Herbal medicine is a wonderful tool to support health. During pregnancy, herbal remedies may be recommended by a naturopath to keep you and bub feeling well. There are a number of different herbs that you may be recommended, but some are more common than other – and the two most often use in pregnancy are Raspberry leaf and Ginger.
Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) is what we call a partus preparator: a remedy that helps prepare your body for labour and birth. Usually recommended from the second trimester onwards, this herb can be drunk as a tea, taken as a tablet or even a liquid extract (often combined with 2-3 other herbs).
Raspberry leaf has a pleasant, slightly astringent taste and combines well with Peppermint, Chamomile and Ginger to make a delicious herbal brew.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a long history of use for all sorts of digestive disturbances – including nausea in pregnancy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for everyone and some women actually feel worse after having Ginger. For those that do respond well, however, Ginger is an excellent remedy for morning sickness.
Ginger tea, first thing in the morning or throughout the day is the best way to have it. Fresh Ginger is ideal – it can be sliced, grated or crushed in hot water. It can also be combined with shredded mint leaves, a pinch of cinnamon and/or a crushed cardamom pod for a delicious, aromatic, stomach settling tea.
For those that don’t enjoy tea, tablets and capsules can also be used and are extremely handy when you’re on the move.
Depending on your individual health, there are a number of other remedies available. For example, if you come down with a coughs or cold, an Echinacea (Echinacea spp) extract may be prescribed. This is an excellent remedy to boost immunity and fight infection. Together with immune boosting nutrients and plenty of rest (where you can get it!), this herb will work wonders for a rundown mama.
Indigestion and acid reflux are, unfortunately, not uncommon during pregnancy, particularly into the third trimester when your baby’s starting to take up a lot more space! One of the best remedies for this is Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra). This powdered herb is combined with water to create a mucilaginous paste that soothes inflammation and acts as a barrier against the damaging effects of stomach acid on the oesophagus.
It’s always important to talk with a qualified herbalist or naturopath before taking a herbal remedy, as, like any medicine, herbs can some cause unwanted side effects. However, under professional recommendation, herbal medicine is safe, effective and offers a wide range of treatment options to help you stay healthy through your pregnancy.
Kathleen Murphy is a clinical naturopath and freelance writer. Originally from Brisbane, she’s now based in Sydney and practices out of a large integrated medicine clinic. Kathleen has a particular interest in supporting the health of new parents, infants and children; as she is passionate about creating healthy foundations for our next generation. Her practice focuses on optimising day-to-day living through diet, lifestyle and herbal therapy.