Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Experience With Herbal Teas During Pregnancy

My experience and review using herbal teas quite liberally toward the end of my last pregnancy was wonderful. I didn't drink any during the 1st trimester last time; I waited until about 28 weeks pregnant before I drank the Pregnancy Tea, and started at about 33 weeks before drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

  I began with 1 cup a day of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for about a week, then upgraded to 2 the 2nd week, and 3 the 3rd. Then I drank about 3-5 until I had my baby (he was 2 weeks late!). Pregnancy Tea was about 1-2 cups a day, depending on if I felt all tea-ed out!

   I felt relaxed after having a cup, especially while at work or when I got home from a long day. Energy levels were good, all things considered. The biggest thing of note, which according to my research is common, is the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea started practice contractions, especially as I got further along. This is how the tea was able to help me with a shorter 2nd labor stage, by doing most of the work and toning several weeks before my due date

One thing I have noticed in my studying of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, it is said in some places to be connected with higher C-section rates. Let me counter with this: 

The tea starts the practice contractions which can cause the mother to believe she's in labor for real and rush to the hospital. They may check her, feel she's dilated enough for it to be possible (it's not uncommon to be over/around 5cm dilated for several weeks before labor, every woman's body progresses differently even with each pregnancy), check her in, only to have labor "stall" (which would be the tea finished with the "toning" session) and then start the mother on pitocin to try and force the contractions to keep going. Pitocin is very hard on mother and baby, and jump starting labor when the body isn't ready is what leads to most complications because of the strain it places on both mother and baby, which in turn leads to a C-section because of the prolonged stress. Read more about this process in one of my favorite books Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.   

I had at least 4 times that I remember thinking "This is the moment!". However, the contractions would quit after awhile and I'd be back to waiting. Instead of being disappointed (too much!) I kept telling myself it was a good thing, I was getting most of the work of labor out of the way now which would mean an easier time when the big event happened! For me, that ended up being the case, resulting in the easiest most amazing birth I've had yet.

My 2nd stage maybe lasted 30 minutes or so. I know I didn't notice, and time didn't lag enough for me to ask how long it'd been. It was so smooth.

Okay, now that I've covered my experience and review of herbal teas during my pregnancy, let me give a quick little overview on the benefits of some key ingredients in pregnancy herbal teas:

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Helps tone the uterus and prepare for childbirth. Helps ease morning sickness (decide whether drinking it during the 1st trimester is right for you). Can relieve bleeding/irritated gums that can come from pregnancy (I had this with my last one). Gives a rich source of calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. Can help shorten the 2nd stage of labor (this was the case for me!). Check out the title links for more thorough info. 

Strawberry Leaf Tea: High in Vitamin C & K, Calcium and Magnesium + Potassium. It also has folic acid. This tea is beneficial for breast milk preparation/production as well as helping to prevent newborn jaundice because of the vitamin K. 

Stinging Nettle Leaf Tea: High in Magnesium, Calcium and Iron. This herbal tea is great for stomach issues, bloating and even constipation.

Now there are "mixed" opinions on whether herbal teas are "safe" for pregnancy. I have looked into it and my research has led me to these 3 points:

1.  FDA hasn't approved herbal teas because there hasn't been enough research done on them and their affects on the mother and baby. This doesn't mean they're considered dangerous by the FDA, just "not enough 'proper' research done".

2.  It's actually a good thing, in my opinion, that FDA hasn't approved herbal teas. If they did, they would control how you got herbal tea (over the counter or through a prescription) and the red tape for selling it would be horrendous because it'd be treated like a drug. Herbs have been around for centuries and their healing/boosting qualities are well known and documented, sometimes you have to dig a little, but it's there. Having the freedom to use them without government control or knowledge is a blessing! The ability to self-doctor is so valuable, especially with all the Healthcare issues going on in our country. Here's an interesting link to some more in depth explanation of Herbal Medicine Versus the FDA. The author gives some good food for thought.

3. There are many personal experiences out there that support herbal teas for pregnancy being helpful. I spent hours & hours reading forums and websites explaining the science behind the different ingredients. I made the personal choice to drink herbal tea based off of what I'd learned, and then informed my doctor during that pregnancy. I didn't ask her if I could, I told her what I was drinking, why I was drinking it, and how it would help me. She said she'd heard about it, but didn't know enough to comment one way or the other. 

In the end, I believe it's my body and my baby, and I want what's best for both of us. Most of all, I want to know for myself what is going on, not just blindly trust anyone. Self education is empowerment and enlightenment. Giving birth is a natural, beautiful and personal experience that deserves my utmost attention, knowledge and care. I feel it is my responsibility to learn and make my own decisions, while also trusting my intuition and motherly instincts. 

Fit N Fancy for Life, ~~Caroleena Kay

*****Please NOTE: I am not a healthcare professional, nor have I had any expensive, official college education on my blog's subject matter. I have had 3 children naturally, at home, unassisted. I was able to feel comfortable doing so because of my extensive research. I have spent many hours reading books (most written by officially educated healthcare professionals), studying websites, picking the brains of those who have had multiple children at home, as well as watching at home birthing videos. I am sharing my knowledge and experience for inspiration purposes! Please be responsible and do your own due diligence before deciding if a herbal tea and home birth is right for you.********


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