Tag Archives: Pregnancy
Video: In this informational video from Beeyoutiful Views, Steph gives some tips on reducing stretch marks.
Video: In this short video clip, Steph demonstrates her way of taking Chlorophyll and explains its benefits of use during pregnancy.
This short clip from Beeyoutiful Views shows Steph Tallent talking about how to use Red Raspberry Leaf in preperation for pregnancy.
For Mom’s to Be
By Mary Ewing
When I married seven years ago, I was almost 26, and my husband and I knew we didn’t want to wait to have children. Although many women have children after thirty, we both wanted a large family and weren’t sure how long our “child-bearing years” would go on. Even so, we were slightly surprised when just six weeks after the wedding we found ourselves expecting our first child. Excitement filled our house! To add to our own joy, this would be the first grandchild for both his parents and mine.
At this time, I was a practicing registered nurse (I have since retired to be a mom). Although I did not work in obstetrics, I have always been fascinated with the study. Yet despite the fact that I had scored a perfect 100 ranking among my peers that year in the OB/GYN nationals competencies. I understood little about the importance of preparing to be a mom. I knew I needed to take a prenatal vitamin once the pink line appeared on the pregnancy test. I knew the importance of Folic Acid. I knew I needed to generally take care of myself. But I did nothing to really prepare for pregnancy.
My pre-pregnancy diet consisted largely of fast food, meals from a box, and sodas. I had done nothing to eliminate my chronic gut problems, build nutritional storehouses, or make sure my body was in shape for the miraculous event. Due to work hours during pregnancy, my entire day’s nutrition consisted of an orange for breakfast, half a sub sandwich for lunch , and half for dinner (and when I say sub, I mean a foot-long white bread sandwich with nothing but processed cold cuts, American cheese and jalapeno peppers.) I washed that all down with the largest cherry limeade I could buy, because it had to last my entire shift-a healthier choice, I figured since it did not have caffeine. I often went an entire week without a real meat, fresh vegetable, and whole grains.
My bouts with morning sickness-to the point of throwing up-lasted from early in the pregnancy until three days after my baby was born. Along with my second pregnancy, came nine months of migraine headaches and then my son’s chronic health issues. I finally decided there had to be a better way to do pregnancy! The challenges have leg me to some fascinating ingredients that make for a healthier momma and, therefore, a healthier baby.
Our health is a gift, not just from the Creator, but also from our parents. The health of our parents when they brought us into the world plays a large role in determining what our level of health will be. Likewise, your health plays a major role in your children’s health.
People generally assume that most health issues depend on the genes we pass on-that they determine what makes us more or less vulnerable to various diseases and health conditions. Typically, we do not make the connection that we directly pass on to our children a reflection of our own health. As a result, our children often suffer from the same digestive, immune, and chronic health issues that we do-not just because of genes but also because of how we care for ourselves. It should not be a surprise that your child is colicky if you have had problems with your digestion. So before you think about having a baby, you should first rebuild and restore your own health. Not only will you be passing on to them a head start in health, but the habits you develop will benefit them throughout life.
Getting Your Gift in Shape
The place to start building your health is with your diet-your nutritional lifestyle. Nutrients are the building blocks of cells, and it is vital to take in nutrients that build healthy cells. Diets full of healthy fats, grass-fed and organic proteins, fermented foods, properly prepared grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables are vital. While there are several very good diet suggestions out there, I recommend Diet for Pregnancy and Nursing Mothers (http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/311-diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers.html) , published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. It offers great guidance for nourishing your body and preparing the inner stores necessary for pregnancy.
While most people recognize the need for protein, iron, and vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, it is only recently becoming known that healthy fats are needed as well. A British publication noted that for a healthy reproductive systems, a woman needs 25 to 30 percent body fat, and the American recommendation for women of child-bearing years is 21 to 33 percent. Healthy fats include coconut oil, whole milk, extra virgin olive oil, grass fed butter, avocados, and grass-fed meats (with healthy portions of the fat included). A great primer in the study of fats is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (found on page 14).
