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USEFUL HERBS DURING PREGNANCY

Pregnancy, the miracle of creation, is a time when many women make lifestyle changes. It is time when they seek natural body care without preservatives or synthetic fragrances. A time they choose to eat nutritious, pesticide-free food to support and nurture themselves and their growing baby. There are also several herbs, safely used by pregnant women for generations, which are an excellent source for the increased vitamins and minerals needed at this time. These herbs can easily be made into teas and incorporated into meals on a regular basis. Every person is different, and your body may react differently now to foods than it did previously. But used wisely and in moderation, these herbs make wonderful teas and foods.

Raspberry leaf is the best known herb to strengthen the uterine muscles so they work more efficiently during labor. Drink raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy with its easily assimilated content of calcium and magnesium to relieve leg cramps. Also high in iron, the leaves and berries help prevent anemia. Raspberry leaf soothes an upset stomach and will help alleviate mild morning sickness. Taken after birth, it slows bleeding, helps the uterus regain tone, and increases breast milk.

Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with its high iron and calcium content, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. And because nettle also strengthens veins, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Postpartum, it increases breast milk. Nettle tea has a rich, green taste and can be mixed with other herbs. Cooked nettle is a mineral rich substitute for spinach and an excellent side dish with a dash of lemon juice and sesame seeds. Try substituting nettle in lasagna. Pick it fresh from spring until mid summer, but be sure to wear gloves to protect your skin. Its nickname is "stinging nettle", but this sting disappears when cooked. I usually pick some extra to freeze and have on hand for the winter months.

Oats, another herb high in calcium and magnesium, builds healthy bones and nourishes the nervous system. This is the perfect herb to relieve nervous exhaustion and allow for relaxed rest when sleep is difficult. An easy way to incorporate the healing power of oats, and its high fiber content, is to eat oatmeal cereal in the morning, along with oatmeal bread. Oatstraw tea has a mild flavor that can be used alone or mixed with other herbs. And a warm oatmeal bath is not only relaxing, it softens skin and relieves the itch of a growing belly.

Dandelion root tea increases digestion and promotes bile to relieve constipation. It is one of the best herbs for cleansing and strengthening the liver, our main detoxifying organ. The liver breaks down hormones no longer needed by the body after birth, and any drugs that may have been given at birth. Containing calcium and iron, roasted dandelion root's coffee like flavor, is an excellent morning beverage. Add a handful of the fresh leaves, high in vitamin A, to other greens in salads. Drink dandelion leaf tea if a diuretic is needed to relieve fluid retention. Because of its high potassium content, it does not deplete the body of this important mineral, as other diuretics are known to do.

Alfalfa, with its deep root system, contains many essential nutrients including trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to aid blood clotting and decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging. Add alfalfa sprouts to salads. Alfalfa also increases breast milk- alfalfa hay is fed daily to milking goats and other dairy animals.

These common herbs are available in most natural health food stores and are well worth using for their packed nutritional support during these special months of nurturing mother and child.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intendedto diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. If you are taking any medication or areunder treatment for any disease, please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possiblecomplications before taking any of these products. If you are pregnant or lactating, please consult with your health careprofessional before taking any medication or dietary supplements.


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