Stressed Out and Pregnant? These Herbs Help Calm Anxiety
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Expecting a new bundle of joy is a wonderful time filled with anticipation, excitement … and oftentimes, stress and anxiety. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormones are changing and fluctuating with the growth of her unborn child. Together, mother and child grow both physically and emotionally.
Although some stress is a natural part of pregnancy, too much stress can cause physical issues for both mother and babe. From worrying about the baby’s health to stressing over upcoming financial challenges, pregnancy can cause a woman to spend too much time worrying when she could be basking in the beautiful changes happening in her life.
If stress and anxiety are interfering with your joys of motherhood, these four herbs might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Oh, one more thing—since the first trimester is a delicate time for your new baby, wait until after the first trimester to try the herbs listed below.
(Always consult a qualified medical professional before adding herbs or other supplements to your routine.)
1. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Lemon balm is a soothing and nurturing herb that relaxes both body and mind. Lemon balm can calm your nerves, boost your mood, and help with insomnia that naturally comes with the nighttime discomfort of a changing body shape.
2. Rosehips (Rosa canina and Rosa rubiginosa): Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant. Usually a rich red or dark orange color when ripe, rosehips add beauty to a rose bush after the petals have faded in the fall. Rosehips are a rich source of vitamin C, and their mild flavor blends well with other earthy herbs. Rosehips assist with the absorption of iron and calcium—both necessary for the nourishment of mother and baby.
3. Oat straw (Avena sativa): Oat straw or milky oats come from the tops of unripe oat plants (the same plant that gives you your morning bowl of oatmeal). Oat straw is a nervine herb that tones and calms the nervous system. Its mild, nutty flavor is easier to drink during bouts of morning sickness than some more strongly flavored herbs, and it combines well with fruit juices such as apple and peach. Try making oat straw tea and apple juice popsicles, or use oat straw tea instead of water when you make flavored gelatin desserts.
4. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): Passionflower is an excellent anti-anxiety herb that also induces sleep and relaxation. Use it in small doses and only under professional guidance, since large doses can be a uterine stimulant.
What can I do to relieve stress during the first trimester?
If stress and anxiety are confronting you during the first trimester of pregnancy, or you would like options other than using herbs internally, try some of the following suggestions.
1. Yoga: Gentle prenatal yoga and restorative yoga poses and stretches can be beneficial stress relievers during pregnancy. Yoga encourages us to still the mind and relax the body while focusing on the breath. Avoid hot yoga and other strenuous practices, and make sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. (Mayo Clinic, February 2021)
2. Walking meditation: Walking meditation is a form of active meditation. Walking is a wonderful exercise on its own, and when combined with mindfulness to create a walking meditation, this activity can decrease stress levels and bolster a sense of well-being. You don’t need any special equipment to do a walking meditation, and you can practice both indoors and out.
3. Eat right: Healthy eating is always important, but it can be difficult to eat normally if you have waves of nausea at odd times of the day. Try to maintain a healthy diet by eating nutrient-dense foods in frequent, small portions. Oatmeal is a stomach soother that can be lightly sweetened to make it more palatable or adorned with fresh fruit to boost its nutrient value.
4. Curl up with a good book: If you’re one of those people (like me!) who can get lost in a good book, use this opportunity to read that book you’ve been longing for. Let yourself get carried away in a fantasy world, and put your worries on the back burner. You’ll have fewer chances to read grownup books after baby arrives, so treat yourself to a little extra you time right now.
Other things to remember …
There is no need to feel guilty for feeling stressed or for taking extra time to pamper yourself. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious during your pregnancy, know that some stress is normal now, just as it is during other times in life. But also know that through loving self-care, you can reduce your anxiety and enjoy your pregnancy and the new life you are creating.
(Please consult a medical professional or mental health practitioner if you have any physical or mental health concerns, so they can provide you with extra support and guidance during this time.)