Just as important as what you put in your body, is what you don’t put in. Fats to avoid are shortening, margarine, vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil and the like. Other no-no’s include artificial sweeteners, white sugar, white flour, MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, caffeine, and soft drinks (even cherry limeades!). Not only are they empty calories, they are often toxic to the body.
Another crucial part of your lifestyle evaluation is your level of physical activity. At any time in life, exercise keeps the body feeling well, the joints moving, aches and pains dispelled, and there is an overall vitality. To “get in shape” for pregnancy, it’s important to incorporate into daily life activities and exercises that increase stamina, flexibility, and cardio function. If you’re wary of exercise because of pain, I recommend you read Pain Free (see page 14). I’ve followed its guidelines for almost a year now and have found incredible relief from aches and pains, while increasing my flexibility and balance.
When you exercise, it’s important that you not burn too much fat. High impact aerobics and long distance running often burn more than recommended amount of body fat for a healthy pregnancy. The key here is to research the regimen you will be participating in and maintain a level that’s right for you.
Our Food Doesn’t Always Cut It
Ideally, you would get all your nutrients from food, but that is just not possible these days with our nutritionally-depleted food supplies, busy lifestyles, and other deficiencies. That’s where the wonderful resources of Beeyoutiful are invaluable if you’re preparing for one of life’s greatest joys-and hardest tasks.
Both parents should take a multivitamin derived from whole sources, easily absorbed, and one that works within the body to help build and restore. SuperMom and SuperDad are excellent multivitamins which also feature “bonus” nutrients such as spiralina and cholorella. Bear in mind, that dad contributes on the front end to the baby’s health, so he needs to take his vitamins to build his system as well.
In addition to the multivitamin, Folic Acid is a must. A sufficient level of Folic Acid in both parents decreases the rate of several genetic problems including spina bifida and Down Syndrome. Although SuperMom and SuperDad offers 400 mcg of Folic Acid, most midwives and health practitioners advise 800 mcg per day for those anticipating pregnancy. For more on the benefits of Folic Acid in pre-natal care, check out Beeyoutiful’s Fall 2009 article “Pre-natal Peace of Mind” (available in the online archives at http://www.beeyoutiful.com/pre-natal-peace-of-mind).
To make sure your body can use the foods and supplements you’re giving it, you’ll need to do all you can to keep your digestive system working is best. Even if you are blessed with an iron-clad stomach, you have likely taken antibiotics sometime in your life or have been exposed to toxins that could wreak havoc on digestive flora. I’ve outlined below two key supplements to help build a strong digestive tract.
1. Tummy Tuneup, taken daily, rebuilds good intestinal flora which will pass to the baby growing inside of you. It is also protecting against harmful bacteria. And a big plus I wish I had known during my first stomach-churning pregnancy: Daily use of probiotics can help decrease nausea while pregnant.
2. Digestive Enzymes are crucial because enzymes are the tools your body uses to extract nutrients from food. Most people are deficient and unable to use well what their food offers. Without sufficient enzymes, many people experience fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, food cravings, and various stomach complaints. Eliminating these problems before pregnancy will help you feel better during pregnancy. And it will help maximize the “building blocks” or nutrients available to your child.
Cod Liver Oil, One of my new personal favorites. I wish I’d taken it prior to all my pregnancies, not just the current one. Cod Liver Oil provides the EPA and DHA required for proper brain development. I suggest using Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil along with Organic 3 Extra Virgin Butter Oil because between the two you get Omega 3’s and good amounts of Vitamins A, D, and K. These three vitamins work together to help build strong bones, maintain the cardiovascular system, keep skin clear and healthy, balance the clotting in your blood, reduce the chance of diabetes, strengthen the immune system, and a myriad of other great things. Taking these vitamins in the form of Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil helps you receive the greatest benefit. Since these are fat soluble vitamins, it is also crucial to take them with a meal containing a moderate amount of healthy fats.
Red Raspberry Leaves. This herb is invaluable to women of all ages, but specifically for pre-pregnancy, Red Raspberry Leaves are known to increase fertility in both men and women, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, and decrease morning sickness. Many midwives agree that Red Raspberry Leaves are safe to take throughout your pregnancy, but some advise against use during the first trimester, so (as always!) check with your preferred health care provider before continuing any supplement during your pregnancy.
