Herbs in pregnancy
Herbal remedies are for the most part quite safe to be taken during pregnancy; some are useful alternatives to drugs both in chronic illness and for acute minor problems that may arise during pregnancy.
Caution It is still preferable to take no medication whatsoever in the first three months, unless there is a specific problem that needs treatment. There are herbs that should never be taken in pregnancy because in large amounts they can cause uterine contractions and thereby risk miscarriage. Always check the herbs you wish to take are safe for pregnant women.
Herbs which are safe to take in culinary doses but not as a medicine during pregnancy: Celery seed, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, saffron.
Many herbs can simply be prepared at home, but do consult a qualified medical herbalist if you need reassurance. As a general rule, a tea is made from a few teaspoons of the dried herb in boiling water; a decoction is made by boiling a beneficial root or bark and drinking the resulting liquid and a tincture is a pre- prepared, concentrated liquid form of the herb that is taken a few drops/millilitres at a time. A good book to have at hand is, ‘The complete Woman’s Herbal – a manual of healing herbs and nutrition for personal wellbeing and family care,’ by Anne McIntyre. She is the herbalists’ herbalist and well-respected throughout the profession. Much of the information on herbalism in my blogs comes from her book.
Aromatherapy in pregnancy
It is advisable not to massage essential oils or place essential oils in the bath for the first three months of pregnancy. Always check that an essential oil is safe in pregnancy. Julia Lawless, an aromatherapist who has written several books, is always reliable and Purple Flame, a good quality essential oil supplier, will always give you good advice over the phone. Never use oils without diluting them in a base oil (usually almond or grape seed oil). The general rule for none pregnant users is 12 drops of essential oils to 30 ml of base oil. In pregnancy use a smaller proportion of essential oils (about 6 drops essential oil/ 30 ml base oil). If putting oils in the bath or foot bath mix a maximum of 6 drops in a little base oil or milk before adding to the water. When vaporizing oils, add 6 drops of essential to hot water and place the dish over the burner.
Bach flower Remedies: Very helpful for emotional transitions. Rescue Remedy, a combination of remedies, is a key player in keeping calm at times of stress. Good for both mother and partner throughout labour and birth. Add a few drops to a glass or bottle of water and sip regularly.
Acupuncture: Helps most problems in pregnancy and is useful as an aid to childbirth.
Reflexology: Helps most problems in pregnancy.
Chiropractor / Osteopathy/ Bowen: These therapies can help many back and joint problems.
Massage therapy: A well-trained and experienced massage therapist that has specialised in pregnancy massage will be able to help alleviate muscle aches and tensions. A good massage therapist will help you relax, sleep better, enhance the general well-being and the immune system of you and your baby, and give advice on beneficial exercises you can do at home. They should also be able to advise you on pain relieving massage techniques for your partner to help you in pregnancy and labour.