Disclaimer: Shonda is NOT a doctor or other licensed healthcare professional. She is a mother who has long used herbal and nutritional medicine in her family. Although she is a clinical herbalist and certified childbirth educator, all answers to questions below reflect more a mother-to-mother sharing of information gathered from a wide variety of resources. Shonda’s answers do not reflect medical advice in any form or fashion and should not be construed as such. If you choose to utilize any of the therapies Shonda uses or recommends, you are doing as you are called to do by God – personally choosing to be the steward of your body rather than depending upon others for your healthcare decisions.
What you see here are recommendations for a wide variety of herbal products and name brands for each family to choose their own favorites. We are not aligned with nor do we answer to any supplement company for the education or recommendations we provide.
Acne in Early Pregnancy
Q. I just recently discovered your website and am looking forward to using one of the pregnancy formulas later on in my pregnancy. I am 12 weeks pregnant and am breaking out on my back and face more than usual. Let me note, it is not anything major, just enough to bother me, and I have never broken out on my back before. I was wondering if there was something I could take to help with my skin, something safe with pregnancy? Any input would be appreciated, thanks for your time.
A. Sara, I’ve found that liver support is an important factor in preventing acne during pregnancy. Since the liver is responsible for “detoxing” the additional hormone production from mom’s bloodstream, support of liver function helps to keep the amount of hormone in the system steady and not of an excess that causes undesirable discomforts. Dandelion is excellent liver support as is milk thistle, my personal favorite. In addition, there are several fine topical products that may be used during pregnancy that primarily use tea tree oil to reduce bacteria on the skin that aid acne formation. Enzymatic Therapy has Derma-Klear to be used topically to reduce acne lesions. We’ve also found a Burt’s Bees product “Blemish Stick” to work wonders on getting rid of the lesions quickly.
Alfalfa Intake in Pregnancy
Q. First of all, thanks for all you do to help educate us. I have two of your books, and they are the ones I turn to most often when something comes up. I am 28 weeks pregnant. My midwife has had me taking liquid chlorophyll to raise my hemoglobin count, which she found to be a 10. It's not so terrible, but it was staining my teeth. I ordered chlorophyll capsules and noticed today when they came in that the main ingredient is 600mg of Alfalfa. In my reading tonight in Naturally Healthy Pregnancy, I noticed alfalfa in your list of herbs to avoid during pregnancy.
So, now I'm wondering:
1. Is there a difference between liquid chlorophyll and these chlorophyll capsules?
2. Is one safer to take than the other? Why did one of the midwives in your E-Mag say not to stop chlorophyll once you start it?
My hemoglobin is now at 12. I'm just not sure what I should do. I would sure appreciate any suggestions you might have.
A. Cindy, I prefer to take liquid chlorophyll capsules, which usually come from an alfalfa or nettles herbal source. Some makers of “chlorophyll” capsules merely place alfalfa in the capsules and call it chlorophyll. While certainly alfalfa is full of natural chlorophyll, I would prefer a more direct label that helps the consumer know exactly what they are purchasing. The reason alfalfa is listed in the herbs to avoid during pregnancy is because of mild estrogenic properties in alfalfa. In addition, alfalfa seeds can cause a lupus-like condition in certain individuals. Since the liquid chlorophyll capsules have extracted only the chlorophyll from the plant, I feel more comfortable using them rather than alfalfa plant capsules in high daily dosages as often occurs when a mom is trying to bring up her hemoglobin count quickly. The midwife who made the comment about not discontinuing the chlorophyll intake once you begin did so due to her personal observation that these women tend to bleed more heavily at birth than those who either did not take the chlorophyll at all or those who used the chlorophyll continuously until after the birth.
Asthma and Milk Thistle
Q. 2 questions for you!
1. Should milk thistle be taken with meals or between meals? The bottle gives no instructions on that.
2. How do you deal with asthma attacks during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester? I try my best to avoid my allergens but seem to be getting worse all the time, and we haven't even entered the pollen season yet. Frankly, even though I don't believe in birth control, I am scared to get pregnant and have my unborn baby hurt by my asthma. Can I use my albuterol inhaler at all? I know about using lobelia and capsicum for asthma attacks, but I doubt that would be safe, since I seem to remember that they are both contraindicated during pregnancy. Help!
A. Before I answer your questions, I need to first clarify that I am not a physician; therefore, I am unable to direct you to use or not use your prescribed medications. I can share with you mother-to-mother what I would feel comfortable doing and as one who believes that body systems may be supported with nutrient-dense foods and herbs. To your first question, milk thistle may be taken with or between meals, although since it supports healthy liver function, I prefer to take it with meals. As to your asthma attacks: Because asthma causes great strain on the heart as it tries to pump more oxygen to cells in the asthma oxygen-deprived condition, not treating asthma attacks is not an option. I would discuss the use of your albuterol inhaler during pregnancy with your allergist as well as medications such as Cromolyn sodium which reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. As with all medications, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, the question of use involves evaluating risk versus benefit, I think most physicians and herbalists would agree that pharmaceutical treatment of asthma would be less of a risk than no treatment. The herbs that are traditionally used during asthma attacks are contraindicated during pregnancy, ephedra and lobelia, for instance. You certainly could consider preventive measures such as the use of quercitin and bromelain to reduce allergic inflammation as well as essential fatty acids such as flax seed oil.
Bicornate Uterus and Pitocin in Labor
Q. You and your lovely book have been so helpful to me in this pregnancy, and I want to thank you once again. I am at 5 months now with #3 (the others are 9 and 7), and beginning to turn my thoughts toward preparation for labor and delivery. I have some unusual circumstances. I have a bicornate uterus (quite rare), which prevents my contractions from effectively producing dilation (the top portion of my uterus splits into two chambers, like a heart-shape; hence there is so much room at the top that contractions do not push the baby's head onto my cervix enough to effect any change). As I said, this is rare, and with my
first labor we were not prepared for the consequences -- I labored 48 hours at home to no avail, and learned I was not even dilated to a 1 when we finally went to the hospital. When my ob/gyn deciphered the problem, I was given loads of pitocin, a muscle relaxer and an epidural and FINALLY dilated. It was 63 hours total, and I had 4th degree muscle lacerations. Second baby, I went to the hospital after about 8 hours at home, got tanked up with pitocin and an epidural (which seems to help make my cervix 'bloom') and we reduced it to 17 hours -- long, but good for a bicornate. It's a blessing that my doctor isn't prone to caesareans!
My question is obvious. What do you know of that might help me get through this? It's been 7 years since I last gave birth, and I hear all those tales about big gaps like that making your body react like it's a first labor again. But I am 10 years older than I was then! (38 now) I appreciate any advice you can give. I might add that I usually have *plenty* of good, strong Braxton-Hicks in the last four months (they have not started up noticeably yet).
Blessings to you and yours,
A. I'm so glad you are enjoying the book! First of all, just because it's been awhile since you birthed a baby, your body hasn't forgotten how to complete the process. And ten years is only ten years!
Actually, I would prepare prior to labor just as directed in the book with LaborPrep and especially with Evening Primrose Oil (2,000 mg daily – I usually also take 1,000mg flax seed oil as well). Since you have plenty of strong Braxton-Hicks, the Labor Prep would be my last 5-6 weeks of pregnancy preparatory formula choice as it aids in softening the cervix without adding an uncomfortable amount of Braxton-Hicks. For women without good “practice” contractions, who may also have difficulty with strong contractions during labor without regular, progressive dilation, I would choose either PN-6 or 5-W, with at least 1 dose of Labor Prep daily for those last 5 weeks. The last few days/week of pregnancy, some midwives use a menstrual cup or cervical cap into which they squeeze (empty) capsules of evening primrose and apply directly to the cervix for extra softening. It does sound like you may have found a doctor who is most helpful in the quest for a vaginal birth. There are physical circumstances that require intervention. The pitocin/epidural combo is not always a bad combo. In fact, for some women, this may be the only way to have a vaginal birth. Do your best beforehand and trust God to direct your body and your interventions during!
