Navigating Pregnancy as an Herbalist
Just like any person pregnant for the first time, I was surprised, delighted, and sometimes annoyed by the vast amount of new bodily experiences that come with pregnancy. Reading about pregnancy is one thing, but to experience it is a whole other situation. The focus of this blog is to address uncomfortable situations that may arise in pregnancy, and how I navigated them. There were far more joys that discomforts in my pregnancy!
All of the information provided is simply to share my experience. None of the information provided is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or heal disease. Always speak with your healthcare practitioner, and do your own dutiful research before working with any herbs.
Um wow. Waking up in the middle of the night yelling cuss words at the ceiling? Not my cup of tea. Leg cramps are normal in pregnancy, although no amount of telling me that's normal made it feel any better. Calcium, Potassium & Magnesium are going to be your go-to's around bed time. Here's what I did to mitigate those pesky leg cramps!
-Magnesium Rosa Mist along calves & feet at night time. At first, this is going to tingle or burn a bit, but once body adjusts, this subsides.
-Nettle Tea. Nettle is indicated in many pregnancy circles for helping leg cramps. It works and I love it.
-Bananas. Easy! I added an extra banana into my morning protein shake. For some reason, I can't get myself to eat a banana anytime of day but morning, but if you like bananas, eat one before bed.
-Apple Cider Vinegar. I added a tsp to water & took like a shot, or added some to a bit of juice.
-Stretching & Massage. Self explanatory ;)
There's really only so much one can do to prevent stretch marks, and they are often inevitable. Stretch marks occur when skin must expand rapidly, and there is a breakdown of collagen and elastin.
For one, increasing vitamin C rich foods is crucial. Vitamin C is a building block of collagen! Consuming collagen in the form of bone broth or a supplement are also great. I personally love to consume my collagen through food, but collagen powder in a smoothie won't hurt.
Topically, it's mostly about mitigating discomfort. Apply a mist like Earth Essence or Magnesium Rosa to skin, and seal in with a rich butter like Botanical Butter. Or skip the mist and apply butter directly to skin right out of the shower. This can reduce the itchiness of skin expansion, and keep your belly as comfortable as possible during the transitions!
-Witch hazel. Soak a cotton pad with witch hazel and apply to affected area often throughout the day. This speeds up recovery while easing symptoms
Ugh. I injured my back during my second trimester, which was a total buzz kill. Once I finally recovered from that, I'm left with your typical pregnancy back pain. My biggest help?
Massage- Getting a prenatal massage from a place you trust (and once approved by your healthcare provider) can really help release tension. Of course Magnesium Rosa Mist, Gua Sha with Bodywork Oil & Stretching helped too, but massage made the biggest difference.
Pilates Ball - Moving those hips around felt like I was greasing my joints. 10/10 recommend getting one
Pregnancy Pillow - Thought this was overhyped until my husband got me one. Say helloooo to side sleeping this trimester. The pregnancy pillow is a big boy in the bed, but once you adjust to the human size pillow, it's quite amazing.
Not fun. If embracing these wakeful hours isn't your cup of tea, trust me, I get it. This one is tough for me, as I am still navigating how to cope with mid-night wake ups.
I have no issue falling asleep initially, but waking up at 2 am, my mind is wide awake. Due to the passionflower in our Lay Low tincture, it is contraindicated during pregnancy. What I do instead is brew a cup of strong Chamomile tea (two or three bags) and sip that out of bed until I feel drowsy. I like to sip tea out of bed, and relax on the couch before climbing back into bed.
During the day, finding moments to rest can help reset a disrupted nervous system. Rest doesn't necessarily mean napping, but even finding moments to relax. So much energy is being used to grow a baby, be gentle with yourself.
If you are pregnant, or interested in tending to pregnant people- I definitely suggest Grandma's Hands: Pregnancy & Postpartum Herbs and
Nutrition in the Southern Tradition workshop and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and for post partum: Build Your Nest, Postpartum Care Workbook and The First Forty Days,
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