During one of the most exciting — yet uncertain — times of your life after giving birth, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of postpartum products on the market. Finding aids that are both effective and safe can feel like a challenge. But it doesn't have to be!
Women have partnered with plants for thousands of years, so it's no coincidence we continue to look for plant partners through exciting life moments, including that vital but vulnerable time after giving birth to a new life. To help, we've rounded up five herbal essentials for your postpartum bag below.
1. After Birth Soaking Herbs
The very first step in caring for our bodies after giving birth is targeting delicate skin tissue or epithelial tissue. Although this tissue regenerates rapidly, we want to support its healing by partnering with astringent herbs. Witch Hazel is most popular for its cleansing and toning actions in facial sprays, but using loose-leaf Witch Hazel in an after birth warm water soak or sitzbath can be game changing! Pairing it with Comfrey, Yarrow, and Thyme makes supporting tissue regeneration much easier. Most midwives carry jars of herbal soaking herbs in their birthing kits and have new mamas sit in freshly simmered herbal soaks after giving birth. Herbs like Thyme and Yarrow support a healthy microbial balance, while Comfrey supports a healthy inflammation response to recent tissue trauma.
Comfrey. Photo credit: Lauren Ann Nichols
2. Black Haw
Historically used by many Native American healers, Black Haw root has gained a good reputation for its use in women's postpartum herbal formulas like AfterEase For After Birth Contractions. It belongs to the Cramp Bark root family and is used in more intense postpartum cramping situations, such as after-birth cramping. Viburnum prunifolium, or Black Haw, has relaxing qualities, making it helpful when your uterus is spasming out! It contains astringent, calming, and stabilizing plant compounds for harmonizing the uterus. Many women use herbal formulas containing Black Haw for several days after giving birth because it's easily taken in small amounts with tea, sparkling water, or still water for targeting in-the-moment cramping.
3. Goat's Rue
The star herb for lactation support is Goat's Rue! Breastfeeding can be one of the most delicate stages for new mamas, and choosing herbal partnerships can ease or speed up the flow. Goat's Rue is considered a galactagogue herb, meaning it supports milk production. Synergistically pairing it with Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Fennel, and Nettle leaf can amplify lactation flow and support healthy mammary tissue and volume.
4. St John's Wort Herb for Baby Blues
Postpartum blues can happen to any new mama. Our societies are not well equipped for birthing practices in general, therefore seeking guidance after birth can be challenging for many of us.
It's important to remember that giving birth is a remarkable feat. Both cesarean births and vaginal births may leave your body with trauma and your hormones, body, and baby require different attention depending on your individual case. You may feel your hormones fluctuating and a range of emotions, so give yourself time. The postpartum period can take several months to pass. Be patient with yourself and love yourself.
For moments of uncertainty or when you're encountering waves of emotions, consider an herbal partnership with St John's Wort or Hypericum perforatum. It's most popular for its uplifting qualities and a star player in Postpartum Emotional Baby Blues for postpartum blues. This gentle formula can help ground your emotions with liver and nervous system support. Be sure to check in with your practitioner first, as everyone's case is different.
5. Belly-Binding Wraps & Menses Pads
They may not seem glamorous, but period pads are essential! Since I switched to all-organic Cotton pads, monthly menses cycles are nothing to fear. Ditch scented synthetic, plastic-ridden pads — they have no place near your most sensitive area, especially after giving birth.
Muslin wraps are traditionally used for postpartum belly binding. The wrap is carefully wrapped around the abdomen and hips to provide gentle compression in order to hold your muscles, ligaments, and pelvic floor in place. Don't forget to get one made from organic cotton; handmade ones on Etsy are easy to come by.
Make Postpartum Care a Priority
Did you know postpartum issues affect 10% to 20% of new mothers in the United States? It's no surprise health care systems frustrate new mothers, especially ones from poverty-stricken communities. Reproductive health is difficult enough to navigate on a normal day, and it can be even more so when birthing beautiful blessings of life. There is a delicate balance in utilizing ancestral plant knowledge alongside modern-day health practices, so let's talk about it!
We nurture our bodies for nine months through healthy diets, supplements, and lifestyle changes; why not devote another six to nine months to caring for ourselves in the delicate stage of postpartum?
Check out our our recommendation for what new moms should have in their hospital bag after giving birth.
Lauren Ann Nichols attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Herbal Vice, a small batch skin care company, and grows the herbs used in her products. She is currently a customer service representative at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.