Q. I'm getting married in June, and I'm trying to decide what form of birth control to use. I have considered two options: Natural Family Planning and Ortho Tricylen. I am leaning towards using ortho tricylen. As an herbalist, what is your opinion on this type of birth control? Here's my quick health
profile: PCOS - I take Chromium, multi vitamin, and b-complex. I don't eat sugar or white flour products. I seem to be ovulating and doing well on this plan. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
May His Love overwhelm you today!
A. Laura, I cannot recommend the use of birth control pills due to their possible abortifacient activity. Most women, and even most physicians, are either not aware of this activity or they do not apply the same definition of life that I do. For me, life begins at conception; therefore, if a birth control method actually inhibits the implantation of a newly-formed life, I would call it abortifacient rather than birth control. Natural family planning has over a 99% success rate when used correctly and does not utilize any chemicals that could be detrimental to mom or a developing baby. The downside of NFP is abstinence at the time of ovulation that might be difficult for some couples. Due to the multitude of side effects associated with birth control pill usage and your increased risk factors due to PCOS, I would definitely recommend you research carefully before utilizing “the pill” as a birth control method. You should be able to find NFP classes or teaching materials at www.ccli.org .
Blood Pressure and Pregnancy
Q. What do you recommend (herbal or dietary) to lower border-line high blood pressure during pregnancy? With both of my pregnancies, my blood pressure has risen to the point where my practitioner was on the verge of wanting to treat it with a prescription. Both times, I increased my calcium and potassium intake, and it remained right at the border of what the doctor was comfortable with, without going over. I never experienced any symptoms of high blood pressure, other than the reading. I hope to be pregnant again soon and am trying to proactively research ways to maintain a mid-range "normal" value throughout the entire pregnancy.
Thank you so much.
A. Because hypertension is a more complex health issue than a simple answer of “take this for that,” I’m going to recommend you go to the page of our website where we have our Botanical Protocols listed and purchase the Botanical Protocol packet for High Blood Pressure/Hypertension. Dietary factors certainly influence blood pressure, and there are herbs that may be used during pregnancy to keep blood pressure in a safe range for mom and baby. To encourage you, the research literature clearly shows that mild to moderate high blood pressure is best treated naturally through diet, exercise and nutritional medicine as the pharmaceuticals usually prescribed actually increase one’s risk of heart disease.
Carry On Formula
Q. I have a friend who was wondering if it would be okay for her to use CarryOn formula by TriLight Herbs to help prevent preterm labor? She has had to be bed-ridden by 24-26 wks & on IV meds to stop labor with each of her previous pregnancies. Once the IV meds are no longer are effective (32-35wks.), the baby is then born. Any suggestions or other info would be appreciated. Thanks.
A. Rebekah, Carry On may be and has been used to prevent pre-term labor; however, your friend should discuss her desire to use the formula with her midwife or physician. She certainly would not want to risk having the baby early due to a desire to avoid the medications. The meds are giving her baby much needed time to mature and grow in the best environment, her womb. Since the herbs have no guarantee of effectiveness, I would personally work with my maternal care provider to achieve a good blend of herbal and pharmaceutical medicine to prolong the pregnancy to as near term delivery as possible.
Colloidal Silver During Pregnancy
Q. I am group-B strep positive and would like to use colloidal silver to get rid of the bacteria. Is this safe to use during pregnancy?
A. I will address a couple of concerns that I have about the use of colloidal silver: I have always been concerned about the use of NSA water filters because they use a silver-impregnated filter which allows a very small amount of silver into the drinking water. Silver, as with all heavy metals, can build-up in body tissue over the long-term. Small amounts are not the problem. Long-term use can be. Since silver can build-up in the body, toxicity is possible. Since we want to avoid all possible toxicity during pregnancy, I probably would not feel comfortable using colloidal silver (colloidal means that the metal/mineral has been processed in such a way to increase bioavailability to the body; it’s still an inorganic metal/mineral at the core, just bound to more “organic” substances) during pregnancy nor would I ever recommend its use during pregnancy. There are many herbs that are safer and even pharmaceuticals that I would consider safer to use during pregnancy than using a heavy metal that would pass to my baby. Each of us has to weigh the benefit/risk ratio for ourselves, however. Some do feel comfortable with this practice, and that is fine as long as the risks are known. We are all responsible for our own health care, whether we utilize herbs, minerals, metals or pharmaceuticals. Know your benefits. Know your risks. Make your own decision and be willing to deal with any consequences.
Q. I have a question concerning my use of Echinacea. While I was pregnant with my sixth child, I came down with bronchitis, though I didn't know it. I thought I had a really bad cold. I was using a store bought form of Echinacea quite often for about two months. I cannot remember the exact doses (I ended up going to the doctor and was put on antibiotics). After I had the baby, I would take the Echinacea whenever I felt run down. I didn't take it very much because after the third time I noticed that I vomited later that day whenever I took it. Could that be a possible allergic reaction to it? I haven't tried it again and it has been two years since that time. I'm afraid to experiment again with it. Do you have any other suggestions that I could use instead do Echinacea?
A. Belinda, usually the side effects you mention, nausea and vomiting, occur only with IV administration with the herb. I guess my primary concern would be with the amount you were taking, if, indeed, it was the echinacea that was causing the problem. The usual dosage is 500-1,000mg that may be taken every two hours as needed during an acute infection. There really is no other way to know if it was the echinacea that caused the problem unless you are willing to try it again. Did you vomit each and every time after using the herb, during and after your pregnancy. For the herb to be the problem, you would have to have the reaction each and every time, consistently. In terms of alternatives to the echinacea, there is not an herb that performs quite in the same way as echinacea; however, elderberry may be used during colds and flu and has been studied and found to be effective in reducing severity of symptoms and length of illness. Astragalus may be used as a general immune stimulant. Many herbs may be used during specific infections that are reported to be effective in combating the illness. If it were me, I would probably try to re-construct the events of my echinacea taking, make certain I was not overdosing myself, make certain that the response was consistent, then I would try it again if I had any doubts. To keep from having the placebo effect make me sick because I’m scared of the echinacea, I would maybe have my husband bring me the capsule of echinacea on one day, another herb on the next day, without telling me which was which and see what the response might be. I hope it was not the Echinacea, as it would not be an herb I would want to eliminate from my herb cabinet.
Fasting and Cleansing Before Pregnancy
Q. I am so thankful for your suggestion of using milk thistle to help the liver cleanse the body prior to pregnancy. I have always gotten very sick with all my pregnancies except my one miscarriage. I am really hoping that the milk thistle will help. I am wondering how much to use and which are the better brands. I bought some Nature's Way "Thisylin" which says to take 3 doses every day. Also, though I have begun this program a few days ago it is highly possible that I am already pregnant! I assume it will still be helpful to take the milk thistle?
Lastly, I have in the past done cleansing fasts. I was told several years ago though that one should never fast when nursing as the baby will get the toxins through the milk. I was referred to an expert in the field who told me not to fast at all, not even one meal! Not what I was expecting to hear.
