Monday, September 23, 2013

Herbal Support for the Gassy Infant

Having a gassy infant is a quite common; I'm dealing with this issue with my little one.  Thankfully, there are a number of herbs that mommy can take that can pass to the infant via breast milk.  Not every baby is the same, so a little experimentation may be needed to help relieve the gas.

While I will not be going into details in this post, there are a few other non-herbal interventions that may help.  These would be clock-wise gentle tummy massage using a few drops of olive or castor oil, taking your infant to a chiropractor for adjustments, diet changes for mommy, and homeopathic remedies.

Some herbs to consider trying would be dill seed, fennel seed, anise seed (NOT star anise), caraway seed, catnip, and chamomile.  I recommend crushing the seeds as this will allow for better release of their nutrients.  These herbs are digestive aides and can help relieve gas.  These can all be taken in tea form and drunk throughout the day and even when you wake up to feed your little one at night.  I often make my daily dose and sip through the day, into the night.

My beloved mortar and pestle for crushing seeds

Like I mentioned, it make take some experimenting to find the right herb or combination for your baby.  Keep in mind, though, that some babies just need more time to grow and mature and eventually will grow out of the gassy stage.  Hang in there, mamas!

Fennel and anise seeds waiting to be crushed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Postpartum Stress and Sleep Support

Having a new little one is no easy thing!  While it's a precious time, it is an exhausting time.  The needs of an infant sometimes seem limitless and add to that the interrupted nights sleep, leaves a mommy needing some good herbal support.

Nervines, herbs that support the nervous system,  gentle sedatives, and tonic herbs are often needed.  Some of my favorite herbs that fall in these categories and are often used postpartum are lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, oat straw (which was discussed in my previous post, as this is also an excellent nutrient herb), motherwort, and ashwagandha.  Thankfully, many of these calming soothing effects will pass to your infant via your breast milk.  As with all herbs, be sure to check with your practitioner/physician before taking them.

Lemon Balm - Truly one of my favorite herbs!  I love it's light lemony taste.  Not only is this herb a gentle tonic for the nervous system, it is also very uplifting to the mood and emotions.  It's calming effects will also pass to your infant.  This herb also helps with anxiety and is an anti-viral to boot!  With it's bright lemony taste, this is a perfect herb to take in tea form.

Lavender - Lavender can be added to tea, but my favorite form of use is the essential oil.  Lavender is very soothing and relaxing to the nervous system and a great sleep aide.  There are very few essential oils that I use around an infant, as there are very few studies showing safety, but lavender is one that is commonly used.  One very easy way to use the oil is to place a drop or two on a cotton ball and place that on your nightstand, next to your bed.  The soothing oil will help promote a restful night of sleep.

Chamomile - This lovely herb will help to combat anxiety and will help to encourage a restful night of sleep.  It also is a digestive aide and will help with gassiness in an infant.  Chamomile calms nerves and will help relieve stress.  It has so many other benefits, including being an immune booster - it's just a wonderful herb!  It's bright apple-like scent is best enjoyed in a tea.

Motherwort - This herb is a perfect go to to help ease nervous tension, anxiety, and irritability.  It is a bitter herb, so taking it in tincture form would be more pleasant that tea.  This is a perfect herb to have on hand, especially right after giving birth, as it is also a uterine tonic and will help with the after-birth cramping and assists the uterus in returning to it's pre-pregnancy size.

Ashwagandha - An herb that helps the body adapt to stress, ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogenic herb.  It is a gentle tonic that helps to support the adrenal system as well as the immune system.  It also has a mild sedative effect on the nervous system and helps to combat anxiety and insomnia.  Ashwagandha has a strong taste, so taking it in tincture form would be more palatable than in a tea.

I buy most of my herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs (link listed on the right side of my blog).

(This is an affiliate post.  This in no way affects your costs and using my link is a way to say thank you and help support this blog.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Herbs for Postpartum Milk Support

There are so many wonderful herbs that can be taken for increased milk supply.  These herbs, along with a healthy organic whole foods diet, should be able to keep up an ample milk supply.  Speaking with a lactation consultant is also a great idea if your milk supply is struggling.

I mentioned in a previous post some nutritive herbs.  Two of these, nettle and alfalfa are also great herbs to help promote your milk supply.  Full of vitamins and minerals, these are great to take regularly.

One herb that is commonly used for milk supply is fenugreek.  I personally do not recommend this herb, as it can alter blood sugar levels, lowering them, and should not be taken by those who have diabetes.  It has also been known to occasionally cause gas in babies (and who wants that, right??).  I know that many herbalist recommend this herb, but since there are so many other herbs that can help with supply, I recommend trying those first.

Two other herbs that can be used are anise seed (NOT star anise) and fennel seed.  These are also good herbs to try is your baby is gassy.  They can be taken in tea form (I recommend crushing them first) and add a lovely taste to your herbal teas.

My anise and fennel seeds waiting to be crushed for tea!

Other herbs that can be used are blessed thistle, milk thistle seed (recommend this one in tincture form), and red raspberry leaf.

A few non-herbal things that can help maintain milk supply would be getting enough rest, lowering stress, staying well hydrated, and frequent feedings (around every 2-3 hours).

Herbs can be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs (link on the right side of my blog).  I buy most of my herbs in bulk from MRH and it is a cost effective way to purchase whatever herbs you want to try.

(This post contains affiliate references.  This in no way affects your price.  By clicking on my link, you are simply saying "thank you" and helping to sustain this blog.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Postpartum Nutrient Herbs

I'm enjoying my little new one so much!  She is a sweet, precious little girl, and sure keeps her mama busy!  I am also enjoying all the herbal teas I made while I was still pregnant to have for postpartum recovery time.  I simply made huge jars of the dried blends, where I can easily measure out the day's dose and don't have to go through the trouble of making a daily blend.

I made a number of different blends and have been using a variety of herbs, but the nutrient herbs are some of my favorites.  They may not taste the best (blending with a little bit of mint can help the taste factor), but I know that they are providing extra vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are critical for postpartum recovery and breast milk production.

I have been taking my nutrient herbs in tea form, making an infusion (you can read about making infusion in my post HERE.)  This is a quick and easy way to enjoy these herbs.  I typically make the days dose in the morning and sip on it all day long.  I drink my herbal teas unsweetened, but I know others who enjoy their teas with a little raw honey.

Oat Straw:
     This is one of my favorite nutrient herbs because not only does it contain minerals like calcium and magnesium, it is a nervine, which means it is a tonic for the nervous system.  Great for the stresses of caring for a new little one.  It is also high in vitamin A, silicon, and chromium.  It is nourishing to the hair and helps to promote restful sleep.  It also nourished the endocrine and circulatory systems, and has many other benefits.

      This amazing herb has a huge variety of health promoting components.  It is very rich in many vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin K.  Nettles are also a good source of amino acids and carotenoids.  It can help with anemia and boost breast milk production.  Among it's many other health benefits, it is also a cleansing herb and helps to get rid of metabolic wastes.

     Alfalfa is another great source for vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, some trace elements, and vitamins A, E, and K.  It can help to flush out toxins and get rid of water retention.  It has many more benefits, but those are a few of my favorites.

Buying these herbs in bulk is a cost effective way of obtaining these herbs.  One of my favorite sources is Mountain Rose Herbs, where I buy most of my herbs.  I have a link listed on the right side of my blog if you want to take a peek.

As with all herbs, be sure to consult with your medical practitioner before adding them to your diet.

(This is an affiliate post.  Using my link will not change your price, but will give me a small commission and is a way to help support this blog.  Thank you!).