So I guess pregnancy makes me crazy. I noticed feeling depressed this pregnancy around 12 weeks. I was just down and completely useless as a mother and a wife. I mentioned to my loving husband that I felt down and he said he thought I was depressed during my last pregnancy. I must not have noticed it over all the puking, gall stones, high blood pressure, pain and over all grossness.
Anyway I talked to my midwife about my options. We discussed antidepressants, because I have been on them before for situational depression and postpartum depression. We discussed the merits of massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and therapy as well. She wrote me a prescription for antidepressants but I decided to do some research before filling it and taking the drugs. After careful consideration I did not think the benefits of the drugs did not outweigh the risks, namely the baby dealing with detoxification effects after birth, increased chance of colic, and increased chance of behavioral/neurological problems. Considering I was not suicidal or homicidal, I decided to try natural solutions first.
I decided to take better quality health supplements that I was taking before I got pregnant and stopped taking because they cost more. I highly recommend finding a good whole food supplement. I was taking Standard Process, which I really like, but have gluten in them (I very recently got diagnosed with gluten intolerance) so I had to switch to a different supplement which is working well for me. I got my vitamin D levels tested and am taking liquid vitamin D drops.
I get massage at least once a week, and am going to start going to acupuncture again (insurance ran out last year, but now it is covered again so I am going again).
I have increased my fat and protein ingestion with healthy animal fats, coconut oil, and omega-3 supplements in the form of cod liver oil. There is some great information out there about how these fats are beneficial to your nervous system and health. See http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets .
On top of all this I did a lot of research on herbs that can help balance my nervous system and the rest of the body. I am very careful with herbs while pregnant because they are not tested for safety during pregnancy. You need to depend on years and years of gathered data from herbalists, doctors, midwives, and other professionals who deal with herbs on a daily basis. A good rule of thumb I have found is if it is food it is usually safe. There are some notable exceptions though so do your home work! There are some great books out there about herb safety during pregnancy, nursing and for use with children. I went to my herbalist to discuss options for tea, and between the research I had done with my books and the interwebs, the herbalists vast knowledge, and the assistance of my midwife checking for safety we came up with my crazy pregnant lady tea. This tea is also safe for breast-feeding, we checked as I am still breast-feeding. I actually see an increase in my milk supply when I drink it, I am guessing because of the nutrient boost.
Not only is the tea great for depression/anxiety/neurological issues, but it is also extremely nourishing, especially for woman. All woman can benefit from this tea but it is extremely nourishing and tonifying to benefit pregnant woman.
Here is what we came up with:
All ingredients are equal parts except for the St. Johns Wart which is 1/2 part to the rest.Red Raspberry Leaf Nettle leaf Oat straw Chamomile Lemon Balm St. Johns Wart Lavender (optional)
This is why we decided on these herbs:
Red Raspberry Leaf: Is the “best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs.” -Weed p.18 It is nutrient dense with high levels of vitamin c, vitamin E, easily assimilated calcium and iron, vitamins A and B complex, and many minerals including phosphorous and potassium. It is known to increase fertility, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, ease morning sickness, reduce pain during labor and after birth, and assists in the production of breast milk. If you do nothing else at least have a cup or two of this great tea every day. And it tastes good too! – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed
Nettle Leaf: One of the finest nourishing tonics known. Contains vitamins A, C, D, and K, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulfur. It aids in kidney health and function, increases fertility, nourishes the mother, fetus and placenta, eases cramps and muscle spasm, reduces pain, prevents hemorrhage after birth and increases the richness and amount of breast milk. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed
Oat Straw: This was an addition mentioned by my herbalist as a highly beneficial ingredient to the nervous system AND breast-feeding. It is also highly nutrient dense with high levels of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamins B (complex), A, C. The oat straw I get from the herbalist is not processed in a plant with wheat or other gluten containing grains and is gluten-free. If that is a concern from you be sure to ask this to your herbal provider. “Oat straw is a nervine, which means it provides nutrients to reinforce nerves, particularly when an individual is suffering from stress. It is high in vitamin B and can help people maintain restful and regulated sleep patterns and other nerve-related problems associated with sleep and stress, including insomnia, anxiety, memory less, depression and restless legs”
Chamomile: Chamomile is probably one of the most widely used relaxing nerve tonics. It is used to relieve mental stress and tension. It is calming, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, anti-spasmodic for easing muscle cramps, nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green
Lemon Balm: *fresh lemon balm is listed in the Wise Woman Herbal as an emenogogue (helps bring on periods). I use dried lemon balm and have had no issues but if mis-carriage is a concern you may want to exclude this from your tea. This was one recommended by my herbalist to add to the tea and was checked for safety by my midwife with no concerns. Lemon balm is considered specific for helping one cope with life situations that are difficult to accept. It is an old favorite for depression, melancholy, and hysteria. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed
St. Johns Wort: Is nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). It has a sedative and pain relieving effect appropriate for treating neuralgia, anxiety and tension, and any irritable and anxious effects of menopausal changes. As an anti-depressant, it is highly recommended for treatment of melancholia or “the blues”. -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green. There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about St. Johns Wort. It has never been proven to cause miscarriage, birth defects, or to decrease milk supply. It has at best been anecdotally linked. My herbalist consulted three different books, (two written by medical doctors) about the risk to pregnancy and did not find anything concerning. It in fact is known as a moistening herb and can slightly increase your milk supply. If you are concerned please consult your health care professional and find information for your self!
Lavender: I listed this herb as optional because it is not synergistic to me. It does not calm me, but makes my nervous system twitchy, which is not a normal reaction. For this reason I do not include it in my tea but the herbalist suggested it might be beneficial. It is well-known to ease stress, tension and headaches. -Natural Health by Nerys Purchon
I hope this helps explain the tea and the great things it does. As always this is not intended for medical advice and you should speak to your health care provider before starting any herbal routine. As I said I worked on this with my herbalist and midwife to come up with the best solution for me. I hope this helps anyone who is suffering and can serve as a great guideline!
What do you do to help combat anxiety/depression?
Shared on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.