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Ayurvedic Herbs For Mothers For Lactation, Perineal Pain, Stretch Marks And More

Postpartum nutrition often takes a backseat as a mother gets busy in the feeding and care of the newborn, along with handling other household responsibilities. They miss out on a crucial factor for the good health of hers and the baby: nutrition.

Ayurvedic herbs and remedies have always been a great support for postpartum care such as increasing the milk supply, managing perineal pain, preventing bleeding after the delivery and getting rid of stretch marks.

This is because plants contain a plethora of physiologically active compounds in different amounts. They provide great benefits to the mother in reshaping and healing her body and internal functions post-delivery. The compounds also help in the growth and development of the newborn when transferred to them through breastmilk. [1]

However, data related to the safety and use of these herbs has always been limited. Therefore, it is advised to always consult a medical expert before taking herbs or any herbal medicines.

This article contains all the evidence-based herbs which are preferred during various postpartum conditions. Take a look.

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Herbs For Better Lactation

1. Fenugreek (Methi)

Insufficient production of breastmilk is the frequently reported cause of discontinuing breastfeeding in infants, leading to nutritional deficiencies. Fenugreek is considered a traditional galactagogue; it may help enhance human milk production by stimulating sweat production. As breasts are a type of sweat glands, the herb may help increase the supply of breast milk. [2]

2. Anise seed (Chakra Phool)

According to a study, anise seeds contain anethole, a potent phytoestrogen that is known to promote the milk supply. It is generally recognised safe for breastfeeding mothers by the USDA. Anise is considered a flavouring as it gives a specific odour to the breastmilk. [3] Caution, excessive consumption of anise while lactating can cause toxicity in newborns and high levels of liver enzymes in the mother.

3. Shatavari

Shatavari, a species of asparagus, has an important role as a milk enhancing substance. It contains several active saponins such as shatavarins I-V, steroidal saponins, anthocyanin, phytoecdysteroids, racemofuran and diosgenin. The compounds in this ayurvedic herb may help increase the production of prolactin, a hormone directly responsible for the secretion of breast milk. [4]

4. Stinging nettle (Buchu Buti)

Mother's milk is the most essential nutrient for the baby. According to a study, the herb when taken orally can help treat postpartum milk problems and anaemia. Stinging nettle may help elevate the levels of prolactin and increase milk production. Caution, topical use of the herb such as applying on mother's nipple is not suggested as it may lead to allergic skin rash. [5]

5. Fennel Seed (Saumph)

Fennel seed is also a strong galactagogue; it contains a volatile oil composed of anethole, which is a type of phytoestrogen. Other compounds in fennel include fenchone, eucalyptol and estragole which may help increase the milk volume. The herb is generally considered safe by the USDA. Caution, its excessive use can cause toxicity due to anethole. Also, avoid excessive sunlight while using the herb topically. [6]

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Herbs For Uterus Post-Delivery

1. Mudakathan Seeds

Uterus cleaning is a necessary step after delivery as it helps remove the entire placenta, blood clots and membranes left in the uterine cavity. These leftovers can cause infections, fibroids and other uterine polyps. According to a study, an infusion made of mudakathan seeds may help clear the uterus after childbirth and prevent related complications. [7]

2. Butterfly pea (Shankupushpam flower)

Butterfly tea, also known as a blue pea or Asian pigeonwings is a blue flower that is mainly used in puja rituals. A study has shown that when these flowers are crushed and mixed with honey, it may help clean the uterus after the delivery, along with preventing the bleeding from the uterus. It is advised to take the flower-infused tea or decoction early morning.

3. Helichrysum

Some studies say this herb may help treat swelling of the uterus after the delivery and provide soothing effects. Helichrysum is a yellow-coloured flower that belongs to the sunflower family. The leaves of this ayurvedic plant are needle-like and give a curry-like aroma.

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Herbs For Perineal And Stomach Pain

1. Lavender

Perineal pain after childbirth can lead to fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and lack of empathy between the mother and the baby. According to a study, a lavender oil sitz bath after 4-5 hours of the delivery may help reduce the perineal pain and improve the mood, thus relieving post-cesarean or vaginal delivery pain. [8]

2. Witch hazel

Witch hazel is a great herb for postpartum care with many traditional uses. A study has shown that this ayurvedic herb can help provide a cooling effect to the perineum and relieve pain related to perineal trauma after the delivery. Witch hazel can also help treat the pain caused due to perineal swelling, bruising and wounds. [9]

3. Wild celery seeds

Wild celery seeds, scientifically known as Trachyspermum roxburghianum is a versatile herb with great benefits. This herb may help reduce stomach pain after the delivery. A study based on traditional mother care in women of South Kerala has shown that consuming the powdered seeds of wild celery mixed with honey can help reduce the stomach pain post-delivery when taken two teaspoons thrice daily. [10]

