Pregnancy can bring on some really unpleasant aches, pains and reactions, but with a precious baby growing inside, or growing through your milk, should we just forego pharmaceuticals, and suffer instead? Qualified herbalist Leah Dooley of Charlotte's Apothecary shares some easily accessible herbal alternatives to those over-the-counter drugs that offer a great boost to your body, and won’t require a formal consultation or GP review.
Here are her top ten titans of herbal tea for pregnant and breastfeeding mamas:
A staple! The packet reads for sleepy time but did you know this higher level herb is amazing for tired aching feet? Consider the ache and pain gone with chamomile tea! Trouble sleeping? Chamomile to the rescue! Readily available in your local supermarket, although in low doses, simply make a chamomile tea after dinner, use two bags, let it brew for 2 minutes, and you will be drifting off in no time. When purchasing loose Chamomile from a health food shop, dried leaf or flower is the best option as it contains higher medicinal properties – and quantities!
Peppermint tea is thoroughly refreshing. If you haven’t already got some in your cupboard, chances are you’ve seen it in the supermarket aisles. Morning sickness will become a thing of the past with peppermint tea: simply make one cup in the morning and drink it on an empty stomach (no sugar!) for some sweet relief. A cup after dinner can also help you get a better night’s sleep. Peppermint leaf is fantastic in an infusion, for optimal results use one teaspoon/tea bag, brewed for 4 minutes, up to 3 times a day!
Raspberry leaf can be found in most supermarkets, or in loose leaf form from health food stores. It’s recommended that you take this tea from the second trimester, as the herb strengthens the uterus in preparation forlabour. Post-partum haemorrhage can also be prevented by taking this tea: simply pop 5grams/one tea bag into your infuser, steep for up to 3 minutes, and enjoy one cup per day until 36 weeks, then take two - or more if you can’t possibly go past 42 weeks!
Ginger tea can be quite intense on its own, especially if you’re not fond of the flavour. If you find it unpalatable, try adding lemon – it’s divine! Dried or fresh ginger can be used, and can be found in most supermarkets. If using dried, use a smaller amount - 1tsp/tea bag will do, steep for up to 4 minutes, and take twice a day before eating. Ginger is fabulous at treating nausea and upset stomachs, but it can also be great at treating exhaustion due to childbirth. Be sure to put some in your baby bag!
Also known as “Blessed Thistle” or “Our Lady’s Milk” which gives you a clue to one of its many uses – aiding the production of breast milk. An irregular period can be treated with this tea if taken in appropriate doses morning and night. To achieve the best possible results from Holy Thistle, place 4grams of the herb into your infuser, and let steep for up to 3 minutes, twice a day with food.
With its gentle and calming properties, the evening primrose can help guide you off to sleep. High blood-pressure and anxiety can also be treated with an evening primrose infusion. Its essential oil can soften the cervix in preparation for labour during the 40-week gestational mark. Infuse one teaspoon/tea bag of evening primrose and let it steep for up to 4 minutes. Drink it morning and night, with meals.
Migraines or headaches during your pregnancy or after? Feverfew tea can rid you of them. Periods can be regulated and the discomfort associated with them, easily treated. Place this tea into your baby bag as it may come in handy during a difficult birth. Feverfew can be found in loose leaf form, from most health food stores. Simply place 5grams of Feverfew into your infuser, let it steep for up to 2 minutes, and drink one cup in the morning and one at night, with meals.
Are you feeling really tired through the day? Dandelion leaf to the rescue! A fantastic all-round organ tonic, with the ability to treat water retention - no more puffy feet! Dandelion leaf can be found in most health stores. Place 6grams into your infuser, let steep for up to 3 minutes, 3 times per day with food.
Yes, the herb you have in your kitchen! Coriander can treat stomach pains and even LABOUR PAINS! Either make an infusion with 5grams of the seeds, and drink a few tablespoons with meals. Or eat a bunch of leaves, simple!
The dreaded swollen, sore breasts – arrgh! During pregnancy these pains hang around, sometimes until months after baby arrives. Alder can be found in some health stores. Use one teaspoon of bark in an infusion and let it steep for up to 5 minutes. It’s best taken in the morning.
|Leah Dooley (pictured right) runs Charlotte's Apothecary, and believes herbal medicine isn't an alternative to doctors' visits, but that it can work together with modern medicine (because after the 400th episode of Peppa Pig, she may just have a paracetamol!)|