Anyway, what do you think about my doing an organic fruit/vegetable fast for about a week? Is that likely to help? If I am already pregnant, I, of course, want to do whatever I can to avoid the sickness. I am in the
process of weaning my toddler, but it will probably take me about a month until she is completely off the breast. If I start this type of fast next week, I will only be about 3 weeks pregnant. Or should I wait until I wean as the toxins will still be dangerous to my 15 month old?
Thank you so much for any help you can give me!
God bless you,
A. Alana, fasting causes one’s body to go into immediate preservation mode, which means toxins in the body are released from tissue into the bloodstream, which will pass directly into a growing babe in the womb or a nursing infant through the breastmilk. I usually wait until my babies are over a year old and eating other foods regularly besides sole dependence on momma-milk.
During the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, particularly the first six weeks, baby is developing major organ systems. This is absolutely not a good time for fasting or cleansing. The last thing mom wants to do is create more work for the liver at this point (an overburdened liver is more likely to make mom feel sick), as well as not wanting to pass harmful substances to baby. Cleansing/fasting, per a study done by the magazine Natural Health showed effective reduction in heavy metal content of the body as well as increase in good bacteria in the gut after a month-long cleanse with vegetarian diet (the Pure Body Program from The Pure Body Institute performed best of all of the cleanses). To achieve reduction, however, these metals have to be excreted. To be excreted, they are first in the bloodstream. Do you see the problem? Everything in mom’s bloodstream goes directly to baby in the womb or to baby at the breast. Baby would get some of these before mom can metabolize them, and mom’s metabolic processes are already slowed down due to natural effects of pregnancy. Anne Frye’s book, Understanding Diagnostic Tests in the Childbearing Year, states emphatically that women should never attempt fasting or cleansing during pregnancy. After many years of midwifery, Anne has even found that women who dramatically alter their diet (from heavy junk food to complete whole foods) experience problems with their health during their pregnancy.
I could not recommend a fast or cleanse at any point during pregnancy and could not recommend a fast or cleanse while solely breastfeeding baby, either. I would concentrate on liver support with continued milk thistle supplementation as the German Commission E Monographs state no contraindication for milk thistle during pregnancy. Good whole foods and an excellent prenatal are a mom and baby’s best building blocks to health. Red raspberry and nettles are great supplements, with added ginger for nausea. More details may be found in the Naturally Healthy Pregnancy book.
5-HTP in Pregnancy
Q. I am familiar with your work after years of hanging around HAH, and being on Vickilynn's email list on and off as well. A little over four years ago, I was on 5HTP for depression. I was nursing at the time, and the naturopath simply had me keep an eye on young one (who was rather large, and out of the newborn stage). For approximately the past two years, I have been on Zoloft for PPD. Now pregnant with #5, the Zoloft is making me ill. I have been off of it for several weeks, and it is clear that I need *something* to keep me on a level playing field. I have been searching for information on the safety of 5HTP while pregnant and am coming up with nothing. Do you have ANY information at all about the 5HTP and pregnancy? Please help!
A. Tanna, I was able to track down a caution for use during pregnancy, in fact, a direct “not intended for use during pregnancy.” This makes perfect sense as one of the actions of 5-HTP is to reduce appetite and aid in weight loss, two actions very undesirable for pregnancy. Have you considered St. John’s wort, which is not contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding? This might be a natural alternative to discuss with your physician. If you choose to take the St. John’s wort, a standardized product taken daily would be the best form of the herb to take.
Garlic in Pregnancy
Q. In regards to garlic, is it a blood thinner? I was told this by a friend. Would it be safe to use in pregnancy if it is a thinner?
A. The actions of garlic are: antibacterial, antimycotic, lipid-lowering, inhibition of platelet aggregation, prolongation of bleeding and clotting time, and enhancement of fibrinolytic activitiy. This indicates that that garlic could be part of a “blood thinning” regimen. Garlic has no contraindications for use during pregnancy. In fact, garlic is highly desirable for persons of all ages. Babies even like it in mommy milk, when mom eats the garlic and baby then nurses longer and stronger!
Ginger Dosage for Nausea
Q. A friend gave us some ginger tincture for first trimester nausea. How much is safe for my bride to take?
A. JB, how kind of you to write asking how to make your bride feel better! Ginger is usually taken in capsule form for nausea at a dosage of 1,000mg every 2-3 hours as needed, not to exceed 20,000 mg daily.
Q. I am wondering about using ginger during pregnancy. I have read that it is potentially unsafe. I see that you use it in the Morning Soothe formula by TriLight Herbs, and I am wondering what your thoughts are on this. Have you heard of it being unsafe?
A. Jeanette, ginger has actually been studied for use during pregnancy for women with hyperemesis gravidum, excessive vomiting during pregnancy, with good results. Due to this herb actually having some history of research during pregnancy, ginger is believed to be safe during pregnancy in dosages generally recommended for nausea.
Q. I just wanted to give you a quick update after our last phone conversation, when I called you in a panic over having cramping. I took the Cramp Bark as you recommended, and it stopped within 15 minutes. It returned the next afternoon, and another dosing did the trick again. I've had no cramps since then. Thank you so much!
Also, I've been faithfully taking the Milk Thistle 3 times each day, along with a couple of quarts of lemon water and a steady supply of B6. I've also been sipping a cup of Milk Thistle tea here and there. I'm at 6 weeks come Monday, and no nausea yet.... one little episode of woozies was nipped in the bud with almonds and ginger caps. I figure this coming week is the acid test. I typically start having morning sickness just shy of 5 weeks.
Another thing that seems to help is having a powdered protein drink before bed and first thing in the morning. I am mixing it with Enhanced Rice Dream. Also, Powerbar has a new "Harvest" version of their high protein energy bars, which are also high in B6 and other nutrients. The regular Powerbars are a little gooey for my taste, but these are more like granola bars. They are not too sweet, and have fruit in them -- apples, strawberries, or cherries. They will turn a sinking spell around for me fairly quickly. I buy them at health food stores, but a friend found them at my local supermarket also. They come in foil wrappers so they're good to throw in your bag for emergencies!
The one time I felt HORRENDOUS was after having a big ice cream cone one evening at the mall. I went to bed shaky and achy and woke up feeling completely wiped out -- fatigue, headachy, queasy, the works. I have been avoiding sugar anyway, but that episode underscored your section in the book on hypoglycemia for me. No more sugar for this mama!
By the way, Rachel Green emailed me ecstatic over receiving your book! I had raved to her about it just the day before it arrived! You were so dear to send her a copy. Thank you for taking care of my friend! I am LOVING the book -- wish I had had it 10 years ago! God bless you for all your efforts. Do you also have a book for family herbal care?
Finally, a quick question -- what do you think of hair highlighting during pregnancy? I have my hair foil highlighted about every 8 weeks. It's in bad need of attention right now! The solution does not have much contact with the scalp with foil, for what it's worth.
Grace & peace,
A. Lynn, thank you so much for the wonderful review of The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy. I’m glad Rachel is enjoying the book. And most of all, praise God that the cramping stopped, and your little one is growing well inside your womb.
I do have another book on family care entitled “Mommy Diagnostics.” It’s available in local Christian bookstores, Books-a-Million stores and through many mail-order businesses.
