Medicinal Herbs for a Safe Holistic Pregnancy

medicinal_herbs_for_a_safe_holistic_pregnancy

The midwives at MidWife360 in West Palm Beach, Florida have gathered our collective knowledge and experience in order to provide you with an introduction to using herbs during pregnancy.

Initial Thoughts on Modern Medicine

As a certified nurse midwife, I’m forever grateful for the medical advancements in obstetric gynecology. Thanks to these technologies, the outcomes of high-risk pregnancies and complications in birth and pregnancy have vastly improved. This has saved countless lives. 

There are two sides to every coin, and unfortunately some of these advancements have been, and are continuing to be overused. For example, about 1 in 3 women in the United States gives birth via cesarean delivery. Many experts agree that this is far too high.

Furthermore, the use of pharmaceutical medications for pregnant women is also excessive, and carries risks like cesarean deliver. Many medications that were thought to be safe, like Tylenol and common yeast infection medications, have been found to carry significant risks. 

Are Herbs Safe?

In comparison, the usage of herbs during pregnancy appears mild and safe. Just like anything, it’s important to be extra informed and safe when using any herbs or medications during pregnancy. The desire toward more natural and holistic solutions has been growing. At MidWife360 we aim to incorporate more gentle and herbal solutions whenever necessary. 

Using herbs for common pregnancy symptoms and discomforts is very commonplace. Using herbs for medicinal purposes dates back to the ancient Egyptians.  In all fairness, scientific research and formal evaluations of many herbs are not available or priority. 

However, pharmaceutical medications are often in the same boat. In the U.S. almost 90% of all pregnant women will be prescribed some kind of medication during their pregnancy. 

As far as herbal and botanical medicine, most of what we know is based on historical, empirical, and observational evidence. There have been some formal and animal studies. Generally, most herbs have no evidence of harm and natural remedies may be safer than typical prescription medications. 

Adverse effects are few and far between, and when they do happen it is often because the individual is uninformed. Some herbs can be toxic or are only appropriate in small doses. Keep in mind, many experts have different opinions on the use of herbs. Just because something does not have proven adverse effects, does not mean it is proven to be safe. 

Some symptoms or illnesses should always call for prompt medical care, and should not be treated at home with herbs. They are as follows:

  • Continuous bleeding
  • Initial herpes blisters or outbreak 
  • Serious pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Continuous serious mid-back pain
  • Hand and face edema
  • Membranes rupture before 37 weeks
  • Regular contractions before 37 weeks
  • Serious headaches, blurred vision, and epigastric pain
  • Fetal movement stopping

Commonly Used Herbs in Pregnancy

There are different lists and opinions among medical professionals. Some of the most common herbs used for pregnancy concerns are: raspberry leaf, evening primrose, garlic, aloe, chamomile, peppermint, ginger, echinacea, St. John’s wort, fennel, wild yam, meadowsweet, pumpkin seeds and ginseng. 

Common ailments pregnant women seek complimentary or natural remedies for are anxiety, nausea or vomiting, urinary tract problems, or lower GI problems. 

This chart is a helpful tool but always work with your doctor or midwife to be safe. The midwives at MidWife360 are well-versed in the safety and use of herbal remedies. 

Herbs for Birth Preparation

Red raspberry leaf tea and red dates are common for birth preparation. Two cups of red raspberry tea daily is safe in pregnancy. 

Additionally, studies have shown the tea causes labor to be more comfortable and reduces need for medical interventions. There are even benefits for babies! Newborns are less likely to require resuscitation. 

Red dates consumed regularly in the last trimester are safe, and also cause labor to be more comfortable. 

The good news is, both the tea and dates are delicious. Making it easy to incorporate into your daily diet and routine. This vegan red raspberry tea latte is a great way to enjoy the tea. Snacking on dates by themselves or adding a few in a smoothie is an easy way to eat them. 

