Dr Nate Petley is a brilliant combination of herbalist & naturopathic doctor. At a talk he did, he discussed everything from the basic concept of herbalism, to how to make your own teas and which combination of herbs to use during pregnancy and postpartum as well as everything in between! The following are some notes from that amazing talk!

Herbalism is the use of plants for medicinal purposes.  Much of herbalism stems – pun intended – from traditions passed down through generations of cultures, which are now being scientifically proven as to why such treatments actually work.

A lot of problems we face both in everyday health, and particularly when expecting, can be caused by deficiencies of vitamins and minerals in our diet.  When expectant, we hear about folic acid regularly.  Prenatal vitamins are a staple in today’s age.  Here’s the thing – even if we take supplements, the way they are processed and then ingested may not be suitable for our bodies.  Sometimes we still wind up with deficiencies.  Our bodies are designed to register and understand herbs in their whole natural form, and when given synthetic forms they are actually toxic to our systems.  We need to feed our bodies with the right combinations of whole and natural vitamins and minerals.

There are so many blanket statements made to expectant parents such as to avoid sage postpartum as it can dry up your milk.  This is true, to an extent.  First of all, it would take more than a simple seasoning worth of sage to dry up your milk.  And, if a mom and baby were ready for the weaning phase, ingesting sage can be very helpful.  

Making tea can be farm more specific than one would think. Whenever possible you would want to use organic ingredients and steep the tea overnight.  It can take up to a minimum of three hours for the minerals to come out from some herbs.  The warm water as well as swishing the water around in a mason jar help this process and leaving it overnight just ensures ultimate benefit. Mason jars are great as they can handle the heat and are premeasured!  Put your herbs in, add the boiling water, swish it around, put a lid on it and leave it till morning.  Then, strain the ‘mark’(herbs) from the liquid using a cheese cloth or stainless steel strainer, warm the ‘tea’ on the stove, and enjoy.  Finding your favorite chair to relax in while you sip your tea and focus on doing nothing is a great way to get your daily meditation in as well.  The entire process, including making the tea, is a healing adventure!

* Do not warm your tea in the microwave.  You don’t put metal in your microwave so what happens to any iron in the tea?  Also, it would lessen the meditative adventure 🙂

Some popular herbs, especially during pregnancy & postpartum, are Red Raspberry Leaf, Oatstraw, Milky Oat Tips, Nettle Leaf and Evening Primrose.  Here are a couple of healing & nurturing recipes:

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

In the evening, weigh out one ounce of dried, bulk leaf and place it in a quart mason jar.  Fill with boiling water, cover and let sit overnight.  Strain in the morning and sip up to 4 cups throughout the day.  Red raspberry works best as a tonic taken daily for the last month of pregnancy but even 1 – 2 weeks has been said to be useful.  Continue to drink this daily tea postpartum to help repair tissue damage that may be caused by labor.

Mother’s Milk Tea

To improve lactation, blend together equal parts fennel seed, fenugreek seed and blessed thistle.  Steep 1 – 2 teaspoons per cup for 15 minutes covered.  Drink 2 – 4 cups daily.  Capsules may also be taken but because water intake is often inadequate, the tea works well for hydrating.

Things to remember:

Ask a professional!  – such as Dr Petley of course!  You can find tons of information on the internet, yes, and from well intentioned friends, but you cannot always believe everything you read or hear.

Timing and quantity are everything!  You can ingest certain herbs at certain times in your pregnancy and not in others and the quantity that you would want to take would change as well.  Again, ask a professional!

Herbs can help with everything from morning sickness and heartburn to enhancing smooth muscle tissue and relieving colic to helping with depression and anxiety.  They are so important throughout your pregnancy and beyond.  

For more information please contact:

Dr. Nathaniel Petley, ND
(207) 616-0049