Using Herbs to Prepare For Birth

Using Herbs to Prepare For Birth

 

If you're looking to use herbs in late pregnancy in preparation for your birth, you'll notice there are a few options available within the online store!

And if you're not sure which to choose, then this is for you. 

The 'birth prep' products I'm referring to are:

  • Raspberry Leaf Tea (for use from 32 weeks)
  • Birth Ready Herbal Tea (for use from 36 weeks)
  • 5-W Herbal Capsules (for use from 35-40 weeks)
  • Raspberry Leaf Herbal Extract (for use from 35-40 weeks)
  • Labour Prep Herbal Extract (for use 34-38 weeks)
  • Labour Ready Herbal Extract (for use 38-40 weeks)
I'm often asked:
  1. Which one/s should I use?
  2. What's the difference between 'this' product and 'that' product?
  3. Are these safe?
  4. Can I use 'this' product as well as 'that' product?
  5. Will 'this product' bring on labour?
  6. Can I use 'this product' if I'm being induced?  
  7. Can I use 'this product' if I'm going for a VBAC?
  8. Google says 'this herb' shouldn't be taken in pregnancy. Please explain.

         Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)


        1. Which one/s should I use?

        First things first, are your personal preferences.

        There are 3 types of herbal preparations to choose from: herbal teas, liquid herbal extracts and herbal capsules.

        If you're a herbal tea lover then you'll probably enjoy drinking the Raspberry Leaf Tea or the Birth Ready Tea.

        Keeping in mind by around 36-38 weeks, it's recommended to have 3 cups per day (to receive the full medicinal effects). Every day. 

        If you're not a big tea drinker, then perhaps the liquid herbal extracts may work out easier for you.

        These include the Raspberry Leaf Herbal Extract, or the Labour Prep and Labour Ready combo.

        But then again, if you're not a fan of earthy-tasting liquid herbs then the 5-W Capsules may be the best option for you. 

        2. What's the difference between 'this' product and 'that' product?

        This is often asked regarding the Raspberry Leaf Tea and the Birth Ready Herbal Tea.



        Both have the same goal in mind - to prepare and tone the uterus for labour and birth.

        The Birth Ready blend mixes things up a bit. It combines the beloved Raspberry Leaf alongside additional uterine tonic herbs (Motherwort and Squaw Vine) plus some nutritive herbs (Alfalfa, Dandelion and Nettle). There is also hint of Peppermint to bring it all together.

        Some mamas get both of these teas and alternate them which works, and helps to keep things interesting.

        Keep in mind that Raspberry Leaf can be enjoyed from around 32 weeks, whilst Birth Ready is suitable from 36 weeks onwards. Many women begin using the Raspberry Leaf tea at 32 weeks for a good month then switch to the Birth Ready herbal tea at 36 weeks. Whilst some choose to stay with the Raspberry Leaf from 32 weeks until labour begins! Some women alternate between Raspberry Leaf and Birth Ready from 36 weeks onwards so they don't get sick of the same tea all the time. There is no right or wrong way in my opinion.

        FUN FACT: the Birth Ready blend was created back in 2012. It's still going strong today!


        The difference between the Raspberry Leaf Tea and the Raspberry Leaf Extract (liquid herbal extract) is obviously the herbal preparation itself, and therefore the dosing and frequency of dose.

        As all liquid herbal extracts are a potent preparation, the dosing is low to begin with and slowly increases over the 6+ weeks it's recommended.

        For example, with the Raspberry Leaf Extract (pictured below left) you begin at 34 weeks taking just 2.5ml a day. Then over the following 6+ weeks you increase your dose at guided increments until you reach the safest, maximum amount for this end stage of pregnancy.


        Also, when it comes to the Raspberry Leaf Herbal Extract there are 2 forms of herbal extract to choose from: the tincture or the glycetract.

        HERBAL TINCTURE

        This is an alcohol-based extraction of the herb (like most liquid herbs in a herbal dispensary). It gives a high potency preparation which means you don't need to take much to get the medicinal effect. It has high absorbency and fast-acting properties. Given that only a very small/negligible amount of alcohol is consumed, it remains a very safe and effective way of using herbs. The mixture does not contain more than 25-30% alcohol. Taken as directed, tinctures are considered safe for late pregnancy.

        HERBAL GLYCETRACT

        This is liquid preparation where the solvent is a combination of glycerol and water (instead of alcohol/ethanol and water). The vegetable glycerine used is sourced from non-GMO, sustainable and palm-free sources, including soybean, rapeseed and coconut. As a result of the glycetract manufacturing process, the mixture does not contain more than <0.1% ethanol. It is naturally sweet-tasting. 

        Glycetracts are suitable for people who prefer to, or are required to have avoid any alcohol. This may include occupations with Zero Alcohol Tolerance - emergency workers (e.g. police officers, ambulance officers, firefighters), mine workers, pilots, drivers of public or heavy vehicles, or Learner or Probationary drivers. Or those with alcohol and/or drug dependency, sensitivity/allergies to ethanol, or those with liver disease or damage. Or those with Zero Alcohol Preference - due to personal religious beliefs or those taking certain pharmaceutical medications. 