A Matter of Timing
The plans I’ve shared here should be started six months to a year prior to pregnancy if at all possible. Certainly, if you are experiencing specific health concerns such as thyroid issues, extreme fatigue, chronic sinus problems, et al, it would be best to get control of them immediately-whether or not pregnancy seems to be in your future. Either by diet modification or through adding supplements or working with a naturopath: the more you work to restore your health now, the less work it will require to restore it in the future-and you’ll reduce the chances of passing on these problems to your children.
Whether your first or your tenth, pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in life! Every baby brings a wealth of expectations, joys, and new experiences. So as you contemplate bringing a life into this world, I hope you can learn a little from my bad choices and the subsequent better ones. For me, the most rewarding part of all has been my youngest child, who is by far healthier than my older two. We are so looking forward to our fourth addition in December and seeing firsthand how our hard work has paid off!
Mary Ewing is a part-time employee for Beeyoutiful as well as wife, mom and aspiring homesteader. She stays at home with her three children and enjoys exploring life with her brood as they cook, clean, garden, and play. Her passions are traditional cooking, essential oils, gardening, learning about raising livestock, and traditional art forms such as sewing, crocheting, knitting and smocking!
Pre-Natal Peace of Mind:
And Other Benefits of Folic Acid
After massaging countless pairs of names to prepare for the birth of our twins, my husband and I had settled on Grace and Rachel if we were blessed with two girls. Whoever came out first would be Grace. But when Greg held “Twin A,” the name “Rachel” felt more right to him. Within a few days we would realize why “Twin B” would need an extra measure of God’s grace.
After the Friday morning birth, I spent the weekend reveling in the wonder of having delivered the twins that I had prayed for nine months before. My husband spent the weekend secretly studying books and online sources about infant abnormalities. When he first held Twin B, he thought he saw something different about her eyes.
What he saw was Down syndrome. The midwife attending the birth had missed it. Our delivering obstetrician hadn’t noticed and none of the nurses at the hospital detected anything different about Grace. But at the twins’ Monday morning post-natal check-up, our pediatrician confirmed Greg’s suspicion.
Now 13, our twins are a delightful pair, if strikingly different from one another. Rachel rides pony trails and climbs mountains while Grace tours the zoo in a wheelchair, because severely flat feet make her legs and hips ache after much walking. Rachel catches on quickly while simple, often-repeated activities frustrate Grace into blank stares. Rachel’s alto contributes handsomely to classical performances of the local children’s community choir, while Grace can only attend performances.
Of course, Grace would not be Grace if she didn’t have her Down syndrome. Without her, we would miss out on the mysterious, masking-taped presents of a toilet paper tube, a rock, or utensil from the kitchen–accompanied by her standard card, a crayoned picture of a multi-layered cake with candles, signed “GRCE.” And we might take for granted her mastery of reading a new word.
Still, if there was something I could have done to prevent her Down syndrome, I would have done it. There’s no denying life is harder–and maybe burdened with a few more inexpressible disappointments—for Grace.
At the time Grace and Rachel were conceived, I was homeschooling four children, ages two to eight. My oldest daughter needed speech and occupational therapy, which meant hauling the entire crew back and forth to tri-weekly sessions. One son suffered gastrointestinal problems, which entailed specialist visits and many home treatments.
Although by the time I’d learned quite a bit about healthy eating, life was so huge that fish sticks and tater tots made their way onto our table far too often. I knew we should do better with our eating, but Real Life was so overwhelming, it couldn’t happen as I wanted. I didn’t even remember to start taking pre-natal vitamins until four or five months into the twin pregnancy.
Researchers have found that nearly 60% of mothers of children with Down syndrome have a genetic mutation that impairs the mother’s ability to metabolize folic acid. “Maternal non-disjunction” occurs before conception and is responsible for 95% of all Down syndrome cases. Mothers of babies with neural tube defects like spina bifada and anencephaly have a similar problem metabolizing folic acid.
Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, vitamin B9. Found naturally in leafy greens, citrus, liver, tuna, eggs, and legumes, among other foods, folate is necessary for synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins, and for the production and maintenance of all new cells. The body’s requirement for this vitamin increases during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy and fetal development. As a result, since 1992, the U. S. Public Health Service recommends that all women who might become pregnant should take a minimum of 400 micrograms of folic acid supplement per day. Studies suggest that if all women did this, the risk of neural tube defects would be reduced by up to 70%.
Waiting until you’re expecting a baby is not good enough. It takes up to a year to build up reserve of this vitamin, and the lack of folic acid at conception may result in brain and spinal cord damage as the fetus develops. Folic acid supplements taken for at least a year before conceiving is also associated with a 70% reduction in premature births between 20 and 28 weeks and a 50% reduction between 28 and 32 weeks. Another benefit of folic acid is protection against congenital cleft lip (with or without a cleft palate). It is estimated that 1/3 of facial clefts can be avoided with the help of folic acid.
Dads are not off the hook here, either. There’s a connection between folic acid and chromosomal abnormalities in men’s sperm. Men who consume high levels of folate or folic acid tend to have fewer sperm in which a chromosome is lost or gained. Extra or missing chromosomal material causes genetic abnormalities like Down, Turner’s, and Klinefelter’s syndromes. As with moms, future dads should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day for a minimum of three months prior to conception.
You are more at risk of preclampsia, placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, or even fetal death if you take medicines for epilepsy, mood disorders, hypertension, or infections because these medications are folic acid “antagonists.” You may require more than the usual recommendation of folic acid to counteract these bad effects.
Folic Acid- Mixed Reviews
In cancer research, there’s good news and bad about folic acid. On the good side: It counteracts cancer by strengthening chromosomes. Folic acid helps prevent colon cancer in men, and a study at Harvard Medical School found it can reduce women’s colon cancer rates by 75 percent.
However, too much folic acid can be a problem. While maintenance levels seem to offer protection against prostate cancer, too much folic acid may actually increase chances of prostate cancer. In other mixed news, studies show that people who get sufficient folic acid reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps by 40 to 60 percent. On the other hand, one researcher estimates that ingesting too much folic acid may cause an extra 15,000 cases of colorectal cancer each year in the US and Canada.
Folic Acid intertwines with vitamin B12 in many body processes, including synthesis of DNA, red blood cells, and the myelin sheath which insulates nerve cells and helps conduct signals throughout the nervous system. But, again, too much folic acid in the interaction can worsen a vitamin B12 deficiency. This problem is common in older patients and causes dementia and other complications like depression, apathy, withdrawal, and lack of motivation. Taking a combination of the two vitamins protects against this problem.
Vegetarians, whose diets tend to be especially high in folate-rich green vegetables and folic-acid fortified grains, are prone to vitamin B12 deficiencies. Because the body stores a good amount of B12 in the liver, though, there may be a delay of 5 to 10 years between the start of a vegetarian diet and the onset of deficiency symptoms.
Folic acid supplements offer good news to people over 50 through improved mental performance and memory. A study of adults age 50 to 70 who had low levels of folate were given folic acid supplements for three years with the result that memory, reaction speeds, information processing, and overall thinking tested similar to that of people two to five years younger.
In addition, a folate deficiency elevates homocysteine levels which contribute to heart disease and stroke. Folic acid supplementation is beneficial in preventing these cardiovascular problems. But too much folic acid throws these levels off in the other direction.
Allergy sufferers will likewise want to be sure their folic acid intake is good. Patients consuming higher levels had fewer antibodies that trigger immune responses such as allergies and asthma.
Folic Acid– The Sources
Since 1996, the USDA has required cereals and grains to be fortified with folic acid to ensure folks get an adequate amount of this vital nutrient. Although this has show a reduced incidence of babies born with neural tube defects, it’s wise for prospective parents to supplement with folic acid as extra insurance– especially mothers who already have a child or two (or more!) and may be depleted.
