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Excepts from Saving Tristan
Chapter Three

Herbs for the New and Expectant Mom

Herbs can support the new and expectant mom by providing part of the additional nourishment needed and easing many of the discomforts experienced during pregnancy, childbirth and the nursing period. As caring mothers the safety of our unborn or nursing child is foremost in our minds, and everything that passes our lips undergoes the test of "Will this hurt my baby?" While many herbs have been safely and successfully used during pregnancy and while nursing, it is important to consider the safety of any herbal product during this time. All herbs with a laxative effect should be avoided. Other commonly used herbs to avoid are Feverfew, Uva Ursi and Golden Seal. When in doubt always check with your midwife, a good herbal reference or your healthcare provider. Resist the idea of it being safe because it is natural or herbal. This is a beautiful time, your opportunity to partner with God in the miracle of life, and in this chapter you will discover God given plants and nutrients to make being a mom a little easier.

Calcium is mom's best friend and when taken daily in a liquid combination extracted from herbs rich in calcium and magnesium. Your body will thank you. The old saying a tooth is lost with each child carried and birthed is accurate for many women who fail to provide the extra calcium the body needs as their little one develops. Aching joints, nervousness, fatigue, leg cramps and tooth decay can all be signs your body is begging for more calcium.

Among the herbs highest in calcium is a prickly little plant known as Stinging Nettle, and most hikers are familiar with its stinging burn. Magnesium, a calcium carrier, transports calcium in and out of the cell membranes, Oat Straw ranked best in a study done by research chemist Mark Pederson (Nutritional Herbology) on magnesium sources. Horsetail is unique among herbs containing silicon in a bioavailable form. Silicon assists calcium in the maintenance and growth of bones, joints and collagen levels. Corn Silk is widely used to soothe irritated bladder tissue, to prevent bedwetting and is rich in calcium. Perhaps the best known herb, Chamomile, is well studied and often included in skeletal combinations due to its smooth muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scullcap adds a calming, anti-spasmodic effect, helping you get a well deserved good night of rest. This combination of herbs (Herbal Calcium) is my personal favorite of the formulations I have created.

Lack of calcium, along with too little rest, can play a major role in not having enough milk to satisfy your baby. Today doctors who used to recommend formula are encouraging new mothers to give their baby the best, mom's milk. Studies show the benefits of nursing your child extend beyond the toddler days into adulthood. Nursing a baby when all goes well is like a satisfying dream. You are at peace knowing your baby is getting the best nourishment possible, no screaming hungry baby while the formula is being mixed and bottles are washed, it's just easy. Unfortunately, many moms know this is not always the case, and meeting the demands of a growing infant can be frustrating to say the least.

Factors contributing to the problem vary. There are wonderful herbs available to increase and enrich milk production. Prolactin is an important hormone needed for adequate milk supply. Chaste Berry is nature's amazing answer, correcting any imbalance by regulating the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Stinging Nettle, Alfalfa, Red Raspberry and Blessed Thistle are used to enrich breast milk. Anise Seed, Milk thistle and Fennel Seed stimulate and increase milk production. Anxiety about the ability to nurse, along with the stress of having a new baby to care for, can also keep your body from producing enough milk. Lemon Balm and Scullcap are relaxing and calming, while Peppermint is soothing to both mother and child. Sore nipples are enough to cause even the most committed mother to reconsider her decision to breastfeed. Marshmallow root is soothing to irritated tissue, particularly the skin and mucous membranes. Candida is the culprit in some cases, and Scullcap can be helpful in normalizing the overgrowth and preventing thrush. Maxi-Milk is a combination of these herbs in liquid extract form. Based on customer feedback more milk can be expected as early as within twenty-four hours of taking the first dose.

Midwives have used and promoted herbal remedies for many years to tone and prepare the body for giving birth. Giving birth naturally without any pain is yet to be discovered for most women. However, there are herbs whose effects on the uterus and the systems involved in childbirth are very valuable. Red Raspberry Leaf is the most popular uterine tonic and enjoys an excellent reputation as the single most important herb to prepare the body for giving birth and reduce the pain of childbirth.

Wild Yam and Squawvine can gently relieve anxiety and late pregnancy discomfort along with reducing pain during birth. The bitter compounds of False Unicorn have a normalizing and enhancing effect on the uterus and ovaries and can be helpful for moms who tend to carry past their due date or have long labors. Blue Cohosh is widely used to bring on effective contractions, and should be used with caution during late pregnancy or as part of a combination. Blessed Thistle, Scullcap, Motherwort, and Ginger can be used as late pregnancy tonics, having a calming, soothing effect. A small amount of Bayberry may help prevent excessive bleeding

At the request of my mother-in-law, who was a midwife for twenty six years, I created a combination of these herbal extracts from an old manual, adjusting it based on more modern studies and named it Gentle Birth Formula. Responses from grateful new moms poured in and confirmed that birth can indeed be a gentle, natural process. On a personal note I used this combination in preparation for giving birth to our last two children. Previous labors had been long and very difficult—twenty-eight and seventeen hours of blood, sweat and tears. With the help of herbs, our daughter was in my arms after six hours of labor and our third son entered the world after four short hours. There is no question as to which labor I preferred!

After pains can block the joy of holding you precious new daughter or son; herbs are a wonderful gift at this time. Crampbark and Black Haw have an almost immediate direct effect on the uterus especially in liquid extract form. They are among the best in quickly relieving after pains. St. Johns Wort and Yarrow are also helpful. Nursing can bring on afterpains during the first few weeks. Keeping a bottle of After-Pain Relief within easy reach is helpful, and repeating the dosage until the pain lessens is appropriate.

Morning Sickness

Ginger is the nauseous mom to be's best friend! A combination of fresh and dried Ginger extract was shown to eliminate or reduce nausea and vomiting in eighty percent of women suffering from morning sickness participating in a clinical trial. Digestion slows as high levels of estrogen circulate. Peppermint and Fennel stimulate digestion preventing gas from forming. Stomach Aid

If you have a history of morning sickness, doing a liver and whole body cleanse before conceiving has helped women avoid the experience. Liver Glow II contains Lemon Balm, Alfalfa, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Grape Seed and Olive Leaf to safely support your liver during pregnancy and may be all you need to feel better. These herbs can be taken with Stomach Aid. Supporting the liver with herbs can also help relieve the exhaustion so many moms experience while expecting as it is responsible for meeting most of our energy needs along with the adrenal glands.

Located at the top of the kidneys the adrenal glands increase in size and activity during pregnancy. Astragalus, Rhodiola, Eleuthero and Wild Yam are all wonderful in supporting the adrenal glands in their role of responding to stress, producing hormones that affect blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Adren-L-Aid II

Miscarriage

Approximately twenty percent or one in five pregnancies end in loss, most of them occurring within the first twelve weeks. There may be a genetic disorder, a problem with mom, dad, or the baby, and often there is no answer. Using a combination of herbs to calm the uterus, relieve stress and balance hormones can be helpful in some cases and generally inevitable miscarriage (one where the baby has died) is not prolonged. Black Haw is used by European physicians and modern herbalists to calm and relax the uterus. Cramp Bark relieves cramping and pain and calms the nerves. False Unicorn has a balancing effect on female hormones; Wild Yam is traditionally used to ease muscle spasms and stimulates the adrenal glands. Anxiety can be gently relieved by Passion Flower as it calms the nerves and promotes restful sleep. C&B Formula is a combination of these herbs, 1/2 teaspoon can be taken every 2-3 hours until the cramping and bleeding lessens, followed by 1/4 teaspoon one to three times daily as needed.