        Both the Labour Prep (for use from 34-38 weeks) and the Labour Ready (for use from 38-40 weeks) also contain Raspberry Leaf. But they also have other herbs to work synergistically alongside it. These other herbs have nutritive, adaptogenic, antispasmodic, and uterine toning properties.

        Again the 'aim' is the same, its just a different method to get there!

        The same can be said for the 5-W Herbal Capsules.

        The 'aim' of these capsules is the same as the Labour Prep and the Labour Ready. But instead of taking it as 2 separate, follow-on formulas over the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, it's to be taken over the last 5 weeks of pregnancy.

        The dosing I provide with it is incremental from 35-40 weeks, a similar approach to the Labour Prep and Labour Ready.

        The 5-W capsules contain a similar (but not exact) blend of herbs. The capsules have Black Cohosh, Squaw Vine, Donq Quai, Butcher's Broom and Raspberry leaf.

        I have included the 5-W Herbal Capsules as an option for those who simply don't like taking liquid herbal extracts. The taste can be a new experience for some, although the actual doses ranges from a small but mighty 2ml, building up to 8ml. These doses are to be mixed into some water so are very tolerable in my opinion. 

        Some also wish to steer away from herbal extracts all together as they are formulated using an alcohol-based extraction method. Yet as explained above, following the dosage chart carefully means only a very small/negligible amount of alcohol is consumed. This method of extraction also provides a high potency herbal preparation, which means you don't need to take much to get the medicinal effect. It also has a high absorbency rate with fast-acting properties. This is why so many naturopaths and herbalists love using herbal extracts.

         

        3. Are they safe? 

        As a Naturopath working closely with pregnant and birthing women (also as a Doula), I've used these herbal formulas for over 25 years with no issues.

        It's important to remember that the individual herbs, plus the amounts of each of them within the formula matters. The dosage chart plus the timing of use within the 3rd trimester also matters.

        The suitability to a woman's individual situation also matters - this is why the questionnaire needs to be completed before they can be dispensed.

        For example, there are some circumstances where I don't consider the Labour Prep or Labour Ready herbal extracts, or the 5-W Herbal Capsules suitable.

        This may be the case with a history of preterm labour, high blood pressure, a high risk pregnancy, or ongoing and underlying medical issues (these are listed within the product's description under 'Safety & Considerations'). However, the herbal teas may still be an option.

         

         4. Can I use 'this' product as well as 'that' product?

        Below you'll see which products are suitable to combine, if you wish to.

        If there is no '‚úĒÔłŹ' it means combining the products is not recommended, or considered necessary.

          

        5. Will they bring on labour?

        The purpose of using these particular herbs in late pregnancy is to help support the body in readiness for labour. They are not intended to 'induce' labour. 

        Instead, they strengthen and 'tone' the uterine muscles so that once labour does start, it's more efficient. They may also help to facilitate a safer third stage of labour, preventing haemorrhage. 


        6. Can I use these product if I am having an induction?

        Yes. As these herbs support the body in readiness for an efficient labour. They are not intended to 'induce' labour. 

        However, the reasons why you're having an induction of labour will also be taken into consideration to confirm your individual suitability.

        7. Can I use this product if I'm going for a VBAC?

        Generally yes, I consider these herbal preparations safe for VBAC women. However, please also see the 'Safety & Considerations' on the Labour Prep, Labour Ready and 5-W Herbal Capsules product pages.

         

         

        8. Google says 'this herb' shouldn't be taken in pregnancy. Please explain.

        Ah yes, the melting pot of conflicting google results! Please refer to the answer to #3 - Are they safe?

        It's common to find blanket statements about particular herbs being 'unsafe for use during pregnancy'.

        Examples may include Withania (in Labour Prep), Schisandra (in Labour Ready) and Black Cohosh (in 5-W Capsules).

        Again, it's important to put the use of these herbs into context:

        • Who is dispensing them?
        • Are they familiar with using herbs in pregnancy?
        • Are these herbs sourced from a reliable manufacturer?
        • How much of the herb is included?
        • How much would you be consuming when you follow the prescribed dosage?
        • How far into your pregnancy are you?
        • Are you taking, or self-prescribing any other herbs?
        • Do you have any underlying medical conditions or risk factors?
        • Are you taking any medication that may be contraindicated with using a particular herb?
        • Have the herbs been deemed suitable for your situation (through the completed questionnaire)?

         

        For example, Squaw Vine (in Birth Ready Tea and 5-W capsules), Motherwort (in Birth Ready Tea and Labour Ready Herbal Extract), Black Cohosh {not be be confused with Blue Cohosh} (in 5-W capsules ) or Schisandra (in Labour Ready Herbal Extract) are herbs that Naturopaths or Herbalists know not to use during the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy.

        However, they are indicated for use in the final weeks of 3rd trimester 'to assist preparation for birth'. Naturopaths and Herbalists understand the therapeutic actions of these herbs in the body so this makes sense to us! 

        Hopefully this has helped answer any questions you had around the 'birth prep' products. Please get in touch if you need more guidance.

        Kristin x

        Naturopath & Doula
        Founder of The Mamawise Store
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