Final Thoughts

Herbal remedies can offer significant relief and benefits for some common discomforts and symptoms of pregnancy and childbirth. Just like anything during pregnancy, use herbs with caution and under the supervision of your midwife or doctor. 

At MidWife360 in West Palm Beach, Florida we offer herbal recommendations for our patients when needed. Though nothing can replace a healthy diet, exercise, positive mindset, and support system. 

Headaches During Pregnancy

headaches_during_pregnancy

Headaches are one of the most common discomforts during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimester. As a pregnant woman, our bodies go through so much physical and mental change. During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences changes in hormone levels and heightened blood volume. These changes can trigger more frequent headaches. Other triggers can also bring on headaches like stress, dehydration, lack of sleep and not having your normal cup of joe each morning.  

Unfortunately, when most will gravitate towards using over the counter headache medication, pregnant women are normally hesitant. If you are experiencing severe or frequent headaches, always consult with your doctor. There are different types of headaches that you may experience during your pregnancy. Continue reading to learn more about these and how you can treat these headaches in the safest way for you and your baby. 

Different Types of Headaches

More times than not, the headaches women may experience during pregnancy are primary headaches, meaning that the pain doesn’t come from another underlying issue. Experiencing these during pregnancy are common and should not bring alarm. Letting your doctor know you are frequently experiencing headache pain is important to find out what can best help relieve your discomfort. 

 The three most common types of headaches experienced during pregnancy are:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Sinus headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache you will experience. This can be brought on by stress, hunger or if you are carrying tension in your neck and shoulders. When suffering from a tension headache, you may experience mild or moderate dull pain behind the eyes on both sides of the head. Oftentimes, tension headaches will go away within an hour or two. 

Migraines are a more intense sensation of pain that throbs, and can be felt on one side of the head and neck. These types of headaches tend to last for hours and sometimes days. Migraines can also bring on other symptoms like blurred vision, light sensitivity, numbness and nausea. 

Lastly, some women can experience sinus headaches during pregnancy. With a sinus headache, women will experience intense pressure around the eyes, cheeks and forehead area. These types of headaches can also trigger a stuffy nose and occur when someone has a sinus infection. Like migraines, these headaches get worse with more movement and light exposure. 

Is Tylenol Safe?

When most people experience headaches or muscle pain, oftentimes, without second thought, they grab a bottle of Tylenol to relieve this pain. Tylenol contains the drug acetaminophen or paracetamol. Most doctors recommend the use of Tylenol rather than other over the counter medications like Ibuprofen and Aspirin. If your doctor recommends the use of Tylenol during your pregnancy to relieve headache pain, it is important to only take the dose recommended. 

Due to the fact that you are now fueling two bodies, many pregnant women choose to take the holistic route. They make healthy changes in their diet and exercise habits to ensure the health of their baby throughout their pregnancy. Oftentimes, women choose to opt out from putting things like Tylenol into their bodies to stay as natural as possible, but what are alternative options to dealing with the pain?

What Are Safe/Holistic Remedies? 

Many people choose to avoid medication if they can, especially women who are pregnant. What happens when a pesky headache comes on and the pain is not bearable? Here are some home remedies that can help relieve headache pain without all the pills. 

  • Lying in a dark room with eyes closed and minimal light
  • Cold compress over eyes and neck
  • Heating pad/ steam to relieve any pain
  • Drinking plenty of water and eating enough protein
  • Getting an ample amount of sleep 
  • Taking a warm bath with Epsom salt
  • Essential oils
  • Drinking tea (without caffeine) 
  • Meditation
  • Pregnancy massages 

These home remedies are known to help relieve headaches whether you are pregnant or not. If your pain becomes more severe or too frequent, consult with your doctor or OBGYN and discuss what the best and healthiest options are. If you are looking for holistic gynecology and pregnancy services, including home birth and water birth in South Florida, visit Midwife 360 for all of your questions and needs.