Our bodies require extra love and care while pregnant, especially nutritionally. Many of the herbs that I made part of my routine prior to becoming pregnant are also great at nourishing pregnant bodies.
Strong, medicinally-potent herbs should be avoided during this sensitive time, but nourishing, food-like herbs can provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Examples of these nourishing herbs include nettle, oatstraw, alfalfa, and red raspberry. They have been used safely by midwives and wise women for countless years to support pregnant mamas. Of course, if you’re a real stickler for FDA approval, you’ll want to find your cup of tea elsewhere (harhar) and in general, it’s always best to talk to your doctor or midwife before ingesting anything. However, I think you’ll find that these herbs are gentle and safe. My midwife certainly thinks so!
The Herbal Stars
Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica): This common “weed” is surprisingly full of nourishment. It is especially rich in calcium, iron, and phosphorous. The high iron content can help prevent or heal anemia that sometimes comes with pregnancy. The importance of this herb was also known to pregnant Native American women who used it as a nourishing herb that they believed helped to prevent hemorrhaging, probably because it has a high Vitamin K content (which aids in blood clotting). Even after birth, it is beneficial to keep consuming nettle to increase milk flow and keep energy levels high. You can read more about my pre-pregnancy nettle infusions here.
Oat Straw (Avena sativa): Yes, we’re talking about the stalks and unripe fruits that are from the same plant where your oatmeal originated (although that is the rolled and pressed version of the fully formed grain). Oat straw in its herbal form is great at supporting your nervous system and is high in calcium and magnesium.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): Are you starting to feel like a rabbit yet? Alfalfa is another superb nourishing herb and is high in iron, calcium, and magnesium. It also contains Vitamin K which is helpful in blood clotting and can help to prevent excessive blood loss during birth. (This might also be something to keep in mind if you’re planning to forgo the routine Vitamin K shot that babies are given at birth in hospitals.)
Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus and related species): This herb is probably the most highly touted of pregnancy herbs because in addition to its rich vitamin and mineral content, it is thought to tone and nourish the uterus so that we can have more efficient pressure waves (what I call contractions) during our birthing time. It is high in chelated iron which is easier to absorb and it helps to increase the flow of milk after birth.
Make Your Own Tea Blend
To make this blend, include:
- 3 parts red raspberry leaf
- 2 parts nettle leaf
- 1 part alfalfa leaf
- 1 part oatstraw
- 2 parts peppermint for flavor (add more if you want it mintier)
- Optionally add stevia leaf to provide some sweetness.
There are then two ways to enjoy the beverage. You can make it into a standard tea where you fill a mug with boiling water containing 1 tablespoon of the herb mix (placed in a mesh ball, for example), or you can also make it into a more powerful infusion.
For an infusion, place 7 – 8 Tbs. of the herb mix into the bottom of a quart jar. Cover with boiling water and allow to steep for 4-8 hours (I let it sit on the counter overnight). This brew can then be reheated or enjoyed as an iced tea. Just make sure to drink it within a couple of days.
After the prolonged steep period, your infusion will be a very rich color. That’s how you know all the nourishing goodness has been absorbed into the water!
Don’t have time to make your own? I love to share this blend with others in Ohio over in my Etsy Shop!
Find the ingredients (linked above as well) at my favorite place to buy fresh, organic herbs: Mountain Rose Herbs. They even have their own blend with very similar ingredients that would be great for pregnancy, too!
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