A Love Letter To Susun S. Weed
What started out as a love letter to Susun S. Weed has turned into a herbal and pelvic awareness guide for my clients based on her writings and my own obsession with perineal massage.
Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to a number of women who are having problems with anemia during pregnancy. I started writing a how-to guide on natural ways to boost iron and mineral intake and this post has naturally come together.
I first heard of Susun S. Weed after taking a herbal workshop with Isa Brito at Carriage House Birth in Brooklyn. It was also the first time I heard about the all of the wonderful benefits of stinging nettles and many other herbs. Now knowing that Susun S. Weed books are used at The Birth Institute, where I will be starting my midwifery studies in a month, I just am as happy as a clam!
All of these infusions, tinctures and recipes are from Susun"s books or blog posts. I have just pulled out the ones that I get questioned about the most. I feel women want to be more natural, they just don't know where to start or even where to look. I hope this is helpful for some of you.
The most important thing to remember when starting an herbal regimen is that it is a life style change. Herbs don't work over night. As a culture we are so used to popping a pill and our headache going away. We want things now and if it doesn't happen exactly when we think it should, we are bored, impatient and unwilling to wait it out. We are accustomed to the "quick fix" even if it might be harmful to ourselves and our children. Medicine is a business. A multi billion dollar business and weeds growing in your backyard will never get the respect they deserve from a main stream media source. We live in a period of time where we have to do our own research ON EVERYTHING. You have to question every study that you read. It's unfortunate but necessary. You have to check who paid for the study, who is benefitting from the study. If you deny that fact or are naive to this truth, it truly is time for you to open your eyes.
So here is my guide, or a place to start if you are interested in herbs and how to make them work in your life.
Herbs For Pregnancy & Pelvic Health
based on Susun S Weed's recipes
Resources: Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm
Red Raspberry Leaf - Toner of pelvic muscles including the uterus, rich in vitamin A, C B complex and E. Also present are potassium and many minerals. Aids in morning sickness, prevents miscarriage and hemorrhage, easier birth, reduces pain after birth and helps with milk production.
Nettle Leaf - A fine nourishing tonic for mother and fetus, nearly all minerals and vitamins necessary for human health are present in nettles. Helps with leg cramps , diminishes pain during and after birth, reduces hemorrhoids, increases richness of milk. Has more chlorophyll than any other herb. Drinking large amounts the last month of pregnancy insures large amounts of vitamin k in the blood for birth.
Oatstraw - Very rich in minerals, nourishes the nervous system, helps with sleep, even energy throughout the day. It’s rich in calcium and magnesium.
An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. It’s truly the best way to utilize all of the benefits of the herb.
Summary of Infusion Data
Plant Part Amount Jar/Water Length of Infusion
Roots/barks 1 oz/30 g. pint/500 ml 8 hous minimum Leaves 1 oz/30 g. quart/liter 4 hours minimum Flowers 1 oz/30 g. quart/liter 2 hours minimum Seeds/berries 1 oz/30 g. pint/500 ml 30 minutes minimum
I like to make my infusions on Sunday night and make enough for the week. Otherwise, I can get lazy. I truly feel better when I’m taking my nettle and oatstraw infusions. But you have to drink them consistantly. You have to be disciplined to make them.
I fill the jars with a single herb and boiling water and let them steep overnight. They are usually too hot to touch so after about an hour, I put them in the refrigerator so that they don’t spoil. If they do happen to spoil, you can use them in your garden and plants! In the morning I strain out the herb and squeeze out the herbs. I try to drink at least 2 jars a day.
“Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you'll jump up and exercise.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa) reduces high cholesterol, increases libido, and strengthens the nerves. A cup of oatstraw infusion contains more than 300 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of many other minerals. Its steroidal saponins nourish the pancreas and liver, improving digestion and stabilizing moods. “Oatstraw is best known however for its ability to enhance libido and mellow the mood. Do be careful whom you share it with, or you may find yourself sowing some wild oats. In Auryuvedic medicine, oatstraw is considered the finest of all longevity tonics.”
Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy
My favorite go to herb for most things is nettles, and in particular when women are having anemia during pregnancy.
“Iron is found in every cell of the body, but the amount present is most easily calculated from a blood sample. If the hemoglobin count of the blood sample is 12 or less, then a deficiency is said to exist. It is possible that many diagnoses of iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy are a result of misinterpretation of the body’s natural physiological changes while pregnant, and that lower hemoglobin levels, especially during the second trimester when the blood volume increases sharply, are normal. Ferrous sulphate is commonly prescribed to prevent and correct iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. There are many reasons to avoid it: ferrous sulphate is poorly absorbed (only 10-30%): it stresses out the organs of elimination (liver, kidneys, intestines) which must process it out of the body; it is very constipating; it may cause indigestion; miscarriages have been associated with it’s use; and it may irritate the kidneys and cause them to break down. “
Susun S. Weed, For the Childbearing Year. 1986
Yellow Dock Root as a tincture provides excellent, fully absorbable, non-constipating source of iron. Use 25-40 drops of tincture to prevent anemia. If anemia is already present, use 3 times a day.
Parsley, nettles, kelp, dandelion root are also great sources of iron.
Remember that you must have vitamin C to assimilate iron.
Anemia Prevention Brew
½ ounce nettle leaf
½ ounce parsley leaf
½ ounce comfrey leaf
½ ounce yellow dock root
¼ ounce dried peppermint leaves
Put them into a jar and pour boiling water on them. Let them steep at least 8 hours with the lid tightly on.
Provides folic acid and vitamin B12.
Drink freely, up to 4 cups a day, for one week each month.
Stress, Fatigue and Mood Changes
Motherwort- calms without causing drowsiness. Try 5 drops in a small glass of water to restore emotional balance. Allow 15 minutes for the full affect.
Skullcap - Take up to 30 drops of the tincture a half hour before you go to bed to ensure a refreshing deep sleep. An infusion nourishes and strengthens the nerves. Drink 2 cups daily for several months if your nerves feel frayed and you are easily upset.
Being aware and understanding your own pelvic muscles and organs is paramount to a satisfying birth. Being in control of your pelvic floor, being able to relax it will help greatly in minimizing tears, strains and utilizing comfort measures during birth. This is your body that you are going to have to your last day of life and you must take care of it and preserve it. Pelvic tone will also help with other problems such as vaginal wall and uterine prolapse and urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscles function to support pelvic floor organs, assist in urinary and fecal continence, aid in sexual performance (orgasm), stabilize connecting joints, and act as a venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis. So they are very very very very important! Particularly during pregnancy and birth.
“Research has shown that massaging your perinium from approximately 34 weeks into your pregnancy reduces the chance that you might damage this area during childbirth.”
Because at the end of your birth, what we really want is to avoid is an episiotomy.
Massage is work but if you are willing to put in the time once or twice a day, you are doing yourself and your childbirthing experience a real service!
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