Back to your questions. Ladies, here’s where we all get honest (or at least I do). I, too, go in once a year after the summer to get summer highlights “foiled” in. I don’t get in the sun too much due to family melanoma history and a pre-melanoma myself at the early age of 25. Since I’ve been avoiding excessive sun exposure since that time, I choose to artificially add them. I do not do highlighting during pregnancy until after the 20th week after consultation with physicians and chemists regarding the chemicals inhaled during the highlighting procedure (or permanent or temporary colors either at home or in salons). I try to avoid the highlighting altogether, but I have had it done during two pregnancies. Now that some beauty salons carry and use only the Aveda organic and naturally-derived hair and highlight colors, I feel much more comfortable when needing to get some highlights to go over the dark hair that usually grows in during my pregnancies when I’m taking high doses of iron (iron supplementation can and does darken hair color).
Thank you again for the glowing remarks, and grace and peace to you and your family!
Q. My husband and I had our second child one month ago, a beautiful baby boy. I had a home birth again, and, again, I hemorrhaged. With my first birth, I hemorrhaged (we think) because the placenta detached early. This time the placenta ripped off of the uterine wall and practically chased Javan out. My mother-in-law said that when the head came out, she could see the placenta right next to it. Both times I had to stay in bed and then basically sit for a week. I know that you need rest after a birth, but I want my recovery time to be from birth itself, not from hemorrhaging every time. Is there anything thing preventative that I can do or take so that it won't happen the next time? During my pregnancy, I took prenatals, calcium/magnesium and zinc tabs, vitamin E, and I took the Labor Prep for 5 weeks before the birth. Should I add to or take away any of these? Thank you for your time, and thank you for your wonderful books. The Lord is using you in a mighty way. Your family is blessed to have you!
A. Jennifer, I am sorry your recoveries have been difficult. Hemorrhage can certainly make for a longer recovery time for mom. I would encourage you to reconsider taking zinc tablets in addition to your prenatal. Most prenatals have an adequate amount of zinc, and too much zinc can actually depress the immune system. This is unlikely to have caused your hemorrhages, but it would still be a good idea not to overdo a good thing. As long as your total vitamin E intake does not exceed 800-1,000 IU daily, I would be concerned about that nutrient either. In fact, excessive vitamin E tends to make the placenta more difficult for the body to release as it helps it embed so firmly (sometimes too deeply) in the uterine lining. My concern has more to do with your daily diet rather than the nutritional supplements you have been taking as well as evaluating maternal blood flow to your placenta. The biggest factor in placental health has to do with mom’s diet if a maternal blood flow problem can be ruled out. If you saved the placenta(s), you could send them for evaluation to Dr. Carolyn Salafia, M.D. at EarlyPath Consulting Services, www.earlypath.com . Dr. Salafia was very instrumental in helping me figure out the problem with my last pregnancy as well as giving some indication for my repeated miscarriages. As to your diet, I would recommend you keep a one-week food diary, then order our Naturally Healthy Daily Exchange System packet here on our website. Then, evaluate your diet with the ideal and see where you might make changes to prepare for the next pregnancy. I’m assuming your midwife responded quickly to your hemorrhage with either herbs or pitocin. I do know that HemHalt formula by TriLight Herbs (www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID) is very effective if given immediately after the birth to decrease blood loss.
Herb Use During Pregnancy
Q. I'm 18 weeks pregnant and my sister is about 6 weeks. We both want to optimize our use of the common "pregnancy herbs,” such as raspberry leaf, nettles, alfalfa, etc. My question is: what is the best form and preparation for these herbs as well as the best dosage? Also, any other herbal suggestions?
I ordered two of your books from Amazon.com, then came to find out they couldn't get them... so I'll soon be borrowing one from a friend.
Thanks for your help!
A. Natalie, Congratulations to you and your sister! I prefer to use the commonly used “pregnancy” herbs in an herbal tea form during pregnancy or simply get them through my prenatal vitamin (the prenatal vitamins I recommend are listed under the question heading Prenatal Vitamin). Personally, I prefer a tea with red raspberry, nettles and oatstraw mixed with a bit of apple juice concentrate for sweetening and a squeeze of lemon juice, just for some kick! One cup of the tea may be taken 2-3 times daily. If you are getting these herbs through your prenatal, it may be best to limit your tea intake to once daily.
I’m sorry you were not able to get my books through Amazon. They are still available through many mail-order suppliers, Christian bookstores, and, of course, through our business here in our home.
Q. I have a question about home birth. I have had 3 healthy low risk births, all delivered at the hospital. I would love to have a home birth for my next birth, if the Lord should so bless us. We live about 20 minutes from the nearest hospital that delivers babies. I was wondering what your opinion is on the safety of a homebirth when we live so far from a hospital with neonatal equipment. Also, I am interested in researching more into the safety of homebirths and was wondering what you consider to be the best resources to find out more about their safety.
A. Michele, I am a big believer in the safety of home birth attended by a competent maternal caregiver, particularly if your caregiver is able to carry emergency supplies that are similar or the same as what you would initially receive in the hospital (IV, pitocin, neonatal resuscitation equipment, etc.). While I’ve had some of my babies in hospital and some at home, I’ve seen the benefit of both for different women. The place where you feel safe and secure is the best place in which for you to give birth, whether home or hospital. For many years, home was that place for me. Due to significant prenatal problems in my last two pregnancies, I felt more secure with everyone at the hospital prepared for an emergency situation but giving me full support for the most natural birth I could achieve there. The first place I would go to research the safety of home birth would be the organization, NAPSAC at www.napsac.org. You might also want to consider speaking with your area midwives about how they practice and deliver care to moms to make certain you are comfortable with the same things with which they are comfortable.
Insomnia in Pregnancy
Q. I am 17 weeks pregnant and having terrible insomnia. I am also having extreme anxiety. I have
been treated medically for the insomnia and anxiety in the past. I am short tempered with my family and really distressed. Could you recommend something herbal that would not hurt my baby for the insomnia and anxiety? Can you take Kava pregnant? I hope it will not be too inconvenient for you to reply to me, I am really at the end of my rope and don't know where to turn! Thank you in Christ!
A. Well, Carolyn, I enjoy having a cup of chamomile tea in the evening before bedtime when pregnant to help me relax and unwind from the busy day of teaching older children, occupying in a fruitful manner toddlers, thinking about new book ideas, etc. Kava is not recommended for pregnancy. I did use this once or twice while pregnant with Zeb for extreme scaredy-cat-edness while Keith was traveling, but I certainly wouldn't recommend you follow my poor example! Valerian is a safer alternative. It's very effective and has no contraindication for pregnancy. Two capsules or tablets 30 minutes before bedtime is the recommended dosage (Snooze-Ez by TriLight Herbs, www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID, is an excellent choice). I sometimes get short-tempered with my family also when I’m very tired. An herb won't fix that! Unfortunately, it's usually a self-control issue, and I, too, struggle in the self-control area. “Will that Dr. Pepper really deplete my calcium levels and cause me to look all humped-over at 60?” I have been reading a lot in Lamentations of late. The encouraging word in Lamentations, for me, is that God's faithfulness is GREAT! His mercies are renewed every morning towards us. We can wait upon him faithfully. What wonderful words! The herbs will help the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety, but may I be so bold as to recommend that dwelling upon God's Word of faithfulness in sanctifying us daily through the sometimes hard circumstances of life will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness is the most important part of the treatment plan?
Labor Prep Formula by TriLight Herbs– How Does It Work?
Q. Leslie Parish, of Spirit-Led Childbirth, gave me your e-mail address because I have some questions about the product you formulated called "Labor Prep". I have never used any herbal formula intended to enhance labor before (but did use blue & black cohosh to try to initiate it once), but I am considering doing just that for this up-coming fifth birth of mine.
