Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy
Patches of Thyme
Whether preparing for a baby, nursing, caring for our families or in pre-menopause, perimenopausal or postmenopausal, maintaining our health is important. Season after season, God has given us the tools and resources to be able to maintain our health naturally. “Be prepared in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV)
Herbs and the knowledge to use them is a gift to help prepare our body for a baby. A knowledgeable midwife or herbalist can help you utilize these gifts God has given us. According to Aviva Romm, about 1 in 5 women will have difficulty conceiving if they wait until they are over the age of 35. If you plan to become pregnant, preparing and continuing a healthy lifestyle (preconception) prepares us for the special time. "Therefore, prepare your minds for action." (1 Peter 1:13 NIV)
Discussing Way’s to Prepare for Your Special Time
Addressing toxins and how to cleanse our bodies using herbs and detox baths is the first important step. Some toxins are excreted through the primary routes of elimination, others must first be transformed by the liver. Through a series of reaction, the liver can convert some toxins to a more water-soluble form which will aid excretion in the urine, breathe or sweat. But is that enough? Many people are exposed to toxins daily. Some of these toxins include aluminum, lead, pesticides, fluoride and chlorine. (1)
How can we help the liver work more effectively with herbs?
Dandelion- This herb is a very mild chloretic, which helps stimulate the release of bile from the liver. By releasing the bile from the liver it can help breakdown steriod, hormones and have a mild laxative effect. Dandelion is a wonderful herbal diuretic. It is a nutritive. It contains vitamins A,C, D, and B as well as iton, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Many consider dandelion a nuisance in their yards, but many herbalists have found numerous uses for this great herb (1)
Nettle - This herb has been known to increase fertility while gently eliminating toxins from the uterus and kidney. Nettle is an excellent source of iron and many midwives suggest using nettle in addition to other herbs in a nourishing protocol. The use of nettle as a tonic for the female reproductive system goes back to the Native Americans who used it throughout pregnancy and also to stop hemorrhaging during childbirth. Overall it is considered one of the best women's tonics around. The Botanical Safety Handbook gives nettle the highest safety ratings. (herb mentor). Nettle contains vitamin A, C and K.
Milk Thistle- Milk thistle is very well known as a liver herb. It protects the liver against toxins and viruses while healing the liver. It also has a great benefit of stimulating the liver to cleanse while also stimulating it to renew liver cells. Milk thistle supports hormonal balance. Sylmarin is the main constituent in milk thistle that protects liver health. All around this herb is a great addition to a natural fertility plan. (1)
Detox baths - A detox bath once a day would be helpful. Here is a simple recipe to help release tension, and gently detox.
1 cup Epsom salts
1/2 cup lavender
1/4 cup calendula
1/3 cup rose petals
1/4 cup elderflowers
1/3 cup chamomile
Directions: Mix all together. In a foot bath use about 1/2 cup and use about one cup in a bathtub.
A bath is a very efficient way to get missing minerals in our body. Magnesium and other herbs are absorbed though our skin. The Epsom salts are the magnesium very much needed and the other herbs were chosen for stress relief, anti-bacterial properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and astringent properties.
Preparation of the uterus can begin anytime. You can utilize many of these tips even years before conceiving.
Red Raspberry leaf tea - This wonderful herb tones and strengthens uterine muscles. It contains an alkaloid called fragine, a chemical constituent that strengthens muscle tissue. It can also help normalize blood flow during menstruation. In addition, it keeps contractions nice and regular when in labor. Traditionally it is the overall best herb for the female reproductive system. This herb is fantastic to take during entire childbearing years. It is very high in iron, calcium along with vitamins D, B, A and C. NOTE: Red raspberry leaf is a stimulant and caution should always be used if pregnant. If there is a history of miscarriage this should not be used until at least the 16th week of pregnancy and then under the guidance of an herbalist
Mug Wort- Matthew Wood calls mug wort "restorative" to the injured female nature. This herb very gently increases circulation to the uterus and pelvis. Mug wort goes back to the 17th century as an herb for women. (2) Women of the Cheyenne tribe has used it for years to regulate fertility. It’s favored as a uterine stimulant. Caution: Since mug wort is a uterine stimulant it should be stopped during pregnancy.
