Herbal Medicine for Postpartum Healing and Lactation Support

Red Raspberry,  Rubus idaeus

Red Raspberry, Rubus idaeus

There is a sacred gateway between giving birth, and entering the massive, high demand, real world as a Mother. This precious postpartum gateway time is one to be honored with respect, rest and great nourishment. It is a beautiful time of vulnerability, asking for help, breaking down, soring triumphantly and using the medicines of the Earth to support your healing and simultaneous opening, as you bloom wider and more expansive than you ever conceived possible. 

How you nourish yourself in the precious transitional period will set the stage for the rest of your parenting journey. This requires planning ahead to create your nook space of rest and relaxation, setting boundaries for visitors and duties, calling on your most loved and helpful friends and family to help feed and nourish you, your family and your home.

While nutrition and what your meals will consist of, is extremely important, I will cover that in a later post. Here I feel inspired to share with you several beautiful plant allies to keep close to your home and heart as you take your first wobbly steps as a new mother. These herbs cover everything from keeping healing warmth in your womb, restoring and revamping your bodies vitamin and mineral supply, calming your frazzled new mommy nervesto supporting your miracle of milk production.  At the bottom of this post are some simple recipes to gift your body with these powerful earth medicines.

 

  • Red Raspberry

 

This herb is an age old remedy for all things Womb health. Menstruating women, pregnant women, menopausal women, havebeen urged to include Red raspberry leaf in their Herbal Repertoire for centuries.

 

This beautiful plant ally is a uterine muscle tonic, meaning that it will help re-tone your uterus after being stretched at the seems for 9 months, and most recently, running the marathon of labor. Red raspberry leaf is also a stypic, used for all manner of bleeding and particularly useful for excessive postpartum hemorrhaging. Bleeding after birth is perfectly common and normal, and is actually helpful as you release the huge surge of blood supply you created to nourish your baby. This process is one of the beautiful ways the Female bodies detoxifies itself. That being said, excess loss of anything is not helpful, and Red Raspberry can help keep that from becoming a problem. 

This plant ally is rich in magnesium and calcium, two vital minerals usually depleted in the heroic act of childbirth. She also contains special flavonoids that support the immune system, and help balance excessive inflammation. Red raspberry is a very safe herb, with a beautiful maternal spirit and can be drank as a tea several times daily to restore balance to your mineral levels and uterine tone while energetically supporting you during this sacred transition.

 

  • Fenugreek

 

A golden seed with a sweet maple syrup smell that has been used traditionally as a galactagogue, or an herb that supports milk production in breast feeding Mammas! Recent studies published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary medicine have examined its effect on milk production and infant weight gain pattern and results show that it is a beneficial herb to take to both increase milk production and to enhance infant weight gain in the early postpartum days. Fenugreek has also been used to balance and regulate metabolic disorders and hyperglycemia. If you tend towards low blood sugar, I might advice using smaller doses of this herb, although your body will know if it is not working with you. Fenugreek is a very popular herb these days and you can find capsules on the shelf in many health food stores, so remain cautious around the sources, purity, freshness and sustainability of the brand you choose (Hint: Make your own medicines! Fresh herb guarantees quality!)

 

  • Milk thistle

Just as the name and beautiful face of this plant may imply, she supports milk production! In herbalism, there is an idea called the Doctrine of Signatures which says that whatever an herb resembles, may be what it is useful to treat or promote. So the white milky lines of the leaves told our ancestors long ago to use this herb with new moms to amp up their milk supply! Amazingly, this herb is also an alterative, meaning it supports liver detox pathways, which is an important part of degrading the excess hormones of pregnancy and the other moon mysteries of Womanhood which can help with symptoms of hormone imbalance both during and after pregnancy (Hint: Mood swings!) Milk thistle is best to take in powdered or capsule form, or can be included in a tea formula. Its quite bitter so it will need some pungent and thoughtful pairing in a tea!

 

  • Shatavari

Shatavari, which is a sanskrit word for, "She with 1000 husbands", is a powerful ayruvedic root medicine for all things Wombans wellness. She regulates and balances hormones and the natural cycles of the Womb and she heals the digestive tract, which is very important during the post partum period, as it has become fragile after so many adjustments in the abdomen. Shatavari is also a powerful ally in maintaining a relationship with sensuality and sanity, as she supports the adrenal glands, nervous system and acts as an aphrodisiac. She also contains proteins, vitamins and minerals that nourish the sometimes depleted body of a new mother. Traditionally, the root was juiced and the liquid medicine was mixed with milk and honey to create a warm, sweet and nourishing elixir! Although this sounds delicious, it is difficult to get fresh shatavari root here in America, and we might have to settle for buying capsules or glycerites! Shatavari is an amazing plant medicine to not only start taking after birth, but to continue taking perhaps even up until after menopause. The amazing female body is so nourished and supported by this herb, it just seems silly not to!

 

  • Fennel, Nettles and Ginger

These amazing herbs are needed by the body in the abundance that they are provided by the Earth, and that is a lot! These are foods and powerful medicines. Where I live in the PNW, fennel grows on every street, poking her umbel face through concrete as she reaches toward the sun. She supports milk production, eases gas pains after cesarean births, and supports digestion in the already sensitive gut of a new mother. Her taste makes her into a delicious tea or an addition to the main course of any meal.

Ginger is very important to include in the diet of a new mother. The main reason is because of its heating quality, it is said to stoke the fire of the body to prevent what Chinese Medicine refers to as Wind, Chill and Dampness, to settle in the open and vulnerable womb. It is very important to keep postpartum wombs protected and warm, and using ginger laden foods and teas plus a well tended to (thanks support team!) hot rice pack is an excellent way to achieve this. This warmness ensures that blood will continue to flow to the womb to promote the healing and detoxifying nature of this recovery period. Not only does ginger keep heat in the womb, but it also stokes the fire of the digestive system that is needed to break down and absorb important nutrients. If none of these other herbs seem doable for you, choose ginger! It makes a delicious tea, honey infusion and soup!

Nettles are another miracle of a plant, and are not in short supply in these parts during fall and spring months! Nettle's growing habits mirror their nutritive qualities, showing up in absolutely abundance! As a plant ally, she is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and flavonoids, to restore a depleted system and bring the vitality of her greenness into all who consume her! She stabilizes the immune system, flushes out excess fluids (that may have accumulated in your ankles during late pregnancy or labor) and calms excess inflammation. She is one of the most nutrient dense plants out there in our forests, and happens to make a delicious pesto! What a gift!

All of these herbs and plant medicines are relatively accessible, and can be consumed in the simplest ways possible. That may be ordering a glycerite product from Pharmherbs website, or going to your local wholefoods to find capsules of a trusted source of fenugreek, or placing an amazon order for bulk herbs to make a tea,  or even just requesting a beloved friend to bring you a massive knob of ginger (and a bowl of freshly harvested nettles- depending on where you are and how awesome your friends are!)

Below are some simple ways to get these beloved herbs into your morphing, yet again, and beautiful body.

 

Nettle and Fennel Tea:

 

1 cup dried nettle leaves

1/4 cup fennel seed

 

Boil 6 cups of water, add herbs, simmer for 20 minutes and strain. Add honey to taste and drink hot!

 

Red raspberry infusion:

 

1 cup red raspberry leaves

4 cups boiling water

 

Place together in jar, cap tightly and let infuse for 6 hours (overnight- so it is ready in the morning!)

Add sprinkle of cinnamon and cardamom before drinking! (More warming herbs, please!)

 

Nettle Pesto:

(great topping to a hearty soup, or to mix in a simple broth. I recommend making this during your third trimester- If nettles are in season- and storing in the freezer)

 

4 cups fresh nettle leaves (blanched in hot water)

1 cup fresh lemon balm (amazing calming nourishment for the nervous system)

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 crushed garlic clover

1/4 cup olive oil (plus more, if needed to blend)

1/4 cup walnuts

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

 

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth!

 

Ginger Decoction

 

1 large, thumb pieced ginger knob, thinly sliced

1 cup of water

 

Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Add hot hemp or oat milk, 1 tbsp honey, and some cinnamon, stir vigorously until frothy, for a warming, creamy beverage.

 

There is an amazing book by Heng Ou, titled The First Forty Days, which goes into beautiful detail about this important postpartum transition. I encourage every expecting Mother, partner and family member to read it. Her book and my affair and knowledge with herbal wisdom inspired me to share this warming nourishment with you all. My hope is that it inspires you to look deeper into the power and potential of your gateway between Birth and Mothering in this massively intense and beautiful world.

 

Shatavari : She with 1000 Husbands 

Shatavari : She with 1000 Husbands 

Green Blessings to all.