Lady's Mantle - Alchemilla Vulgaris
A "real help in childbirth," says my Woman's Herbal. "Staunches blood after birthing, promotes healing of wounds. This is due in part to the plant's astringent qualities and actions, which means it will dry up excessive leaks and flows in the body. This could be bleeding after giving birth (or after terminating a pregnancy), or, more dramatically, in helping heal fistulas, or ruptures, that occur. One of the remarkable signatures of Lady's Mantle, or one of the ways the plant reveals how it works just by how it looks, is that the leaves are water-repellent. Dew and rainwater bead up on the leaves, which show us that the plant can be used medicinally to expel or dry up excess water or fluid. Matthew Wood notes in The Book of Herbal Wisdom that expelling here does not mean Lady's Mantle is a diuretic; it's not. It helps to transform fluids back into nourishing, useful versions of themselves. What can be re-absorbed gets re-absorbed, and what can't gets dried up. Alchemilla is also used to tone the uterine muscle after it has been emptied and is trying to return to pre-pregnancy size. It can be taken for the last three months of pregnancy and the first several months postpartum for this purpose.
Black Cohosh* - Cimicifuga racemosa
Matthew Wood writes about this plant, which he calls a favorite, as American Indian medicine used for thousands of years for menstruation and pregnancy-related ailments. He writes about its helpfulness with PMS, scanty or irregular menses, and in parturition (birth). His quote is that this plant "encourages the uterus," particularly when it's time toward the very end of pregnancy for the uterus to descend and soften. Once in labor, a tincture of Black Cohosh can promote even contractions. Black Cohosh is in the Buttercup, or Ranunculaceae, family, which means it is a low-dose herb. (Buttercups themselves are actually poisonous.)
*As an anecdote about the other cohosh, Blue Cohosh, related to doula work, I supported a patient at the clinic who was undergoing an abortion procedure who had been taking Blue Cohosh, a famous emmenagogue, to prepare her uterus. The doctor doing the procedure, before knowing this, commented that this was one of the easiest she'd ever done. The patient's cervix was soft and easily opened, and her uterus was ripe and yielding.
Red Raspberry - Rubus idaeus
Yes, THAT red raspberry. The one in your jam. The leaves of our friend red raspberry are one of the most useful pregnancy and birth tonics available to us. As with the rest of our berry-bearing plants, Raspberry is a member of the Rose, or Roseaceae family. This means it will be astringent and contain tannins. In pregnancy and labor, this is useful because astringents check hemorrhage, which can be an issue immediately after or during labor. During pregnancy, that astringent quality will tone the uterus, keeping it strong. (Think of it as a personal trainer for the womb!) That means when labor comes, the contractions will be strong and steady. Yes, that means they'll hurt more. But it also means they'll be productive, theoretically shortening the overall time spent laboring.
And finally, a note on Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. We've talked about it on this blog before as an anti-hemorrhagic, but I wanted to point out its status as an herb for the wounded healer/ wounded warrior. This is part of the plant spirit of this plant - Matthew Wood prescribes it for folks who take care of others and forget to protect and support themselves. A wise herb for teachers, midwives, doctors, and doulas, among many others.
Legalese: In our society, only MDs get to say they are "treating" disease. As such, this blog post has not been analyzed by the FDA, and the advice within has not been scientifically proven to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Please see a health practitioner for medical treatment.