I am living in Germany, land of herbal/homeopathic medicine, and my midwives do have their recommended herbs, etc, but when I mentioned that I have friends who have used PN6, and things like it, they expressed interest in learning more about it. Can you provide me info on the herbal formula in question? I suppose that they would like to know what it contains, the purpose of each herb, dosing, known risks/side effects, etc. I am nearly 32 weeks pregnant.
A. Susan, The Labor Prep formula is an herbal formula that has been used by naturopaths for over 100 years to prepare women for birth. The formula does not function like PN-6 or 5-W as those formulas work to increase Braxton-hicks contractions to give the uterus a “work-out” for preparation. Some women have plenty of Braxton-hicks on their own (like me) and herbs to increase those preparatory contractions only function to make those women uncomfortable and unable to rest at night. The Labor Prep formula’s function is to utilize herbs to soften the cervix and make the cervix more pliable and ready for childbirth. The formula contains the herbs: blue cohosh, squaw vine, false unicorn and black haw. I find this formula particularly useful for those women who have a difficult time dilating during labor or those with a rigid cervix. There are no known risks to using these herbs at 35 weeks gestation at the recommended dosage of 1-3 teaspoons daily. I used this formula with my fifth child’s birth after two previous cervical lacerations and hemorrhages with previous births. My Zeb was 9 lbs., 4 oz. (a full pound and two ounces larger than my previous babies that I had the lacerations with) with not even a tiny tear in sight. I dilated more quickly in the first stage than ever before, due in some part to this being a fifth baby. I really felt it to be quite helpful. Labor Prep is a Mother’s Choice formula, available from Tri-Light Herbs at 1-800-HERB-KID or www.trilightherbs.com
Master Gland formula for Initiating Labor
Q. Your book does not state who this product is made by. If you could let me know I would appreciate it.
A. The product Master Gland, used by many midwives to help get labor started in a post-dates mom, is made by Nature’s Sunshine Products in Utah. The usual recommended dosage is 1-2 tablets every thirty minutes for 2-3 hours, then 2 tablets every 2 hours. If headache or nausea occurs at this dosage, discontinue for the day and resume at half the dosage the next day.
Milk Thistle Safety
Q. I bought your book "The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy" about a year ago. It has been a wonderful resource for me. I have one child (age 3) and have experienced two miscarriages since then. I am now pregnant --about the fifth week. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion about the safety of the use of Milk Thistle during pregnancy and should it be taken on a long term basis, or with breaks like many other herbs. Also, do you know of any other supportive herbs that are safe for pregnancy? I have been diagnosed with antinuclear antibodies but have not active lupus or anything at this point and I would like to keep it that way! Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
A. Tami, what a blessing to be pregnant again! Milk thistle has no contraindications for pregnancy or breastfeeding. It may be taken on a long-term basis without the need for “breaks.” I do prefer, personally, to use it only in preparation for pregnancy and during pregnancy rather than year-round, every year use. The herbs that are considered “pregnancy” herbs such as red raspberry, nettles, oatstraw, etc. are nutritive for the pregnant mom as are the Blue-Green Minerals by TriLight Herbs (www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID). If you’ve not consulted with a reproductive endocrinologist, you might consider it to evaluate therapies to reduce the risk of miscarriage associated with antinuclear antibodies.
Miscarriage and Trying Again
Q. I am 37 years old, and I have 4 children. In September of last year, I had a miscarriage that left us heartbroken. Since then we have been trying to get pregnant again with no success. Can you recommend anything? The doctor said it was just one of those things, and it didn’t happen for any particular reason. But I’ve had at least 6 cycles, and we have tried since we were given the green light .Can you give any advice? Thank you so much.
A. Kim, I’m very sorry for your loss. Sometimes it takes the body a few cycles to recover from miscarriage. Having been in your position a number of times, I chose to clean up my dietary habits, moving from processed foods to whole, real foods as well as chose supplements such as Vitex agnus-castus (also called chasteberry) and Be Fruitful formula (by TriLight Herbs, www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID) to regulate my cycles and increase fertility potential. Using a cleanse program such as The Pure Body Program by the Pure Body Institute helps to decrease heavy metals present in the body while increasing the good bacteria in the bowel that helps to produce our all-important B vitamins. While you would not want to cleanse after ovulation in case you might conceive, you may want to consider a two week cleanse or a one-month cleanse while abstaining during fertile times. Without question, it is an excellent idea to begin taking a good prenatal to give a newly-conceived baby the best possible environment of nutrients in which to grow. I like taking NF Prenatal Forte (NF Formulas) or Opti-Natal (Eclectic Institute) or the MultiStart Prenatal (Natural Factors) along with an essential fatty acid supplement such as Entrox by Natural Factors to prepare for pregnancy and during pregnancy.
Miscarriages – Repeated
Q. I recently experienced my 4th miscarriage in 5 years. I have made it to 19 weeks. They have not given me any suggestions as to the cause, and I've had the same doctor for all of them. I know my basal body temperature is 96.2 upon waking. I have a healthy diet with no caffeine. I'm at a complete loss, and the doctor doesn't seem to have a clue. I have to admit I don't ovulate like normal. They have had to give me hormones to stimulate normal function. When I have conceived, it was always one child, and the sonogram always shows a beautiful normal baby. We have spent 15 years raising other peoples’ children and hoped for more children of our own. In 17 years, we have birthed 3 children but hoped the Lord would allow more children to enter our home. I hope a little history might help.
God Bless You and Your Family,
A. Ramona, I am so sorry for your loss. I know how frustrating a lack of answers can be when faced with repeated miscarriages. It took 9 miscarriages for a doctor to finally offer me testing to find out what might be wrong. Still, I was not as informed then as I wish I had been regarding the tests we were doing as well as what else was available that my doctor might not have been fully up-to-date on or willing to undertake. If tissue from the baby and you was taken after your miscarriages and saved, then you could have Dr. Carolyn Salafia, M.D. (perinatal pathologist) inspect them and do a consultation with you regarding possible reasons for your pregnancy losses. My initial thought, from my own history and research, is that your basal temperature is low; it would be wise to see an endocrinologist to evaluate for healthy thyroid and pituitary function. This is particularly important in light of your ovulation history. I don’t know your age, but that can play a factor as well in overall fertility and strong, healthy eggs. Hormonal function is a delicate balance, and I do think blood tests are an excellent place to start in evaluation. If your miscarriages have been primarily in the second trimester, you might also mention the possibility of an incompetent cervix to your ob/gyn. Until you get your testing complete, continue your good diet, a daily prenatal and vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry) to help regulate your cycle and hormonal function.
Near Term Use of Circulatone, Tea Tree suppositories & CranActin
Q. I am six weeks away from my due date and planning a homebirth. I have several questions regarding natural remedies:
1. I purchased Circulatone for varicose veins and need to know if it is okay to take the dosage amount on the bottle everyday from now until delivery?
2. I have tea tree oil suppositories and CranActin (cranberry extract capsules) that were recommended to me by the health food store for a bacterial infection. Are these safe for pregnancy? The CranActin also
contains magnesium oxide, magnesium stearate and silica.
3. Can I take the above listed herbs at the same time?
Our resources locally have been exhausted, any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
A. I feel comfortable using Circulatone as needed at any point during pregnancy, even daily use. Tea tree oil suppositories may cause burning of the delicate female tissue (already inflamed from infection), but it would not otherwise harm the pregnant mom or baby. You might consider using a soothing, healing essential oil such as calendula, chamomile or Emu oil while using the tea tree suppositories. The CranActin is fine, even desirable for pregnant women to prevent UTI’s (urinary tract infections). There are no known contraindications for taking all those above at the same time.