4. Karvand roots

Karvand is also known as Bengal current, carandus plum or Christ's thorn. The root of the karvand plant is mainly used to prepare a decoction and is given to women who have had delivery, especially caesarean to relieve their delivery pain. [7]

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Herbs For Stretch Marks

1. Karanja leaves

Karanja leaves are mainly used to prepare herbal pastes to manage stretch marks. According to a study, the leaves of Karanja plants have antimicrobial, antioxidant and wound-healing activities which may help deeply hydrate the skin, keep dryness and skin sagging at bay and promote good skin health. Massage the stretch marks area with Karanja oil extracted from the leaves, let it dry for some time and then wash with cold water for best results. [11]

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a very potent herb for all types of skin problems, including stretch marks. The high amount of antioxidants in aloe vera may help repair the wounds and get rid of stretch marks faster. Some studies say that applying aloe vera daily on the affected area and massaging for around 15 minutes may help remove the marks easily. Add vitamin E tablets in this ayurvedic herb for better results. [12]

3. Manjistha

Stretch marks are seen in around 90 per cent of women post-delivery due to a combination of hormonal issues and increased lateral stress of connective tissues. Manjistha is a red-coloured ayurvedic herb that belongs to the coffee family. It may act as a skin-protecting and healing herb and treat stretch marks by promoting healing of the skin. [13]

4. Sage

Oil extracted from the sage herb has healing properties and is considered safe to be used topically. Applying oil on the stretch marks may help improve the blood supply in the area and promote faster healing of the overstretched skin cells or wounds due to cesarean delivery. Experts suggest adding a few drops of sage oil in bathing water and soaking the body for around 15 minutes. [14]

5. Indian berberry (Daryharidra)

Some studies say that Indian Burberry has wound healing and antibacterial activities. These properties of the herb due to the presence of phytochemicals may help reduce stretch marks or striae distensae to a great extent. Indian berberry is mainly applied topically on the stretched area mixed with ghee. [15]

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Herbs For Postpartum Depression

1. Black cohosh

Postpartum depression mainly develops after childbirth due to a drop in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. If the condition lasts for a long, it may develop into major depression. Black cohosh is a great ayurvedic herb for reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Its consumption may help improve the mood and prevent postpartum depression. Be careful with its amount and duration of use. [16]

2. Chasteberry

Chasteberry is a great herb to treat multiple problems in women, including postpartum depression. Some studies say that chaste berry has promising effects on anxiety, mood swings, anger, irritation and other depressive symptoms. Though the herb is mainly used for the aforementioned symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, it can also help treat depressive symptoms that follow after the delivery. [17]

3. St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort can be used as a herbal supplement to treat postpartum depression. A compound named hypericin in the herb is known to have a therapeutic effect against depression and related symptoms. It can also help in the production of estrogen and treat the symptoms. However, the data related to its safety and use by nursing or breastfeeding women is limited. [18]

4. Chamomile

Chamomile has antidepressant action; the flavonoids in the herb may help modulate the effect of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which are responsible for good mood. Apigenin named compound in chamomile also helps promote good sleep and improve the depressive symptoms related to post-delivery. [19]

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Herbs To Prevent Excessive Postpartum Bleeding

1. Raspberry leaf

Some studies have mentioned that drinking tea made of raspberry leaves may act as a uterine tonic and help reduce postpartum bleeding. The herb helps increase blood supply to the uterus thus, aiding the muscle fibres and relaxing the uterus. The herb also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, calcium and potassium to strengthen the uterus muscles. It is generally considered a safe herb. [20]

2. Argemone mexicana (Mexican poppy)

Postpartum bleeding, also termed postpartum haemorrhage, refers to excessive vaginal bleeding for many days after the delivery. Mexican poppy, a yellow flower has an abundance of alkaloids such as protopine, berberine, hydrochloride and dihydrosanguinarine with spasmolytic benefits. These compounds may help relax the uterus muscles and prevent excessive postpartum bleeding. [21]

3. Yarrow

Some studies say that yarrow flower extract can help prevent haemorrhage after delivery. This ayurvedic herb is mainly used in sitz baths with other herbs such as witch hazel and rosemary leaf. You can also prepare tea with its dried or fresh flowers and consumer to prevent excessive bleeding.

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What To Remember

Nursing or breastfeeding is a very crucial step in determining the health and development of a baby. A nursing mother gets nutrition from the food she ingests that helps in milk production.

The vital compounds in the foods such as antioxidants and phytochemicals get transferred to the breast milk, and then to the baby. Therefore, it is essential that breast milk is clear of all toxicity that may harm the newborn.

Ayurvedic herbs contain many useful bioactive compounds that help both the mother and the baby. However, their safety depends on the method of consumption, dosage, time of consumption and many other factors.

Self-administration of these herbs or their supplements could be dangerous; therefore, it is advised to consult a medical expert or ayurvedic practitioner before consumption.