6 Herbs for Postpartum Support
In many cultures, herbs have a long history of use for supporting women during the postpartum period. For example, herbs are used to stave off infections, fight colic, reduce bleeding and pain from cramping, soothe and heal the perineal area, increase breast milk production, and for relaxation as well as nourishment for both mother and baby. Nervines and adaptogenic herbs are excellent for supporting a mother’s physical and emotional health. These herbs can provide much needed support for the nervous system in cases of fatigue, physical exertion, weakness, and prolonged stress. They can also help to restore vitality and promote mental clarity. Here is a list of some of my favorite stress fighting herbs that are safe to take while breastfeeding.
Milky Oats (Avena sativa): A nourishing tonic for the nervous system, rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Oats have relaxing properties and are specific for nervous debility and exhaustion. Best taken for many months in the form of a tincture, take 1 tsp three times daily in water.
Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera): An Ayurvedic herb used to help the body adapt to stress. This adaptogen supports the adrenals as well as the immune system. It is also best taken for many months and it is recommended that you take 1 tsp of tincture twice daily in water.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): This herb helps to relieve spasms in the digestive tract and has uplifting properties. It is also considered a tonic herb that helps to restore nervous system health. It makes a pleasant tasting tea. Steep 2 tsp of lemon balm for 5-10 minutes and enjoy.
Nettles (Urtica dioica): This herb is very nutritive and contains trace minerals and vitamins, such as iron, potassium and silica. It strengthens and supports the whole body and is useful in cases of anemia and fatigue. Steep 1-2 tsp of nettle leaf for 10 minutes. Drink a cup of nettle tea three times daily.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): This is a wonderfully relaxing herb for both mother and baby. It is especially helpful in cases of anxiety and tension along with digestive complaints such as gas pains. Chamomile makes a very nice tea that can be enjoyed throughout the day as well as before bed to promote sleep. Steep 2 tsp of chamomile flowers for 5-10 minutes.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): Skullcap can be used for both short or long-term support for exhaustion. It strengthens the nervous system, reduces tension and irritability, and promotes restful sleep. Take 1 tsp of skullcap tincture three times daily.
Article written by Margo Gladding, MS, CNS, LDN for Ellicott City Pharmacy.