So how much should you take? Because folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, it is hard to overdose. The ideal dosage is between 400-800 micrograms per day for all populations. This will be safe for you unless your favorite daily snack is liver, which contains 170-190 micrograms for every three ounces!
Healthy bodies seem only able to process a maximum of 1000 mcg/day. Above this, some people report itchiness and rarely, gastrointestinal discomfort or insomnia. Sometimes doctors prescribe up to 4000 micrograms per day of folic acid supplementation for special cases, like a jump-start in healing certain anemias, or for mothers planning another pregnancy when they’ve borne a child with a neural tube defect. The folks at Beeyoutiful urge medical supervision before consuming mega-doses.
The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends getting the necessary pre-natal nutrition (also good for people of any age!) from properly prepared, nutrient-dense foods. This includes organic liver and other organ meats, seafood, eggs, and the best quality butter, cream and fermented (preferably raw) milk products you can find. Organic meats, vegetables, grains, and legumes should round out the diet, with a special emphasis on leafy green vegetables. (For more about the ideal way to prepare and eat foods, I’ll recommend yet again the excellent book by Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, available from Beeyoutiful.)
Healthy meal preparation too often collides with Real Life making a thoroughly healthy diet difficult to achieve regularly–which is where the importance of using the right supplements come in. For those in their child-bearing years, the elderly, allergy sufferers, heart patients, and people taking medicine for epilepsy and mood disorders, supplemental folic acid intake is essential. You can get it through Beeyoutiful’s SuperMom and SuperDad vitamins as well as Beeyoutiful’s separate Folic Acid tablets which contain an ample 800 mcg. of folic acid, plus 25 mg. of B12. Whatever your stage of life, knowing you’re getting the rewards of proper folic acid intake will add to your peace of mind.
Nancy Webster is a free-lance writer, homeschool mother of eight, and an avid researcher on health and nutrition. She lives with her family on their partially working farm in Tennessee. Nancy and her husband Greg’s sixth child Grace (smiling atop their old Belgian horse) is a big sister to a brother and sister who do not have Down syndrome or neural tube defects. The Websters believe siblings are the best gift you can give your child with Down syndrome. Nancy has recently started the Southern Middle Tennessee chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (see Nourishing Traditions in the Beeyoutiful book section for more about the WAP Foundation.)
My Cup of Tea
By Sharon Tallent
My love affair with tea began 35 years ago when I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. This life-changing news required sweeping changes in my diet. I wept. I mourned. I love sweets! One of the most tragic losses was sweet drinks–no more lemonade, no more fruit drinks, no more sodas. Back then, there were few artificial sweeteners and the ones I tried didn’t taste the same as sugar (some were downright terrible!) and weren’t good for me. My solace became drinking tea. I drank lots of it then and I still do.
On cold days, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as sitting down with a cup of hot tea to feel warmed and comfortable. On hot days, a large glass of iced tea hits the spot! What makes tea-drinking even better nowadays is that, through the years, more and more teas have become readily available. Thirty-five years ago, pretty much the only teas you could buy were black or orange pekoe tea (like Lipton’s) and Chinese Black Tea in specialty stores. Now the selections seem endless! There are herbal teas and tea blends that:
- Aid in digestion, constipation, detoxing, and cleansing;
- Help with PMS, pregnancy, and nursing;
- Relieve the symptoms of colds, flu, bronchitis, and allergies;
- Relax the body and help us go to sleep;
- Refresh and provide energy.
Of all the herbal teas I’ve tried, there are very few I don’t like. I marvel at people who research herbs, buy them in bulk, and come up with their own blends. I’ve done that, but mostly I’m happy to leave that work to others and stick to prepackaged bags. Traditional Medicinals is my favorite. They’ve already done the research on which herbal blends really work well, combined the herbs, and then packaged them in serving sizes! Because of their dedication to providing the highest quality organic teas, Traditional Medicinal is a brand I’ve trusted through the years.
During the cold and flu season, I rely heavily on several teas from Traditional Medicinals. Gypsy Cold Care may be my favorite herbal tea (even though it’s hard to pick just one). Everyone in our family welcomed a warm cup of Gypsy Cold Care when they were down with a cold or the flu. Even when they didn’t feel like eating or drinking anything, the patient would drink this minty-sweet tea. The healing magic is in the ingredients:
Elder Flower has an anti-mucous effect and it, along with the Yarrow Flower, can lower a fever. Hyssop is a decongestant and expectorant to clear nasal and bronchial passages. Peppermint and ginger can ease nausea, vomiting and digestive upset. Peppermint can help clear congestion and cough. Cinnamon has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties. Plus, it helps reduce inflammation. Licorice Root soothes a sore throat and is effective against certain viruses, bronchitis, and stomach ulcers. Rose Hip (high in vita-min C) and safflower boost the immune system.
To especially target a sore throat, I recommend Organic Throat Coat. Unlike other throat-soothing teas I’ve tried, its clinical tests show Organic Throat Coat is truly effective in treating and relieving sore throat pain. And I know from personal experience that it does! It is soothing and good tasting–even without adding sweeteners. However, since the medicinal benefits of honey are well-known, sometimes I add a bit to this and other teas when serving to the rest of my family. Like Gypsy Cold Care, this tea blend includes cinnamon and Licorice Root. Other featured ingredients are:
Marshmallow Root has anti-bacterial and expectorant qualities and also soothes and softens dry, irritated mucous membranes, making it effective in relieving dry coughs and sore throats. Slippery Elm Bark is very soothing and healing to the mucous membranes of the mouth, stomach, and intestines, helping relieve coughs and bronchitis. Wild Cherry Bark relieves dry, nonproductive coughs and asthma-like symptoms. Fennel fights excessive build-up of mucous in the nose and throat. Sweet Orange Peel is an anti-oxidant and aids digestion – plus, it adds a nice flavor to the tea.
Breathe Easy is amazing for allergies, stuffy heads, and chest congestion. During certain times of the year, especially when the pollen or smog count is high, I am miserable, even to the point of not being able to sleep. One cup of this wonderful tea, though, and I can get on with my day–or drop off to sleep. Breathe Easy actually works better and faster for me than the inhaler prescribed for me for my asthma! This slightly sweet tea contains: fennel, licorice, peppermint, and ginger. Plus, it has Eucalyptus Leaf which helps loosen phlegm, open up nasal passages, and reduce fever and inflammation. It also acts as an expectorant. Eucalyptus is anti-bacterial and has antiseptic qualities. Bi Yan Pian is all-natural herbal formulation in Breathe Easy which relieves congestion in the lungs and nasal passages and reduces inflammation. Calendula acts as an inflammatory and an anti-microbial. Pleurisy Root reduces inflammation in the respiratory system, acts as an expectorant, and it is an anti-spasmodic.
Organic Echinacea Elder
Finally, there’s Organic Echinacea Elder, also for relief of colds and flu. Besides Echinacea, which activates and stimulates immune cells, relieves pain, reduces inflammation and has anti-viral and anti-oxidant effects, this tea contains Spearmint and Lemon Grass, giving it a fresh mint flavor with a hint of citrus.
Spearmint has similar qualities to peppermint but has a milder taste. An anti-spasmodic, it is often more useful than peppermint as a treatment for indigestion, coughs, and hiccups in children. Lemon Grass is effective against bacteria and viruses, is an anti-spasmodic, helps reduce fevers, and much more. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study, Echinacea Plus was effective in reducing symptoms as well as shortening their duration. I like to add sweetener to this tea–usually the liquid Stevia that Beeyoutiful sells (although lately, I’ve started adding a bag of Beeyoutiful’s Organic Licorice Root to most teas that I drink, just because it is so soothing and adds extra smoothness and natural sweetness).
Being sick with a cold or sore throat is no fun. At those times, perhaps you, like I, can’t stand the thought of food, soup, cough medicine, or anything like that. That’s when you might want to welcome a cup of warm tea. Sometimes I put two or more of the Traditional Medicinals teas in a large container of boiling water to get the full range of benefits offered by each. It works great!
