Hey Mama to be
It might be that since you realised you were growing a tiny human you got more conscious of what put on and IN your body. Ditching the booze was a no brainer, You scale back your caffeine intake and give a bit more thought to what you want to eat – it’s normal to feel like you want to eat more foods that are closer to nature (and cake, that goes without saying in pregnancy)
But then all those crazy changes in your body, the heartburn, the sleepless nights, the cramps….what to do?!
Well, good news, it’s more than Hypnobirthing on this blog! And we have a special guest this week! I caught up with fellow Leyton local Medical herbalist Sonya Elnaschie of Hawthorn Integrated to get the lowdown on herbs. She has put together some top tips about herbs for Mamas that find themselves drawn to more holistic treatments. Even though herbs are natural, you still need to be cautious. And even more so in pregnancy.
If you have any medical conditions or ANY take medication, it is always best to consult a trained medical herbalist before taking any herbs.
Hey Sonya. Can you tell us A little bit about what you do?
I work in East London as Physiotherapist and Medical Herbalist. I have a special interest in women’s’ health and paediatrics as I believe the best gift you can give a child is a healthy start in life.
People come to see me about all sorts of things, after an initial consultation I make bespoke herbal preparations for my clients. These come in different forms such as infusions (like tea), tinctures, powders, tablets, and creams.
One of the great things about herbs is that one herb can often have a variety of different actions making them super handy when you’ve got a few different things going on.
Great! Super interesting
Can you tell us some of your top herbs for some of the more common pregnancy issues? If I had to pick, The top things that women say they struggle with in my pregnancy yoga class would be heartburn, anxiety and cramps during the night.
Sure let’s start with digestive discomfort, there are 3 things I would suggest.
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This has to be one of the most well-known herbs around and for good reason. Chamomile is beautiful, daisy like plant that is a digestive wonder. As well as aiding with digestion by gently stimulating the liver, chamomile has an anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive system and can relieve stomach cramps, wind and indigestion. It has the added benefit of being a mild sedative so aids with anxiety and insomnia. It is also safe during breastfeeding and for children. People who are allergic to daisies (plants from Asteraceae family) should avoid chamomile.
- Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
This is the star of my tummy tea for people who are experiencing heartburn. It has a mild antacid effect as well as being anti-inflammatory. This work best when drunk throughout the day as a tea but if you forget, a cup before bed will still help. If you have salicylate sensitivity, avoid this herb.
- Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
No, not the fluffy white sweet but the plant! Marshmallow is another great digestive herb that is very soothing to the digestive system.
Whole herbs (rather than powdered tea bags), tend to be better quality products as the action of grinding many herbs leads to them losing some of their potency but if tea bags are easier they are still a good option. For best results, combine the above herbs (1 teaspoon or 1 tea bag of each) per 300ml boiling water and drink 2-3 times a day.
Moving on to anxiety, stress or inability to switch off which are all common causes of insomnia in pregnancy. I have a few suggestions here too.
- Oat seed or oat straw (Avena sativa)
As well as being full of nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins which are all important for expectant mums, oat seed and straw is a tonic for the nervous system and has a calming effect which can aid with sleep.
- Linden or lime tree blossom (Tilia sp.)
This goes into my relax tea as it is great for anxiety and nervous tension. Linden also has a beautiful delicate flavour, which is very uplifting.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate)
Passionflower has a long tradition of being used as a sleep aid, which is still it’s primary use for today as well as being a decorative and aromatic garden plant. Passionflower is commonly available as an extract as well as a tea.
Combine these herbs as above in a tea or take the passionflower extract as per product instructions.
Lastly then for cramps.
Muscle cramps are frequently associated with mineral depletion or electrolyte imbalances, which can be common in pregnancy as your body adjusts to the new demands being placed upon it.
- Oat seed & straw (Avena sativa)
Remember when I said oat straw & seeds are full of vitamins and minerals? Well for that very reason, it may be helpful in reducing muscle cramps.
- Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
As the name suggests, this herb is used to reduce muscle cramps and is available as an extract. The strength of herbal extracts varies with manufacturers so follow your product guidelines.
Wow. Thanks for all that Sonya it’s all absolutely fascinating stuff and great to know that there are so many options for pregnant women!
For more information on Sonya and what she does, visit www.hawthornintegrated.com
if you are lucky enough to be reading this before the 21st April and want to know more, then you can check out Sonya’s’ talk all about herbs at our hypnobirthing home Lo Walthamstow.