Q. In visiting your website, I have viewed a few herbal formulas that I would be interested in to be ready to handle post labor uterine contractions and, of course, optimum breastfeeding. I’m not quite sure how your formulas are formulated. Are they tinctures, or in a capsule form. Please contact me with information regarding formulas and pricing and ordering information.
Thank you so much,
A. Elizabeth, while we don’t actually sell any nutritional supplements, even my own formulas, I am happy to answer questions about how they are processed and direct you to the company that processes them. The formula for after-birth pains and uterine cramps is ContractEase, and the increase quantity and quality of breastmilk formula is MegaMam. Both are liquid herb products in a glycerin base. TriLight Herbs was chosen as our processor due to their high potency 3-stage, low-heat process that extracts the active principles of the herbs as well as their “lesser-known” properties that help to balance them into a healthy herbal product. You can order directly from the manufacturer, TriLight Herbs at www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID.
Q. I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant. This is my 5th pregnancy. I have read your book “The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy,” and it’s been a wonderful help. One thing I did not see in your book or online was help with post-partum blues. Unfortunately I have experienced this with each pregnancy. It lasts about 2 to 2 1/2 weeks. Not too severe, but as you may or may not know, the crying can be overwhelming. My husband simply does not know what to do or how to act. And now, my little men just keep asking “Why are you crying mom?” I was wondering if there were any supplements that I could take that would help with this. Any advice would be a help.
Thank you so much for your book and advising other women to follow the Lords wisdom in all we do.
God Bless You,
A. I wish I had not neglected this area in the book – another revision project! Actually, most women have a 3rd day postpartum slump, well, to be frank, a downright drowning in tears sometimes. This is completely normal and to be expected. So many hormones and fluids are being eliminated in those first few days postpartum, and all at the same time that someone who has lived within us is now outside us, with both of us trying to figure out how to live in our new condition. I have noticed a distinct correlation with excess blood loss, for myself, during and after the birth with a longer time of the “blues.” Usually for several weeks postpartum, I am nothing other than a fiercely protective of my baby and hermit with the rest of my family sort of gal. My emotions run very high, with little things setting off my need to take care of and protect my little one. For some women, these heightened emotions become longer-lasting, in some part, I believe, when we have no regular support system with whom to relate and share our angst. If the “blues” are longer-lasting than a few days or a few short weeks (with bright times mixed in with the dark moments), St. John’s wort may be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help even out mom’s emotional lows. The herb must be taken for several weeks usually before a change may be noticed in mood, thus if you know the “blues” is your tendency, begin taking the herb prior to delivery. I tell my little ones when they see their mama crying, “Carrying and having a baby is hard work, and having that work over is hard, too. I miss having your little brother kicking inside me. The change is hard for both of us, so we both need some extra loving.” They’ve responded with plenty of hugs that make those moments dearer in reflection.
Pregnancy, Dairy Allergy and Yeast/Candida
Q. I am about 2 months pregnant, and I am 40 years old. I have a dairy allergy, and have been reading about how I need to be drinking plenty of milk during pregnancy. I do drink some soy milk with calcium (not a lot), and try to eat fairly healthy. I plan to drink pregnancy tea (with nettles, oat straw, alfalfa, and red raspberry leaves), and was wondering if there is any calcium in that. Anyway, I want to be sure that I'm getting what I need. Also, do you recommend that we take the prescribed prenatal vitamins, or simply try to get a lot of nutrients in other ways?
Thirdly, I have had a history of chronic systemic candida, and am wondering how this will affect the pregnancy and baby. I don't believe I have it very badly right now, but am unsure the best way to handle this during pregnancy. I am sure that I am eating more sugar than I need (Christmas, birthdays,
etc.). Thanks for your help.
A. I never drink milk in pregnancy. This doesn’t mean everyone shouldn’t, but since my children are all lactose intolerant during their first few years, I avoid milk since drinking cow’s milk during the last 3 months of pregnancy increases your child’s risk of milk allergy. If you have a dairy allergy, the worst thing you can continue to do is to drink milk as research has concluded that mothers who have specific allergies take in those allergenic foods during pregnancy often end up with children allergic to those same foods. The pregnancy tea, in my opinion, when combined with a good prenatal like NF Prenatal Forte or Opti-Natal is quite sufficient for calcium needs. The daily prenatal vitamin should supply a minimum of 1,000mg calcium (to a 500mg magnesium ratio), with a preferable amount of vitamin and food of 1,200mg calcium daily.
The best way to handle the candida is through avoiding refined foods, including sugar, and focusing on nutrient-dense whole, real foods, as well as taking supplements such as garlic, possibly grapefruit seed extract (in small doses when crises occur). I have taken Yeast Defense, by Nutrition Now, when I had a yeast problem for one of my pregnancies. It was very effective when combined with vaginal treatments of yogurt mixed with Emu oil (www.health-e-skin.com) and essential oils of calendula and tea tree (only a drop or so in the mixture to avoid burning and irritation). The only time I’ve not seen this work is when an overwhelming vaginal colonization of yeast has occurred. In that instance, I believe it may be best to treat with pharmaceuticals, then re-build and prevent recurrence with botanicals and lifestyle/dietary changes.
Pregnant and Tired
Q. I am in my 27th week of my 6th pregnancy. I am too tired. Yes, we are moving, and, yes, I do have 5 children, but I still feel too tired. I have started taking liquid chlorophyll (1tsp in water/day) and a vitamin B complex. I do nap, and I do get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Any other safe suggestions to boost my energy? I feel very early to be this tired.
A. Well, Cindy, you are moving, and you do have five children. Actually, many women feel tired during pregnancy, especially the first trimester. A certain amount of tiredness, I believe, is a good thing. It reminds us to slow down and let our nutrients go first to our growing babes in the womb. Extreme tiredness can be helped somewhat by a good prenatal vitamin, Opti-Natal by Eclectic Institute; Prenatal Forte (my personal favorite) by NF Formulas; and others. I also think the Blue-green Minerals from TriLight herbs is an excellent daily support during pregnancy. If specific herbal intervention is necessary for the fatigue, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus) is not contraindicated for use in Do continue the naps; eat high quality whole foods; get at least 2 hours sleep prior to midnight and take those vitamins!
Q. How can I get the recommended prenatal multivitamins (NF Formula Prenatal Forte) if they are only sold to "professionals?”
A. Most midwives carry these prenatal vitamins, so you can look up midwives in your local yellow pages. Two very good birth suppliers carry the NF Prenatal formulas: In His Hands Birth Supplies (1-800- ) and Spirit-Led Childbirth (1- ).
Q. I have a couple of questions, and you are the best expert I know. My friend Rachel is 26 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby. She has a history of premature contractions and dilation. With the last child, she went into labor at 27 weeks and was successfully treated with Brethine and bedrest. She delivered at 37 weeks. She has changed doctors, and the new one is recommending Procardia for premature labor, should it occur. We're praying she won't need it, but she is uncomfortable with the idea of taking the drug since the PDR says it has been shown to cause birth defects.
I've been reading your materials and posts for a long time and know that you were on bedrest with your last baby. I just loaned Rachel my copy of Naturally Healthy Pregnancy. We are both anxious to know what you would recommend for premature contractions and cervical dilation. She called Trilight to inquire as to whether Carry On or Contract Ease would be more appropriate for but was unclear on the answer. We would be very grateful for any thoughts based on your own experience. She is anxious to have some back up alternatives in case of premature contractions so she can avoid the Procardia.