Sharon Tallent is the mother of 3 wonderful adult sons and the grandmother of 3 adorable grandchildren. Through the years, she has spent countless hours researching and trying even more natural and healthy ways to take care of her own health and that of her family. She also enjoys scrapbooking, drawing, traveling, and spending time with her loved ones.
My greatest passion in life is midwifery and experiencing the birth of a child with parents who love children as much as I do. And as a Licensed Midwife, it has been my privilege to advise many women during pregnancy, and to be present at thousands of births. I take it upon myself to care for my clients, before, during and after the birthing, physically, mentally and emotionally. I had one client who was worried about having her fifth baby. After a few prenatal visits, I was puzzled about her concern. I was thinking, “Fifth baby, what could she be worried about?” After some coaxing, she finally admitted that it was the after pains that had her concerned about her birth. Apparently the after pains were so incredibly intense after her fourth baby, that she was not at all concerned about the act of giving birth to number 5, but the after pains. Now that I knew what was troubling her, I suggested that we up her dosage. She was skeptical that this would help, but was willing to give it a try. I advise all of my clients to take Red Raspberry Leaf through pregnancy because it does so many fantastic things.
Red Raspberry Leaf Information: For thousands of years midwives of old and Chinese herbalists have used herbs with very good results. This fact is not lost on the current medical community as most of our allopathic medicines have come from herbs. As a midwife and herbalist, I use herbs constantly in my practice. I believe that the female body was designed to give birth, and that with proper nutrition, it can usually do what it knows how to do, without much, if any intervention. I have also found certain herbs to contribute significant amounts of nourishment necessary to our bodies. Red Raspberry leaf is a widely used herbal tonic that is especially beneficial during pregnancy.
Brewed as a tea, in capsule form or as an infusion, Red Raspberry Leaf is one of the safest and most commonly used tonic herbs for women wanting to get pregnant or for women who are already pregnant. Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tones the uterus, is the most easily assimilated form of calcium, improves the quality of labor contractions, improves quality of sleep, decreases feeling of anxiety/nervousness and decreases constipation. Since osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium, daily use of Red Raspberry Leaf is highly recommended for all women.
Almost every trace mineral that our bodies use is available in Red Raspberry Leaf. Taking this herb helps facilitate all the functions our bodies do for us on a daily basis. This is why Red Raspberry Leaf is considered a ‘tonic’ herb; it tones or tonifies and supports the body in general. Because Red Raspberry Leaf has calcium that is so readily available to our bodies; and most of us have a calcium deficiency, most people notice a change in how they feel right away. Beeyoutiful’s encapsulated organic Red Raspberry Leaf is easily assimilated by your body. All the necessary trace minerals and vitamins your body needs to easily assimilate the calcium are already right there, occurring naturally in the Red Raspberry Leaf itself. This means no one in a lab had to figure out how to formulate something that might work as well as the real thing!
When to Use Red Raspberry Leaf: Use Red Raspberry Leaf every day! It is almost impossible to over dose on Red Raspberry Leaf. You can drink 1-6 cups of Red Raspberry Leaf leaf tea per day, hot or iced-it’s a very mild tasting tea. Or, you can take one to four capsules per day. Take or drink more in the second half of the day if you tend to have trouble sleeping. Red Raspberry Leaf encourages a deeper, more restful sleep. Now, as for symptoms of taking too much Red Raspberry Leaf, you will experience one or the other… very loose stool or constipation. Either is a sure sign that you have more than reached your body’s threshold for calcium levels. Just back down on your dose by one or two cups of tea or one or two capsules. Your bathroom habits will return to what is familiar to you.
Pregnancy and Red Raspberry Leaf: As for pregnant women using Red Raspberry Leaf, there are two schools of thought on the subject with conflicting information ‘floating around’ about the use and safety of this herb. Many clinicians agree that in the 3rd trimester, frequent (3-4 cups per day of tea OR 1 – 2 capsules) use is beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles. Red Raspberry Leaf contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and calcium. It also contains an alkaloid called fragrine, which lends tone and strength to the uterus.