Vitex- Vitex is warm, diffusive and normalizing for the entire reproductive system. It can help balance both estrogen and progesterone thereby addressing infertility. By bringing balance, it helps the reproductive system function optimally. However, it is a very slow acting herb and women may not see any results for three to six months. Aviva Romm suggests vitex where there is cycle irregularity (such as when a woman coming off the birth control pill) (2) Some herbalists also seem to suggest taking it during early pregnancy to keep progesterone levels high. There does not appear to be real evidence for this though- so it is always wise to check with a certified herbalist. IMPORTANT: If a woman is taking hormonal birth control pills taking Vitex at the same time is discouraged as it can render the birth control pills actions and possibly make it ineffective.
Next, we can move on to foods and how they help to prepare out body to be in the best health for pregnancy. Good nutrition can sometimes be overlooked in helping fertility along in both men and women. It is important to consider choosing a diet of while foods, some of which would include organic vegetable, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats (such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil) (3). Choosing a variety of whole foods, you will be giving your body a wide range of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to help prepare your body for pregnancy. Some foods to consider including in your diet would be:
honey or maple sugar as sweeteners
fresh green vegetables
fresh wild caught fish
Some foods to avoid would be:
"He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning" (Daniel 2:21, NIV)
Infertility is defined as difficult getting pregnant or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term. The official diagnosis of being infertile is given to couples who have been trying to conceive for one year. Infertility affects nearly 10-15 percent of couples. (4). What should a Christian couple do for infertility? Live a healthy lifestyle in preparation for pregnancy. Pray for God's will in their lives. "Every good and perfect gift is from above “James 1:17. We can also search God's bounty of herbs for help.
Red Clover - This herb is an excellent fertility herb due to the high amounts of calcium and magnesium. These minerals are very important, too little of these can affect a women's ability to conceive. Red Clover is an alkalizing herb and very effective for balancing hormones for enabling conception. Balancing your body (acid/ to alkaline PH) goes a long way to preparing your body to conceive.
Red Raspberry leaf - This is an all-around wonderful herb for women at any stage in life. It is effective for preparing a women’s body for conception as it is a highly soothing uterine tonic. (3) Red raspberry leaf is rich in minerals and vitamins and especially high in chelated iron.
Lemon Balm - There are a few different ways lemon balm can help with conceiving. Our thyroid needs to work at optimum levels for pregnancy to last. Lemon balm is amazing at helping the thyroid do just that. With the thyroid working properly there is more chance of pregnancy going to term. Another way it is helpful is to reduce stress. Many fertility herbalists will suggest lemon balm to reduce stress and give the calming effect. High level of stress will increase adrenalin and too much adrenalin will reduce the hormone progesterone, which is very important for fertility. Since lemon balm is a natural nervine herb it makes sense to use it to reduce stress symptoms, therefore helping provide an environment to boost the chance of pregnancy. (4)
Some other ways to optimize our health in preparation for conception and pregnancy would be to start using natural household cleaning products, engaging in simple exercise and having a time of rest. God created us to have a time of rest. "Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest secure. (Psalm 16:19 NIV) It is good to prepare our body for rest or sleep. This would include turning off all electronics early in the evening, reading a book in bed, having a calming tea at bedtime and praying. These practices can all focus our minds to rest and sleep. There are many herbs for use during this time of preparation for conception. Herbs connect us to God, the only true healer. By using them to aid in conception and prepare our bodies for pregnancy, we are allowing our body to be balanced and restored to its natural state.
Disclaimer -This information is not meant to take the place of professional help or in any way diagnose or prescribe. Many herbs can be contraindicated for pregnancy. The herbs suggested in this article should be safe. However, it is always wise to check with an herbalist.
1. Natural Fertility and Wellness-Get pregnant naturally and balance your hormones. Natural fertility tips, recipes for fertility, and natural living information to help you be the healthiest you can be. (n.d.) Retrieved May 10,2016, from http://naturalfertilityandwellness.com/
2. Romm A.J. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health. St Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier
3. Herbal Remedies (n.d.) Retrieved May 10,2016, from http://www.anniesremedy.comchart_remedy.php
4. All About Lemon Balm. (n.d.) retrieved May 10,2016, from http://lemonbalm.org/
5. What is infertility. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility