Choosing herbs for support during pregnancy is becoming much more common as a growing number of pregnant women want a natural way to nourish their bodies and their growing babies.
You'll likely hear contradictory statements surrounding using herbs for pregnancy. Some doctors won't recommend them at all because of the lack of studies done on herbal remedies and pregnancy.
Yet, herbs have been used for thousands of years by women during pregnancy and all other life stages. There is much herbal wisdom available about which ones are the most helpful and supportive (and which to avoid).
If you want to benefit from the nourishment and other health benefits herbs can provide while you're pregnant, here's a look at which ones are the most beneficial and which ones you shouldn't use.
Best Herbs for Pregnancy
This is a list of the herbs that are most often used and recommended for support during pregnancy. However, each individual is unique, and not all herbs will work the same for everyone.
You should consult with your healthcare practitioner and/or midwife to determine which ones are best for your needs.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is likely the most recommended herb for pregnancy and for women's health in general.
The leaves of the red raspberry plant are filled with nutrients like iron, calcium, and magnesium that will support your body through pregnancy. This herb is considered a uterine tonic and helps to tone the womb for giving birth. (1)
Red raspberry may also help with upset stomach and nausea during pregnancy.
While you can drink red raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy, it's especially recommended for the second and third trimesters. Try it on its own, or drink raspberry leaf in this Womb Wellness tea.
It also has a range of other nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid that nourish your body.
You'll find nettle in many pregnancy teas and in this Iron Tonic tea that's safe for replenishing iron levels during pregnancy.
Peppermint is one of the best herbs to use for nausea and other digestive complaints, which can really come in handy during pregnancy.
Peppermint leaves have been used as a remedy for indigestion since ancient times, and it's currently listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia as a remedy for morning sickness. (3) You can also get headache relief from drinking peppermint tea or using the essential oil.
In fact, you'll find peppermint leaf in this pregnancy-safe Headache Releaf tea.
Ginger is another herb with a well-known ability to ease morning sickness. If you experience a lot of nausea while pregnant, this might be an herb you always want to have on hand.
Ginger capsules have been shown to decrease nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, but there are many different ways of taking ginger. (4) It depends on what you can stomach (literally), and what works best for your body.
The fresh root can be shredded or chopped and simmered with water to make a tea. You can also try eating small amounts of crystallized ginger or ginger candies throughout the day. Or find a natural ginger ale made with real ginger and sip on it.
Alfalfa Leaf and Oatstraw
Oats are likewise naturally high in calcium and magnesium. Oatstraw tea will nourish your body during pregnancy and has a calming effect on your nervous system. It can help to relieve anxiety and stress and may help you sleep better. (7)
Other Beneficial Herbs for Pregnancy
Chamomile is one of the most used and trusted herbs in herbalism. You can use it to ease stress, calm your mind, and sleep more restfully. It's also a gentle herb to use for settling digestion and relieving nausea.
Lemon balm is a highly beneficial herb to use at any stage of life. During pregnancy it can help with stress, anxiety, better sleep, headaches, and digestion. The pleasant, lemony taste of lemon balm tea may make it easier to drink if you're dealing with nausea. (8)
Dandelion leaves and roots are rich in iron and other nutrients important for pregnant women. Dandelion root tea helps to cleanse the liver which is responsible for breaking down hormones. It can also relieve fluid retention and mild constipation.
Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy
Generally speaking, food grade herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, etc. are considered safe when used in normal amounts for cooking.
The main dangers with using certain herbs during pregnancy is when they are taken in concentrated form: tinctures, capsules, and sometimes as herbal teas. There are also certain categories of herbs that should be avoided.
Emmenagogues are herbs that stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area and uterus, which can in turn bring on delayed menstruation. However, emmenagogues can also be abortifacient and should be avoided during pregnancy. Examples include mugwort, yarrow, wormwood, pennyroyal, and rue.
Herbs that are used as stimulating laxatives should also be avoided. These include senna, Cascara sagrada, aloe, and rhubarb.
Other herbs to be cautious with are those that cause hormonal changes. Dong quai, damiana, and saw palmetto are all examples.
Finally, you will also want to avoid herbs that may stimulate the uterus. These herbs are sometimes used to help with or bring on labor, but only under the supervision of a trained midwife.They include blue and black cohosh, goldenseal, dong quai, shepherd's purse, and gotu kola.
This is not an exhaustive list, and the best thing to do is to work with your midwife or healthcare practitioner to come up with the best herbal support regimen for your needs.
Nourish Your Body With Herbs
Herbs can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that will support your body all the way through pregnancy. They can also help you with the stress, nausea, and headaches that pregnancy may throw at you.
Be sure to discuss your desire to use herbs with your doctor and/or midwife. Otherwise, you can feel confident supporting yourself with herbs as long as you avoid the ones that can be harmful.
If you'd love to have herbal support during and after pregnancy, get this Pregnancy and Postpartum set of herbal teas.