As I am well into my third trimester (and my guess date is fast approaching), I want to take a moment to talk about some of the supplements I have been taking during this pregnancy, and list a few other honorable mentions. There is a lot of talk in the mainstream about the “danger” of herbal usage, and I want to shed some positive light on the subject. When we become pregnant, for most of us that protective instinct overtakes us from the very beginning, wanting only the best for our developing little ones. However, I feel that that a lot of moms worry about the effects natural herbs (or supplements) have on babies, while at the same time having little or no concern about the chemicals and preservatives they are ingesting on a daily basis through the mainstream food supply.
Of course, I am not a medical professional and I’m not going to say that all herbs are okay to take during pregnancy. Obviously there are some to avoid (also listed below), but that doesn’t mean that all herbs should be ignored. If anything, when we are pregnant we should take a closer look at the additives that are in our food, avoiding excessive amounts of processed meals, eat more fresh veggies and/or fruits, and of course, incorporate herbs that are beneficial to our pregnancy.
So which ones should we take? Here are a few (with links provided to get them for yourself) that I have found to be worth the time:
Alfalfa: Great to take during the last trimester of pregnancy, alfalfa contains chlorophyll and vitamin k, which helps blood clotting. Ingesting alfalfa will help prevent hemorrhages during your birthing time and postpartum bleeding. Nature’s Plus – Alfalfa, 550.8 mg, 300 tablets
Red Raspberry Leaf: As I have mentioned in a previous post, red raspberry leaf is a fantastic herb to take throughout pregnancy: “Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, raspberry also contains the alkaloid fragarine, the constituent that contributes to the plant’s potency as a pregnancy tonic. Red raspberry strengthens and tones the uterus,cleanses mucus membranes, helps with constipation, eases morning sickness, and assists in milk production.” Nature’s Answer Raspberry Leaf, 1-Ounce)
Cacao: I have to mention raw cacao because even though it may not be classified as a classic “herb”, consuming raw cacao has benefits for pregnant women and is something I highly recommend. “For example, according to A. Christine Harris, Ph.D., author of “The Pregnancy Journal,” states that raw cacao is beneficial for pregnant women because it contains B vitamins and minerals such as copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, potassium and iron.” In fact, cacao is the number one source of magnesium, which helps balance brain chemistry and strengthen the bones! Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs, 8-Ounce Pouches
Dandelion root: As one of the best herbs for cleansing the liver, dandelion is great for pregnancy because it increases digestion, which aids in constipation. It is high in potassium, and contains calcium and iron. The leaf is a mild diuretic, and can help in alleviating water retention during your pregnancy.You can drink straight dandelion tea, or brew some pregnancy tea (which typically contains dandelion) to receive these benefits. Dandelion Root Tea Alvita Tea 24 Bag
Hemp and/or hemp seed oil: Definitely worth taking, hemp is a super herb! Hemp is high in protein, antioxidants, carotenes, phytosterols and phospholipids. “Hemp oil also contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sulphur, iron, zinc and potassium. You may also benefit from hemp oil’s naturally occurring chlorophyll as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C and E.” Furthermore, hemp is high in essential fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 3) which is super beneficial to the health of your growing baby. “According to Karlene Karst, a registered dietician, essential fatty acids are important for brain, nervous system and retinal development in children. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy improved their babies’ chances of having healthier brains. The study also revealed that these same babies had better sleep patterns within the first 48 hours following birth. Infant sleep patterns may be a reflection of nervous system maturity and contribute to an increased rate of development within the first year of a child’s life.” Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Hi Fiber, 3 Pound Bag
Nettles: We all know the importance of folic acid during pregnancy (helps with brain/spinal cord development and prevents birth defects involving such), and nettles supplies this and more. It is high in iron, calcium, and helps strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. It can also help women who suffer from hemorrhoids. Postpartum, nettles can increase milk supply. Now Foods Nettle Root Extractract 250mg, Veg-capsules, 90-Count
As mentioned before, there are herbs that should be avoided, specifically ones that stimulate uterine contractions (birthwort, blue cohosh, cinchona), and that stimulate menstrual flow (agave, pennyroyal, watercress, wormwood). Herbs high in volatile oils should be avoided as well (eucalyptus, nutmeg, basil, catnip, lemon balm, marjoram, pennyroyal, oregano, true sage, and thyme), however, using herbs to flavor food generally is not something to worry about. Of course, don’t go steeping these herbs in tea! I should also mention that it has been advised to avoid plants high in alkaloids, herbs that affect hormones, are harsh laxatives, and strong diuretics.
That being said, talk to your midwife or doctor about any herbs that you decide to use during your pregnancy. Just like anything else, when you incorporate the right foods and herbs into your diet, you can experience benefits to the health of you and your growing baby! The important thing is to remember to follow your heart and do what feels right for your pregnancy!
Sending best wishes and *HUGS*
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