Post-childbirth is not only a delightful time when you get to know your baby, it is also a very taxing time. Pregnancy, labour and having a newborn can feel quite overwhelming – let alone thinking about your physical recovery.
Many women have found the incorporation of plant medicine not only helps with speeding up recovery, but also supporting the nervous system through this critical time.
The safe and effective use of plant medicine has been an integral part of traditional healthcare during pregnancy, in childbirth and post-partum for thousands of years and is still highly relevant today.
In countries such as Switzerland, plant medicine is officially used in obstetric care and is regarded as the first choice in safely preventing and treating common ailments in mother and child. This foundation allows families to start assimilating useful plant medicines into their family health framework since they can be used from day one.
Specific medicinal plants I have used successfully for post-partum recovery with my clients include:
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• Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus): This medicinal plant has unique properties that help to tone the uterus and muscles of the pelvic region. Regular use during pregnancy helps to build up the strength of the uterine muscle, which supports effective uterine contractions at birth, while post-partum it supports uterine recovery and the buildup of pelvic floor strength.
• Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris): This traditional plant is taken during pregnancy to prevent spot bleeding, to strengthen and prepare the uterus for birth, and post-partum to assist recovery. As a uterine tonic it helps reduce inflammation and promote healing. It is a great remedy to help overcome incontinence after birth.
• St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Although St John's Wort is not a uterine tonic, it helps to alleviate tiredness and low moods. With respect to post-childbirth recovery it is excellent for neuralgia, sciatica and backache that is often experienced. My teacher Sister Pauline, a renowned Swiss midwife, used St. John's Wort as her number one remedy for mothers post-partum.
• Horsetail (Equisetum arvense): Horsetail is recommended due to its high silica content. It helps to strengthen ligaments and connective tissue of the uterus and urinary tract.
Taking herbs as a medicinal tea is highly beneficial as their active constituents are soluble in water and can be easily absorbed by the body. The post-partum period is busy, so making a thermos of these beneficial plants first thing in the morning (3g of herbs in 450ml of hot water) or even better, let someone else make it for you. All the above medicinal plants are suitable whilst breastfeeding, helping to nurture and nourish the mother in a time when they can feel the most overwhelmed.
• If you notice you are feeling persistently low in mood, overly exhausted or you are not healing as quickly as you thought, please consult your medical professional.