Other clinicians agree that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st trimester and 2 cups in the 2nd trimester and switching to an infusion (an infusion is just stronger ‘tea’) for the 3rd trimester ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. And finally, some clinicians advise no use of Red Raspberry Leaf in the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of miscarriage. Midwives in the U.K. claim an increase in miscarriage rates during that time by those women who have used Red Raspberry Leaf. It has been noted that Red Raspberry Leaf can possibly cause minor spotting in the beginning of a pregnancy. Some advise to use it especially if you have a history of miscarriage. None of the above studies were done with an herbalist’s input.
What Red Raspberry Leaf does NOT DO is start labor or promote contractions. It is NOT an emmenagogue (something that promotes a miscarriage) or an oxytocic herb (an herb or chemical that promotes uterine contractions). It does strengthen the pelvic and uterine muscles in order to help you feel better throughout your pregnancy (something we all need, right?) It also allows your labor and the muscles involved with birthing to be more relaxed and efficient. Who doesn’t want a shorter, more comfortable birth?
Contact your midwife, herbalist or physician for more information about your personal use of Red Raspberry Leaf . You always have the option of doing enough ‘homework’ yourself to feel good about your decision to use or not use this herb. This advice is good for any decision you might be facing about your pregnancy options or your own health and welfare in general!
Tea recipe: To make tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Steeping longer than ten minutes will only make the tea bitter, not stronger. For stronger tea, use more in the tea bag or tea ball. Sweeten with Stevia or honey.
For pregnant women, during the first two trimesters, drink 1-2 cups per day. You can drink up to four cups a day as there is no known overdose of this herb. During the final trimester, drink 2-4 cups per day, especially before going to bed for the night; you’ll sleep much better. If you’re just not a tea drinker, try Beeyoutiful’s encapsulated organic Red Raspberry Leaf! One to six capsules per day, based on comfort.
Making your own dry tea: You can harvest your own Red Raspberry leaves or purchase them dried from your local health food store or organic grocery. To dry harvested leaves quickly, lay them on a cotton sheet in the back of a vehicle on a hot day with the windows closed.
I like to add Nettles, Alfalfa or Spearmint to my dry tea. This combination makes for a very toning tea. Nettles has every trace mineral our bodies need and helps build up red blood cells as well. Alfalfa helps blood to clot well and prevents unnecessary blood loss. Spearmint is soothing to the stomach and adds a bit of flavor to these herbs for a bit more punch to your tea.
Just a note about ‘sun tea’. Feel free to make the above tea as sun tea, but know that boiling water is hotter then sun-warmed water, and will extract more of the botanical properties you are drinking the tea for in the first place. You can always brew your tea with boiling water and serve over ice. Make a quart or two and drink throughout the day. Start with a fresh brew at least every three days, as herbal teas will allow mold to begin to grow after three days, even if stored in the refrigerator. Your best option is to make a daily amount, one to two quarts. Remember, you still need to be drinking plenty of water. Tea does not count as part of your daily water intake even though it has water in it.
Well, my client faithfully took the Red Raspberry Leaf in the higher amounts discussed and her birth experience went so well that I almost missed it! She felt just fine at her 24 hour check up too, but said the next day would be the test to see if it had worked. I told her to call me if she experienced any after pains like she had in the past and scheduled a routine five-day postpartum check up. I never received any phone calls from her and started wondering if she was going to tough it out rather than call. With all of this going through my mind, I rang the door bell on the day of my visit hoping to hear good news, yet fearing I wouldn’t. My face split into a huge grin as my client all but tap danced to the door to let me in! She couldn’t stop telling me how great the last few days had been! It had been nothing like her last postpartum experience. She wanted me to promise that I would tell every pregnant woman of this miracle herb that made all the difference for her. So, this is me keeping my promise and telling all of you this “big secret” to feeling good during and after your births! Red Raspberry Leaf truly is a miracle herb! Enjoy your amazing body every day. Bee well, bee happy!
Written by Jenny West, LM, CPM, HBCE, TBMP, CST, CH; a midwife/herbalist who has been in practice for 18 years and delivered over 7000 babies.
Edited by Jean Kuvik.
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