As an herbalist I knew I wanted to use herbs during my own postpartum, so in the months leading up to my daughter’s birth I started preparing teas and tinctures that I thought would be helpful for my recovery. I formulated several different blends and figured I had all my bases covered. There was lemon balm for mood, lavender for anxiety, fennel for milk production, calendula and marshmallow root for sore nipples, and my favorite nutrient rich trio- nettle, oatstraw, and raspberry leaf. I checked off “herbs” on my long list of things to have in place before my due date and carried on.
When I thought about postpartum prior to giving birth, I focused mainly on my physical body and little on the mental and emotional state I was about to enter. This was my first child, so I had no idea the heart expansion that was about to occur. With this infinite ocean of love that filled my entire being came a level of vulnerability that caught me off guard. While I found my throbbing vagina and burning nipples to be painful, and the constant nursing, little sleep, and all around care for an infant to be taxing, what really got me was the helplessness I felt as I gave everything I had to this little soul. In order to take care of her, I had to stop taking care of myself, something I had never had to do, no matter what was going on in my life.
I needed to be mothered, so I could mother. My relationship with my own mom is challenging to a point that calling on her was not an option, and my husband is self-employed with minimal time off. I found myself home alone early on and experienced the lack of support the majority of postpartum women in this country experience because of the way our society is structured and how little attention we give to planning for life in the first several months baby is outside of our bodies.
And so I looked to the herbs… because who better to mother you than Mother Nature herself?
The herbs I had prepared had all the nutrients and chemical constituents my body needed to heal, but being of the earth they were filled with the energy of Mother Nature as well. Each herb has its own energetic properties, its own spirit. Just like people, plants are complex. They don’t just help our body; they help our mind, our emotions, and our soul. Herbs are holistic medicine meaning they work on multiple levels to heal the whole person, not just parts of ourselves. Their life force cannot be measured, only felt. I believe there are certain times in our life where we are more open to receiving and utilizing all that herbs have to offer- postpartum is one of those times. It’s a time where our hearts are open, our bodies are raw, and our emotions ebb and flow.
Becoming a mother is transformative, whether it’s your first time or your third. Herbs help ease the growing pains. They gave me the gentle support I needed and softened the edges as I stumbled through my first year of motherhood.
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