Thank you so much for your time. I have learned so much from you already.
Grace to you, Laurie
A. If I chose to use an herbal alternative to drugs used to prevent preterm labor, I, personally, would choose to combine wild yam and cramp bark or black haw TincTracts myself. You could use the Carry On, available from TriLight Herbs, 1-800-HERB-KID or www.trilightherbs.com. I would take ½ teaspoon every 6 hours with no problem, every 3-4 hours with a slight problem and every 2 hours with contractions. If I were using either the cramp bark/wild yam homemade combination or the CarryOn preventively, I would take ½ teaspoon three times daily.
SAM-E in Pregnancy
Q. Below is part of an email I received from a friend who had a baby a few weeks ago...I'm sending this to the wise women in my life in hopes of receiving an answer I can forward to her. She is asking about a supplement called "SAM-e" that she has used in the past, and wants to know if it is safe while nursing. Thanks in advance for your advice...
A. Vicki, SAM-e is considered safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, SAM-e has been successfully used to treat intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.
Severe Headaches in Pregnancy
Q. We live on several acres in Wisconsin and have a 60 tree organic fruit orchard. I took part of the first edition of your Naturally Healthy Family home study course and keep trying to set aside the money for the rest. I specifically want to ask about severe headaches during early pregnancy....what could be causing them, how can I prevent them, is there anything herbal I can treat them with?
A. Headaches during early pregnancy are generally, though not always, caused by either hypoglycemia or difficulties related to liver function and elevated hormone levels. The hypoglycemic will get headache-y when not eating protein snacks or meals every two hours. Difficulties related to liver function usually arise from circulating hormone levels being so much higher in pregnancy than in the “non-pregnant” state. I usually try to eat regularly to avoid hypoglycemia, which one can have in pregnancy yet not at any other time, and to support my liver with dandelion, bitter foods such as salad greens, fermented foods, and milk thistle, if I consider my liver needing major protection and support. Supplementing with essential fatty acids, which are so important for healthy brain function, is important, in my opinion, as well. Since 1,200 mg of calcium/600 magnesium has been shown to be so helpful in pregnancy for preventing a number of conditions, including pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, I would also be very diligent about finding a prenatal with this amount of calcium or adding more calcium to make up the difference to aid healthy circulatory function, which can be a problem for some women with migraine tendencies. Avoiding any food allergens would be another lifestyle/dietary method of reducing headaches during pregnancy.
Wormwood and Pinworm Herbal Treatment During Pregnancy
Q. I am a midwife and have an expectant mother who has pinworms. Normally black walnut and wormwood would work, but I know black walnut is not recommended during pregnancy. What about wormwood? Are there other herbs that would be better to use as an antihelminth during pregnancy.
For Healthy Moms & Babes,
A. Wormwood is listed in the "Botanical Safety Handbook" as a "Not to Be Used During Pregnancy" herb due to its thujone content, which can cause toxicity. Black walnut did not have the same pregnancy caution, although it is listed as an herb to use caution with due to significant quantities of juglone, a known mutagen in animals. I'm afraid there aren't a whole lot of herbal remedies to use that are considered safe during pregnancy besides medicinal quantities of garlic, avoiding sugar, adherence to good hygiene, and eating pumpkin seeds and figs. The herb, elecampane, contains the chemical alantolactone that helps expel intestinal parasites and protozoa, especially pinworms and Giardia lamblia. The usual recommended dosage is 2-3 capsules three times daily. Elecampane is also listed as a Class 2B herb, meaning it is not recommended for use during pregnancy; however, it does not function as an abortifacient or have bowel-stimulant properties. The reason for its classification appears to be found in the German Commission E monographs that list elecampane as an unapproved herb due to a possible allergy risk to the alantolactone. We do know that large amounts of the herb can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and symptoms of paralysis. Unfortunately, there are few extremely safe alternatives for pinworm treatment during pregnancy.
Wormwood During Pregnancy
Q. I really enjoy your e-mail periodical. I had pinworms while pregnant. I put wormwood tincture in capsules and took several twice a day. I also ingested scored garlic cloves several times a day for several days, as well as inserted an oil-coated, scored garlic clove as a suppository at night. I feel that the wormwood helped, yet the garlic has always proven highly effective in our family (6 children) and works in a couple of days. Hope this information helps.
A. Yes, garlic is quite effective for parasites, even protozoan parasites such as giardia. Wormwood is also helpful but can be toxic in large quantity.
Q.I just wanted to let you know that I am at the beginning of my 7th pregnancy...the 6th one that has gotten a good start....and for the very first time have not experienced the horrible morning sickness and exhaustion that I have with all the others! I believe it is the mercy and blessing of God through the advice that you offer...Entrox, Milk thistle Phytosome and AbsorbAid three times a day with meals along with a good prenatal and calcium. I'm still in total amazement and awe! I only hoped it would really work, but was skeptical until now! I have a friend who tried this as well with her 5th pregnancy with the same astounding results!!! WOW! I can't tell you how grateful I am to be able to be a "normal" mommy to my other children while carrying a new babe!! I had asked many months ago about a different source for the Milk Thistle Phytosome by Natural Factors as well as the Entrox...because I could not obtain those locally. I did find a source for Entrox by NOW that does not have any added Vitamin E. (just an FYI) Also, Enzymatic Therapy makes a Silybin Phytosome that I think is very similar if not the same as the milk thistle phytosome you recommend...and there are a few web sites that sell this brand. I bought mine from Vitamin Shoppe. The NOW Entrox I bought through BetterLife.com. Anyway, just thought I'd let you know so if you have opportunity to pass it along to other moms weary of morning sickness....again, I so appreciate your help! You are an angel! I hope you are thoroughly enjoying your new babe. love, Natalie
A. Natalie, I’m thrilled to hear of other mothers benefiting as I did from these three supplements during early pregnancy “sick” times. May God be praised!
Breastfeeding Circulatone Formula Use
Q. I ordered your CirculaTone formula through Spirit-Led Childbirth, but when I asked my midwife about it, she hesitated to recommend that I take it. She said that Ginkgo biloba tends to suppress the immune system, and she didn't think it was a good thing to pass on to my baby through my milk (I’m breastfeeding). Leslie at SLC said I should e-mail you to see what you think.
A. I'm not certain where your midwife heard that Ginkgo biloba suppresses the immune system. In fact, herbal textbooks and safety handbooks, such as the German Commission "E" Monographs, Ginkgo is listed as having a proven track record as an antimicrobial and antitubercular agent. Suppressing the immune system would be news to me. I would ask her where she received her information regarding ginkgo suppressing the immune system and evaluate the source compared to professional herbal textbook source information. Many times, we hear anecdotal information regarding herbs that becomes so widely circulated that even herb books begin to reference the information without confirming its validity. Further, the German Commission E Monographs and the Botanical Safety Handbook have no contraindication for the use of ginkgo for breastfeeding.
Diaper Rash and Breastmilk Enrichment
Q. What is a good "diaper rash" remedy? My 3month old (5th child) seems to have a problem with this and Desitin/A&D doesn't clear it up. None of my other children had a problem with this and I'm not sure what to do.
Also, what is good to enrich milk in a nursing mom? I call my little one a "snacker smacker." She eats a little, and then she is done and won't take anymore no matter how much I encourage her. After only nursing a very short time (10 minutes), she is again hungry an hour or so later. At other times she nurses 20min and lasts 3 hours between feedings. She is healthy, very happy and content but it would be nice if she would be more consistent in her length of time between feedings. I thought if maybe I could enrich, not increase, my milk supply she might be more satisfied with her shorter nursings.
