Pregnancy is a magical time. Doors open, strangers are quick to smile and strike up conversations, and everyone is eager to offer prophecies about the unborn baby’s gender. It is as though everyday women become revered royalty as a result of their impending motherhood. A woman bearing a child exudes an unmistakable light. She is a protective garden with an abundant radiance surrounding her.
Regardless of her education, career or background, every mother-to-be becomes submerged in the experience of impending motherhood. And one of the biggest concerns that all mothers face is how to best care for their new treasures, even before they enter the world. In addition to all of the modern medical technology and prenatal care available from doctors, there are many tried and true methods of prenatal care that have been practiced by women for thousands of years. One of these is the use of botanical and herbal infusions to promote the prenatal health of both mothers and their babies.
Compiled here is a list of botanicals and tisanes (herbal infusions) often used during this precious time. No US regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically address herbal teas. All pregnant women should be mindful that there has been limited research on the effects of herbs and teas during pregnancy. Therefore, a doctor should always be consulted before using herbal or botanical infusions during pregnancy. Herbs such as mugwort, cohosh, pennyroyal, and any herbal tea containing Ma Huang or ephedra are a few examples of items that should be avoided. Green tea or any tea from the camellia family, although high in antioxidants, are also not recommended during pregnancy or while nursing, as they have negative effects on iron absorption, an essential part of development during pregnancy. Tea also contains caffeine, which has shown to cause pregnancy and birth complications.
Rooibos is a South African shrub that brews a sweet red infusion with slight astringent notes. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and with its high antioxidant properties and absence of caffeine it can be enjoyed alone or accompanied with other fine botanicals such as chamomile or lemon verbena. Many enjoy this wonderful brew during pregnancy, and some apply the cooled brewed leaves to areas of irritated skin. Rooibos is often recommended by physicians in South Africa as a source of minerals and polyphenols during pregnancy, and later as an aid in infant colic. This wonder plant is now used at a reproductive and infertility clinic in Osaka, Japan, where rooibos is offered as a fertility and reproductive aid.
Red Raspberry Leaf:
Many attest to the powers of red raspberry leaf as a natural way to tone the uterus, and as a way of promoting a smooth birthing process. Along with nettles, this is one of the most common ingredients in many name brand pregnancy teas found in health food stores.
Traditionally recommended by midwives as a way to promote healthy milk supply for nursing mothers, an infusion of nettles is also effective as a rejuvenate for the body, and as an aid for joint and muscle pain.
Many women have turned to chamomile in moderation to help soothe their digestive system during the early stages of pregnancy, and as a relaxation aid while nursing. It can be blended with spearmint and rooibos for a soothing brew.
In addition to the natural healing properties of these plants, Ayurveda teaches us to recognize the sacred bond that exists whenever we eat, drink and draw nourishment from the abundance of the earth. The healing herbs and botanicals that we consume have taken a long journey from the hands of the farmers who grow them, to the distributors, to the wholesalers, then to the retailers from whom we buy them. The livelihood of many people relies on the health and enjoyment we derive from these healing plants. This provides us with a wonderful opportunity as we sit in front of our freshly brewed cups to take a few moments to acknowledge that as we bring health to our bodies, we are interconnected with all of the other links in the chain that brought it to us, as well as to the life that is yet to be. That is our sacred bond. By slowing down, being conscious of our body’s needs and nurturing ourselves, we can do ourselves and our unborn children a world of good.