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A herbalist working with pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women

Added 26/06/2015

As a herbalist working in the arena of pregnancy and postpartum I am often asked whether I worry about using herbs with pregnant and breastfeeding women and my answer is no. As a qualified herbal practitioner of many years now I made a commitment to the plants a long time ago. One of the reasons I trained as a herbalists was not only my love of the plants but also I was passionate about self reliance of our health within the family. Herbal medicine offers such self-reliance and a model of wellbeing that can be discovered in any of our homes kitchen pharmacies.

I trained and consider myself part of a herbal tradition that evolved through the herbalist Dr Christopher. This model was then further developed and adapted by some of his apprentices. His message as he became a well-known and respected herbalist was summed up in the words “a herbalist in every home and a practitioner in every town “. These words are music to my heart and I use them often when speaking of herbal medicine.

I believe herbs to be safe, healing, nutritional, life affirming tools that offer their gifts to us: which can be used safely and effectively in any home. I am certainly not undermining all my years of study and then years of experience working as a practitioner. I am simply acknowledging the beauty of a model of medicine that is safe to use in our homes with our family’s symptoms and also offers the wonderful by-product of nurturing and nourishing us. This model of medicine also offers an empowerment in the self-reliance of being able to attend to our family’s ailments with healing foods and herbs stored in the kitchen cupboard.

Yes of course most families at some point are likely to encounter situations and symptoms that they feel reassured by consulting a practitioner. Also so much more can be discovered about the herbs by visiting a herbal practitioner. I recently read an article by Dr Christopher’s son who was inviting us to question why we are concerned about using herbs in pregnancy when the alternative for the patient is often being prescribed allopathic medicine; even though the patient may well be concerned about any of the side effects of allopathic medicine.

As a herbal practitioner I trust and have faith in the plants and ultimately have faith in my clients that knock on my door. So as herbalists with a great traditional model of medicine and wellbeing let’s not separate out certain life cycles in a woman’s life and consider them not suitable for using herbs. Of course I am appropriate in the choice of herbs I prescribe to pregnant and postpartum women drawing on my training and experience. My apothecary does contain mainly what could be considered backyard herbs. These plants are gentle yet powerful healers that nourish, nurture, support, sustain and affirm that it is safe for the physiology of the body to flow in its natural harmony. Some of the herbs I use daily in my practice are oat straw, nettles, raspberry leaf, holy thistle, olive leaf and more!!! All of these herbs in my opinion belong not only in a practitioner’s apothecary but also in every homes kitchen cupboard. They are safe, healing and life affirming medicines that could also be considered foods for our bodies.

Not every herbalist wants to work in particular with mothers and babies. We all have our arena that draws us and we become familiar and knowledgeable of the herbs that are most effective. As a herbalist who is passionate about this arena of pregnancy, birth and postpartum I would like to affirm that herbs offer such gifts and assistance at this wondrous time in a woman’s life. So let’s say yes to our model of medicine and health care being of assistance to everyone who is drawn to it and asks for help and support. Let’s celebrate Dr Christopher’s words “a herbalist in every home a practitioner in every town” and welcome the healing and nourishing plants into our homes.

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