• midwife michele

Herbs For Labour Support



First things first, there are a limitless variety of concoctions for pregnant folks to be overwhelmed by. Every midwife and herbalist has their own special, often proprietary, blend of herbs for their clients to steep and drink throughout pregnancy and when/if certain pregnancy-related complications arise. Mine is no more or less special than the next one.


Are herbals necessary during labour? I would not go as far as to say that they are absolutely necessary. However, sipping on a labour infusion or tea can often help the person in labour stay hydrated, relaxed, and certain ingredients can help ease labour. In certain specific (and usually rare in homebirth) cases, either herbal infusions or tinctures *can be* necessary to help a stalled labour get going again. These situations and complications can be discussed with your own personal healthcare provider.


How do we make and take herbal infusions and tinctures? It is not difficult to make infusions and tinctures. The only truly difficult part is the waiting! Below are the simple and easy methods I have used for years for myself, my family, and my clients. I have also shared simple and easy dosing instructions, but it is strongly advised that you seek the guidance of your own personal healthcare provider to make sure these are appropriate for you.


Basic Preparations: Infusion – 1 inch dried herbs in 1 quart canning jar; fill with boiling water; steep at least 2 hours (overnight is preferred) Tincture – 1 inch dried herbs in 1 quart canning jar; fill with 100 proof vodka; steep at least 6 weeks (8-12 is preferred)


Basic Dosing: Infusion – 1 quart per day Tincture – 1 dropperful (approx 22 drops) in small amount of warm water held under tongue for 1-2 mins & then swallowed


What herbs are commonly used during labour? The following herbs listed are commonly used during labour. I have given both their common name and their Latin name to help with identification. I have also included reasons why the herbs are used (what their functions are).


Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) – high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, b-vitamins, and high concentration of vitamin C; used for nausea, restful sleep, uterine toning, leg-cramps, immunity boost, PMS symptoms, and endometriosis.


Blue Cohosh/Squawroot Root (Caulophyllum thalictroides)* – phytochemical calulopsponin, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, hypertensive, parturient, and uterine Tonic; used for stimulating uterine contractions, ease labour pains, and for treating amenorrhea & dysmenorrhea. *Only use during last week or two of pregnancy under the advice of healthcare provider to avoid premature birth. *Avoid with history of hyPERtension.


Partridgeberry/Squaw Vine Berry/Leaf (Mitchella repens) – Parturient, diuretic, tonic, and astringent; used for menorrhagia, uterine toning, easing labour, labour pains, and postpartum hemorrhage prevention.


Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa) – provides chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, amino acids, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A; used for allergies, blood clotting, cleansing the blood, arthritis, gout, reduce cholesterol, hyPERtension, hyPERglycemia, and anemia.


Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)* – nervine and stimulant; used for pain relief and relaxant. *Use caution and do not exceed amounts suggested by healthcare provider.


Capsicum/Cayenne (Capsicum annuum, Capsicum minimum, Capsicum frutescens)– antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, styptic, and tonic; used for pain relief, stimulant, postpartum hemorrhage prevention.


Spikenard Root (Aralia racemosa)* – is in the ginseng family and is similar to sarsaparilla; has glucose, iron, magnesium; used for easing and speeding up labour. *Avoid during pregnancy until the last 4 to 6 weeks.


Recipes: The following recipes are based off of the herbal profiles above and how I typically prepare them in my practice, though I often have to adjust the accordingly for specific client needs. It is extremely important that you seek the advice of your healthcare provider before trying any herbal remedy or supplement. Herbs are strong Medicine.


Labour Infusion (only 38+ weeks gestation): Red Raspberry Leaf (2 parts) Blue Cohosh (1 part) Alfalfa (1 part) Squaw Vine (1 part) Spikenard (1 part) sweeten to taste


Labour Augmentation Tinctures (only for a “stuck labour”): Lobelia – dropperful Capsicum/Cayenne – dropperful both droppers in warm water under the tongue for a 1-2 minutes and swallow


Sources Used: – Clinical Phytotherapy for Women’s Health, by C. Cabrera – The Book of Herbal Wisdom, by M. Wood – Medical Herbalism, by D. Hoffmann – Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation: An Evidence-Based Approach, by E. Mills et al – Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide (3rd edition, 2010), by L. Braun and M. Cohen – The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, by M. Wood – The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, by M. Wood – Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, by R. Gladstar – Herbalism: An Illustrated Guide, by N. Shaw (Element Books Unlimited) – Family wisdom passed from elders down to me


{Disclaimer: Educational purposes only. This information is NOT medical advice or meant to diagnose or treat an illness. If you have questions or concerns, please seek the advisement of a physician, naturopath, or herbalist before using any herbal preparation for yourself or your family.}


#herbsforpregnancy #herbalism #laboursupport #herbsforlabour #herbsforbirth #herbsforchildbearingyear

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