Pregnant women have a wide variety of symptoms that are uncomfortable prior to and during childbirth, including nausea, fatigue, vomiting, constipation, etc. Are there natural treatments, life-style changes, exercises, and herbal remedies that can alleviate these symptom? Which treatments are safest for the unborn child? Are there herbs that are unsafe and should be avoided? What does the latest research tell us about herbal remedies and diet during pregnancy?
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY?
The human body goes through a metamorphosis during the nine months of pregnancy. Women’s bodies are constantly changing and adapting to the symptoms that arise with the growing fetus inside the uterus. Mayo Clinic (2015) provides a list of the common symptoms associated with pregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms include, but are limited, to the following:
- Tender swollen breasts
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Increased urination
- Food aversions or cravings
- Slight vaginal bleeding
- Mood swings
HOW CAN HERBAL REMEDIES HELP?
Pregnancy symptoms can be difficult to handle for some women. In those instances, over-the-counter or prescribed medicine from a health professional may be utilized. Woman may also seek herbal remedies to aid with their harsh pregnancy symptoms. Herbal remedies can provide additional nutrients for the pregnant woman and her growing baby.
IT’S WISE TO BE CAUTIOUS
Since everything women eat is also being consumed by the fetus growing inside of the uterus, it’s important to seek the advice from a medical professional before trying any herbal remedies during pregnancy. It’s not recommended to take any kind of herbal supplements or medicine during the first trimester of pregnancy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (2013),
“unlike prescription drugs, natural herbs and vitamin supplements do not go through the same scrutiny and evaluation process by the FDA”.
It’s wise to be cautious when it comes to herbal remedies in general, especially during pregnancy. Not all herbs are safe to consume. Some may cause miscarriage, premature labor, and/or abdominal pain. Injury to the fetus is possible. The US Food and Drug Administration has a rating system for herbs during pregnancy. The rating system consists of these categories: likely safe, possibly safe, and likely unsafe during pregnancy.The American Pregnancy Association (2015) lists the herbs that are likely safe or possibly safe during pregnancy.
SAFE HERBS FOR USE DURING PREGNANCY
Red Raspberry Leaf– Rich in iron, this herb has helped tone the uterus, increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains
Peppermint Leaf – Helpful in relieving nausea/morning sickness and flatulence
Ginger root – Helps relieve nausea and vomiting
Slippery Elm Bark – (when the inner bark is used orally in amounts used in foods) Used to help relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritations
Oats & Oat Straw – Rich in calcium and magnesium; helps relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin
Dandelion – Rich in Vitamin A, calcium, and iron; dandelion root and leaf can also help relieve mild edema and nourish the liver
Chamomile (German) – High in calcium and magnesium; also helps with sleeplessness and inflammation of joints
Nettles (Stinging Nettles) – High in vitamins A, C, K calcium, potassium, and iron. Used in many pregnancy teas because it is a great all around pregnancy tonic.
DRINKING HERBAL TEAS
Herbal teas such as raspberry, peach, lemon or peppermint are safe to drink during pregnancy. Not only is drinking herbal tea soothing for the mind and body, but the teas offer a good source of vitamin and minerals for the mother-to-be and baby.
WHICH HERBS SHOULD BE AVOIDED?
Some herbal remedies to avoid during pregnancy include ginger, jasmine, aloe vera, caraway, celery seed, chamomile, oregano, nutmeg, and passion flower. If taken in large amounts, these herbs can cause early contractions, miscarriage, or premature labor. This is not a complete list of herbal remedies of which to be cautious. For more information, individual research can be reviewed to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, and always consult with a trusted family doctor or health practitioner.
American Pregnancy Association. (2013). Herbs and Pregnancy: What are the risks?. Herbs and Pregnancy. Retrieved March 19, 2015
Deep Roots at Home. (2015). Red Raspberry Leaf/Pregnancy Herb-Collect Now, Pt. 1. Retrieved March 19, 2015
Food Safety Information Council. (2015). What is listeria? Listeria and Pregnancy, the Elderly and People with Weakened Immune Systems. Retrieved March 19, 2015
Mayo Clinic. (2015). Classic Symptoms of Pregnancy. Symptoms of Pregnancy: What happens right away. Retrieved March 19, 2015
Simpson et al., “Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy: Its Safety and Efficacy in Labor,” Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 46, no. 2 (March–April 2001): 51–59
This article is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com. All images are copyright free, from www.pixabay.com unless otherwise noted.
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