Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Using Herbs For a Healthier Pregnancy and Delivery

After sharing my birth story I have received a lot of requests to go into more detail about the herbs I took. I love to research things that could potentially help my labors go a little easier, and this pregnancy was no exception to that!

My midwives (all three of them!) haven't ever been enthusiastic about me trying the six week labour formulas out there, so I've never done that. This pregnancy is actually the first time I have taken herbs specifically to prepare my body for labour, and I'm so glad I did!

After doing some research, here is what I ended up taking:

Red Raspberry

I honestly think this is the most important thing I took, if I were to choose just one thing to take in preparation for labor, this would be it. It prepares your uterus for labour and can help make your contractions much more effective. My contractions were not nearly as painful this time, which I can only attribute to God's blessing and the Red Raspberry I took.  The herb also has helpful vitamins in it and an abundant supply of calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. It is reported to increase fertility, help relieve morning sickness (I haven't tried it for that yet), reduce pain before, during, and after the birth, and even aid in milk supply!

My recovery has been far better this time around as well. I delivered the placenta just minutes after giving birth, my uterus clamped down and worked perfect, requiring very little massaging. My midwife was impressed with how well my uterus was working! I always have postpartum bleeding for six weeks afterwards, but this time it was only a little over two weeks.  I did still have after pains that were hard, but they didn't last the full three days like normal. I'm a firm believer now in the benefits of Red Raspberry. Writing all this out reminds me I need to stop and go make a cup of tea to drink!

Based on information I read from a study done by Blackmore you can take up to 4500 mg of Red Raspberry a day. I just used the Nature's Way brand of Red Raspberry found at the health food store. Next time around I plan on getting the Beeyoutiful's Red Raspberry capsules as they are all organic.  I started taking the capsules at 32 weeks, taking 4 a day which was 2000 mg. When I hit 36 weeks I started taking 8 a day, which would be 4000 mg. I wasn't religious about it, there were a few days I missed but for the most part I was faithful as I wanted to give this a good try. The thought of labour pains makes you more motivated to take a supplement as well. :)  I plan on doing the same routine if the Lord blesses us with another child.

I also drank the Mamas Red Raspberry Brew from the Bulk Herb Store. I am not a tea lover at all, but I could tolerate this tea and actually enjoy it depending on how I made it. Sometimes I made the tea quite strong, so it was more medicinal tasting. Other times I made it according to the directions and it was more mild, and I didn't mind drinking it. I drank it both cold and hot with honey in it. I did not drink the tea every day, which is why I went to the capsules. I think the tea is actually a better choice if you drink a lot of it. Knowing myself I went with the capsules for my main source of the herb.

The following recommendations are commonly found online:

Tablets: Take up to 4500mg spread throughout the day-for me I took four in the morning and four at night when I was taking the 4000mg dosage.
Teabags: 1st Trimester- one cup per day (it is controversial if the tea is safe to drink in the first trimester so I never have), 2nd trimester - two cups per day, 3rd trimester - up to 4 to 5 cups a day.
Tincture- The dosage depends on the strength of the tincture.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil has a history of helping ladies become pregnant, and also greatly assisting in the third trimester. The essential fatty acid found in this oil is converted by the female into a substance known as prostaglandin. This substance is similar to a hormone which you actually get during that special time with your husband. My midwife told me to start using this oil from 37 weeks on. It is recommended to insert the oil vaginally, as well as take it orally. My midwife said to insert 3 pills at night at 37 weeks, and then at 38 1/2 weeks start swallowing 3 pills as well. I used the NOW brand which I highly recommend.


To help my anemia I took quite a bit of chlorophyll at the end of my pregnancy. The bottle said to take a teaspoon a day, but I probably took a tablespoon each day, sometimes more. I just took the bottle and squirted it in my mouth straight, without adding in water. I had mint flavored chlorophyll, and it still didn't taste great but at least I knew that I was getting it in.

While ultimately I feel like God watched over me and blessed me, I also feel grateful that He has given us herbs, and knowledge in how to use them.

An excellent resource on herbs and pregnancy that I refer to often is:

The Nursing Mother's Herbal is also a wonderful resource for the breastfeeding mother who is wanting to use herbs. 

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At January 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! I went out and bought RRL and EPO when you mentioned them a week or so ago, but I guess I need to up the dosage! Will do. The other things I am doing are alfalfa tablets for vitamin K levels (since we skip the shot for baby), Floradix for iron levels, and vitamin C to promote an intact amniotic sac. I also use placenta medicine after the birth and have experienced absolutely miraculous effects from that on lessened bleeding, lessened and shortened afterpains, and evened emotions. All good stuff!


At January 17, 2012 at 10:54 AM , Blogger A Restful Place said...

I'm 31 weeks and I'm going to start taking the RRL next week like you. My first baby was born at 37wks but thankfully I was already taking EPO. I'm going to try it again this time. I have a feeling this baby is going to come early as well so I might start the EPO early again this time. Thanks so much for sharing!

At January 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM , Blogger 1HappyWife said...

Before this pregnancy I had 2 miscarriages. After the second I started drinking Red Raspberry tea and it helped a lot with the bleeding I drank a lot the first couple weeks and then cut down to 1 a day. I noticed a huge difference in my next 3 cycles! They were the "best" :) I ever had. I drank it a lot with my last little one and she was the easiest birth I ever had! The fact she was so late might have helped as she was really ready to come :).
Liquid Cal-Mag is great for after birth pains.
I have 10 days till my "due" date ... I can't wait to see how this birth goes. Well, I can't wait to hold our little one :).
I also drink the pregnancy tea that you recommended from the Bulk Herb Store.

At January 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM , Blogger Natalie L. said...

Thank you so much for writing this up! I'm only 17 weeks and want to try and make this pregnancy way better than my first. What kind of exercising do you do as well? I can't wait to start drinking red raspberry tea!

At January 17, 2012 at 6:39 PM , Blogger Quinn said...

I second the Cal-Mag... my midwife was telling me how much it helps reduce the afterbirth pains, but she said you have to start early (3rd trimester) and let it build up in your system. She did have me on it last pregnancy, but to help with early contractions and it did lessen those pains and shorten their duration. And if there is anything I hate, it's those pains! I think they're worse than the contractions because you're trying to relax and get into a good nursing pattern with the baby but those pesky pains keep you so tense!

At January 17, 2012 at 10:33 PM , Anonymous Large family, small world said...

The RRL has been wonderful for me too. With my first three I had awful false labor for a month or more before each one was born. With my fourth (and every one since) I drank the RRL tea starting at 35 weeks and felt so much better and had almost no false labor. It also helped with energy the last trimester as well as recovery.

At January 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! This is timely, as I was needing to refresh my memory from my last pregnancy and get going with my red raspberry leaf tea.

At January 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Amanda said...

I used evening primrose oil the last few weeks of my pregnancy. It gave me horrible Braxton Hicks contractions. I was miserable! When I asked my midwife about it, she said it does that sometimes...which would have been fine if they were doing something, but I wasn't dilating or effacing any faster because of it. So, I decided to stop using it since the Braxton Hicks were so painful. My labor was 4 1/2 hours long. However, my last baby was born in 3 hours...so maybe I just go quickly.


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