Updated: Oct 31
Let's start with a disclaimer first: I am not a licensed herbalist and I encourage using discernment on the usage of the following herbs during pregnancy. What's shared in this blog is based on my personal experience and the 'Year of Gaia' Herbalism course I followed, led by Sage Maurer. As with all my work, rather than looking outside for answers, I encourage you to tune into your body and your own inner guidance system.
That being said: here are four herbs that have supported me greatly during my pregnancy and are historically known to be safe during, and assist in pregnancy.
Red Raspberry Leaf
This is my first and most loved herb ally. I started working with red raspberry leaf when I moved back to Sweden in 2021 and have created a true relationship with this herb. For me it was a no-brainer to drink this herb in abundance during pregnancy. Red raspberry leaf is an astringent, meaning it causes toning of the skin cells and other tissues of the body. Red raspberry leaf works specifically on the pelvic floor and helps to strengthen the uterus, in this way assisting the efficacy of contractions during labour. During pregnancy this is also kind of like a natural multi-vitamin: chock full of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin E, as well as minerals like iron, calcium and pottasium. While many experts don't recommend consuming this herb before week 32, I drank infusion of this herb before and all throughout pregnancy and even during labour! Rumour has it, she's the reason why my labour was so short. Again, be discerning on what feels right for you.
Did your midwife or doctor also tell you that you're low on iron? Mine recommended me to take iron supplements very early on, after my labs showed "low" hemoglobin. Now, this did not sit well with me as I don't believe in quick fixes. I tried anyways, but they caused acid reflux... enter nettle. Nettle is high in many vitamins and minerals, but especially in iron, and unlike synthetic iron pills, this iron can more easily be absorbed by your body, preventing toxic iron overload. If you're vegetarian or vegan struggling with iron deficiency and anemea, this herb may just be your saviour. Along with reconsidering your diet (I've been there), but that's a whole other blog story for another time. Next to red raspberry leaf, this was my most consumed herb during pregnancy. It gives you a subtle energy boost in the morning without stressing your adrenals like caffeine does. P.S. organic beef liver supplements can also help with low iron. I stopped taking iron supplements early on in my pregnancy and drank lot's of nettle and red raspberry leaf infusions, combined with organic beef liver supplement instead. Towards the end of my pregnancy my iron level was measured again and within the healthy range.
I haven't had oatstraw in a while, because I can't find it anywhere, and gosh do I miss this lovely herb! As I am writing this I remember that I sipped on an oat straw infusion right before Malcom was born! Oat straw gave me the final softness and strength that I needed to push him out. Oat straw is soothing for the nervous system and helps with anxiety, insomnia and stress. I don't know about you, but I worked until about 3 weeks before my birth and so dealth with quite a lot on a daily (I was occasionally "busted" taking naps on my desk). I was extremely tired in the beginning, but rather than drinking coffee or black tea to give myself a boost, I tried to surrender to my tiredness. Oat straw was supportive in that process: giving my body and baby the peace and rest they so craved and deserved. Oatstraw is also moisturizing and supports lubrication of mebranes in the body. As I struggled with yeast infections, oatstraw felt soothing for my vagina. It's great to combine with nettle and/or red raspberry leaf because they can both feel a bit bitter and drying, but oatstraw softens and sweetens your infusion, making it much more enjoyable.
While I enjoyed drinking the previous three herbs throughout the day, I loved sipping on a cup of lemon balm tea in the evening. As a nervine, lemon balm supports the nervous system, helping your body to relax, as well as handle stress better. It may also help you sleep deeper and longer, especially if you make drinking a cup of lemon balm tea before bed into a little nighttime ritual. Lemon balm is also very supportive for your digestive system, which many women might appreciate during pregnancy. I just loved the fresh smell of lemon balm and for many women this is a helpful herb with nausea.
Keep in mind that it's not only the qualities of the specific herbs that is supporting your body, but also the act of interacting with the herbs: touching them, smelling them, brewing them, that is incredibly healing. While pregnancy is for many a time where we try to optimize our health through avoiding certain foods, while loading up on others, I have found that herbalism brings us a bigger message: the best thing we can do for our and baby's wellbeing, is to relax, slow down, breathe and ground ourselves, one sip at a time.
Have you tried any of these herbs? Which one do/did you feel drawn to during pregnancy? Please leave a comment down below.
May you be guided and supported by the plant world during your pregnancy!