fertile Ground- Part 2: Manifest Destiny!

I am a firm believer in preparation, like setting the atmosphere and intention before an important change in your life. I’m comforted at times by my to-do lists or manifestation guides. They help to keep me focused.

Tuning into my body and observing the Earth’s rhythms and moon cycles has been an empowering practice I’ve cultivated throughout my life and it became even more valuable and powerful when working towards conception. 

These are just some suggestions if you are laying the foundation for fertility:

(*Please adapt accordingly! If you have a partner (male or female) some of this work can be done together. If you have a known sperm donor you can invite them to participate in some of their own fertility groundwork.)

fertility tree, costa rica

our found fertility tree in costa rica

1. Surround yourself with fertility. Print images of fertility goddess or ripe round pregnant women. Find fertility in a lush landscape, ripe fruit trees, rolling rivers.

What resonates with you?  Bite into fresh fruit, something sexy like a mango and feel  the juices running down your face.

Pick berries, swim in lakes and rivers, soak up the sun, walk barefoot, take a belly dancing class…just do things that make you feel alive, luscious, sensuous and strong.

Think of an abundant time in your life or place that fills you with joy and have those images surrounding you.

venus of willendorf

venus of willendorf

 2. Build a fertility altar- Make it meaningful to you.

Create a small area, even just be a table top in a quite spot. Your bedroom might be the perfect intimate space, where you can sit and meditate or reflect upon it daily. Image is a powerful tool to speak with the subconscious, using image where possible is a wonderful way to build and hold intention for what you are wanting to manifest.

Our thoughts and intentions are energy that has the power to be seeds of the future.  What are you sprouting? Visualize, visualize, visualize!

  • Images of yourself (and or partner or family) at various stages in your life, starting with the youngest image you have.
  • Fresh flowers blooming or seeds in soil from your garden.
  • A red cloth or  a red candle to represent life blood.
  • A bowl of water to connect with the vital life force of creation.
  • Images or figures of fertility Goddesses such as Mary, Brigid, Ix Chel, Gaia, Demeter, Corn Maiden.
  • An egg or egg shaped rock, something phallic or sperm representative
  • Affirmations such as: “I am a fertile goddess”; “I am a sacred vessel for life”; “I surrender to the power of creation” ; “I am abundant and full of life force potential”
  • Other images, or items that represent abundance, fertility, sensuality or family to you.
  • If you are using an unknown sperm donor and have their profile or profile number placing this on your conception altar can build an energetic alignment between the two (three) of you before and during the insemination process

Whatever you place there, these items should reflect  and invoke a fullness and bring joy and heart warming feelings to you. If your Great Aunt Mildred gave you her wedding ring and she was an important person in your family lineage this might be a powerful medicine item to be on your altar. But if Aunt Mildred was a wretched old bat and you think the ring is ugly don’t put it on your altar just as a symbol to represent your family lineage.

cornucopia

cornucopious delight

3. Eat, breath, drink fertility.

Apparently sugar, caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol are NOT delicious and nutritious for egg/sperm development?!

I’m not going to say to get pregnant you must eat pure organic food or to only drink spring water. Let’s get real people get pregnant all the time in the least optimal health and wellness.  Not that those choices can’t be potentially beneficial to your overall wellbeing, but, make good choices for yourself. There may be somethings you need to cut back on, or supplements that can generate more health, stamina and life force in your body.

Eating fertility enriching foods that can reduce inflammation in the body, support regulation of hormones, regular ovulation and strengthen egg quality.

The Fertility Vitamins and Minerals are: B6, B12,  Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Calcium, Zinc and Iron.  (More to come on this topic with direct links to other sites)

spend time in nature

spend time in nature

4. Be in your body- Connect with the Earth

We all come from the Earth and go back to the Earth. Our bodies are our vehicles while we are here. If you have body issues take a closer look at that and attempt to soften your self image. Be kind, gentle, and self nurturing. Your body will be the home for new life. Treat it with compassion and love.

If you never exercise, or take a moment to slow down, walk in nature; listen to your breath; now might be a great time to attempt that yoga class, take a walk in the ravine, learn how to meditate…believe me everyone can meditate for at least 5 minutes a day. Creating time to cultivate your intentions and fill yourself with life force enhances your vitality and aligns you to being the sacred vessel that you already are.

Developing a relationship with the Earth Mother has been a vital part of my life. Following Her rhythms has supported me through many challenges. It can be very nourishing to find a tree or spot outside and just be. To listen and to breathe.

sacred sperm and egg

sacred sperm and egg

5. Create something new, especially with the focus of fertility or conception in mind.

 Loversauce and I painted a conception image and placed it on our altar for many months in preparation for conception. We chose colours that felt strong to us and painted the golden sperm connecting with the silvery blue egg. To us it was charged with life force and our intentions for that one miraculous moment.  We sent the image to Skippy (our sperm donor) as well so that he could hold the same visualization as us.

Fertile Ground- Setting the Foundation for Conception- Part 1

black swallowtail caterpillar- "big joe"

big joe- a black swallowtail caterpillar

It was April 2012 when our friends Blade and Reznor came into town one weekend tracking their ovulation cycle and their sperm donor to Toronto. It was actually their first insemination and we were hosting!

It couldn’t have been more perfect timing the fecundity in our house was bomping. We were hatching three species of butterflies and had just found out our male snake was actually a female when she popped out 23 (unfertilized) eggs!

The room in our basement that I use for  meditation and yoga became the womb chamber. I set out to print fertility goddess images and ripe pregnant bellies, quotes on motherhood and golden sperm to set the tone.

The rendez-vous was to happen in the early morning before their donor, Ebert, had to get to some meetings. We all ate breakfast and giggled as we picked out some internet porn we thought might assist Ebert with his “task at hand”- you know, just to make him more comfortable to walk into a house with four lesbians eager for him to do his business and help make a baby already!

It was a pretty surreal and comical experience to be an observer for and also we felt so blessed that we could be a part of it. Wait, let me clarify we didn’t “observe” all the processes  involved but there was ample discussion about textures and volumes and angles of syringes and B12 supplements. So I felt like I was right in there, taking notes.

And not that day, but Blade, Reznor and Ebert did create a beautiful baby boy who was born in August 2013.

So we decided after that to set our  foray into familydom for the following April, 2013.

And now to prepare….

first flight! red admiral on clematis

first flight! red admiral on clematis