A. The best thing I’ve found that is soothing as well as antiseptic is “Soothing Salve” Drops by TriLight Herbs (www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID). I just apply several times daily or with each diaper change.
The “Mega Mam” formula I’ve given to TriLight Herbs (I don’t receive money from the sales of my formulas) to process would be the formula of choice for enriching and increasing breast milk. I’m glad that it doesn’t sound as if you are requiring your infant to adhere to strict schedules with her short nursing times. While a parent can force their infant to be consistently scheduled, in order for a breastfeeding mother to build an adequate and healthful supply of breastmilk to feed a baby whose tummy is empty only 1 ½ hours after breastfeeding, breastfeeding ideally would be occurring every 2-3 hours, erring closer to the every 2 hours than 3 in the early months of baby’s life. Since your little girl only nurses for 10 minutes most of the time, it is very important that you watch her stools to make certain they are not greenish in color, which would indicate a lack of hind milk intake. When baby nurses, mom’s let-down causes a gusher of foremilk, which is the highest quantity portion of breastmilk, then as baby settles down to nursing stronger with longer sucks, the hind milk is brought down from the lactiferous sinuses behind mom’s aerola. This hind milk contains the highest concentration of calories and protein in momma’s milk. As long as you are seeing yellow stools with 6-8 wet diapers daily and baby is gaining weight, her “snacking” really isn’t snacking; it’s just the way she nurses. The longer feedings, with longer times between feedings, may have more to do with the natural longer stretches babies will take several times daily. Use the tasty Mega Mam formula and think of those frequent feedings as God’s way of slowing you down every hour or so for a break, to rest and recuperate from the hard work of pregnancy and childbirth.
Fenugreek and Breastfeeding
Q. I'm pregnant and nursing and wondered if it's okay to drink fenugreek tea (which helps boost the milk production) and mother's milk tea? If you need a list of what herbs are in mother's milk tea, I can give them to you---as though you would automatically know what's in it!
A. Fenugreek tea is not contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding, although use in the last trimester may cause a false positive for maple urine disease in mom’s baby during the PKU screening test. I would probably choose to use milk thistle to boost my milk production, which could also benefit mom experiencing other pregnancy discomforts as well.
Formula or Milk for Adopted Babies
Q. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a 14 month old little girl who was severely neglected by her birth family. At 12 months of age, she weighed 9 lbs. Anyway, is there a formula that you would recommend for her to be drinking or would it be better to start her on soy milk from our coop? She only takes a bottle right now, refusing most solid foods. We don’t want to start her on cow’s milk as we as a family don’t drink milk.
Keep up the good work.
A. Congratulations on your soon-to-be new little girl! Actually, soy milk or goat’s milk or almond milk, etc. alone is not complete enough to serve as the only nutrition a child receives at this age. For a great, natural goat’s milk-based formula, contact Diane Woehlke, R.N., Herbalist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Diane is one of my NHF Home Study Course graduates. She runs an herb business, “Never Enough Thyme,” from her home in Wisconsin.
Q. I was referred to you by Leslie from Spirit-Led Childbirth. My milk was greatly reduced after eating a dish with sage in November, after which I managed to regain production. I suppose this caused my periods to resume, which began in January. In February, I conceived. I've been drinking "Pep-Up" to keep my milk going. It is a mixture of Brewers Yeast, milk, vanilla extract and blackstrap molasses. This has kept me from having to use formula, but my 5 month old isn't always happy with my milk. I am increasing my water intake. Also, I've been using alfalfa and chlorophyll since before my 5 month old was born. I am going to purchase a baby scales soon to monitor my baby's gain or loss, to be safe. Do you have any advice you can offer?
Thanks for your time,
A. I might suggest milk thistle for added milk production. Drinking plenty of water is important as well as getting 3,000 calories per day (2,500 for pregnancy, extra 500 for continued nursing and supporting another pregnancy) from whole, real foods. Your breastfed baby may wean naturally when you are around 20 weeks pregnant with the new babe in the womb, as that is the point at which momma-milk will turn into colostrums. Some babies are okay with the taste and others won’t have a thing to do with it. Many women have made it through pregnancies while breastfeeding and then tandem-nursed the new baby and the toddler. The scale is a good idea as long as you don’t weigh baby daily. This could lead to a very stressful situation that doesn’t help you produce good and plentiful milk.
Kava kava and Breastfeeding
Q. I've never found any warnings against using Kava Kava while nursing. Do you know any reasons why I shouldn't? My nursing son is 23 months old, and we're gradually weaning. Since neither I nor my
naturopathic doctor have found any warnings, I've been taking it, and finding *great* relief from the anxiety/panic and impatience, but I won't take it if there's a risk.
A. Kava kava is contraindicated during breastfeeding as the kavalactones pass through mom’s bloodstream into her breastmilk. I would wait until baby is completely weaned before resuming use of kava root. Kava root is one of the best herbs that I’ve personally found for relaxation. I used this herb during a period of great stress, and kava kava was the only product that gave me such profound relaxation from tension and restlessness so that I was able to sleep soundly and wake up refreshed in the morning. Kava exerts a relaxing effect on the central nervous system, which makes it ideal for promoting relaxation without the side effect of loss of mental sharpness. Those dealing with anxiety will find it to be useful for daily management of anxiety symptoms. Even the skeletal muscles experience a mild, relaxing effect during the use of kava, thus making the herb useful as a muscle relaxant. Long-term consumption is not recommended on a daily basis due to the yellowing of skin that may occur. If this skin yellowing occurs, discontinue use. Dry, scaly skin may also occur if kava is taken in large quantities. These problems generally only occur when kava is taken in excess of several grams daily. The German Commission E also warns against using kava with barbiturates, antidepressants or other substances that may act on the central nervous system, including alcohol.
Lecithin and Mastitis
Q. I enjoy your educational materials. I suffer from what I think is chronic mastitis. Someone on another list recommended Lecithin. I have purchased a bottle of these HUGE gelcaps (gulp!) and would like to hear your opinion on taking them while pregnant or nursing. Do you know of any problems with either? Do you believe it will help prevent mastitis?
A. Cindy, Lecithin would not be contraindicated for nursing; however, it is not among the most commonly recommended nutritional supplements for mastitis. I have found the best remedies to be: rest, rest, more rest; nursing, nursing, more nursing; water, water, and more water; Echinacea and Vitamin C, taken every 2-3 hours. The Mastitix formula by TriLight Herbs (www.trilightherbs.com or 1-800-HERB-KID) may also be used for acute cases of mastitis. If your baby is going for long stretches during the night without nursing, you may want to consider getting up to pump or allowing baby to nurse, if desired, during the night. Emptying the breast frequently helps to avoid mastitis.
Siberian Ginseng Use in Breastfeeding
Q. A quick question can I take Siberian ginseng for a short period of time while nursing? And do you know if it is okay to take l-tyrosine or l-phenylanine while nursing? Thanks for your time in answering. Blessings,
A. Siberian ginseng is not contraindicated in pregnancy or nursing. While I found one source that stated L-tyrosine as safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, I have not been able to confirm a safe dosage. As for L-phenylanine, this is of more express concern. Again, I could find no safe dosage levels for pregnancy, breastfeeding or small children. This could be due to knowing that excesses can be quite toxic to small children, thus those in the womb and at the breast. I would avoid both of these, personally, during breastfeeding.