During the Middle Ages in Europe, midwives were not allowed to use herbal remedies at births. If a labor was not going smoothly, the midwife was required to repeat certain prescribed prayers. If she was observed doing anything otherwise, she risked imprisonment or death at the hands of the medieval Church.
Despite such draconian measures, applied as much to “folk healers” in general as to midwives, Western herbalism has inherited and revitalized a good understanding of many of the medicinal plants known to our ancestors. Included in our modern-day apothecary are the herbs so beneficial to childbearing women and loved (if often in secret) by their midwives. Homebirth midwives today avail themselves often and regularly of such herbs: as aids to prepare the body for pregnancy, as nourishment throughout pregnancy, as allies when needed during labor, and in postpartum care for both mom and baby.
WishGarden Herbs was founded in 1979 by a Boulder midwife who began providing herbal products to the midwifery community in Boulder and then, as word traveled about her products, to midwives and birthing supply companies around the country. And even while WishGarden has changed hands and vastly expanded and enriched its repertoire, at its core there still exists a strong line of herbs for women and for the midwives who serve them during their childbearing years.
Herbs are regarded by many people simply as an avenue for “remedies” for various ailments and imbalances. But many herbs are wonderfully nutritional, and utilized as such by midwives, who rate them right up there with nourishing foods and some of the more common nutritional supplements. Red raspberry leaf, red clover blossoms, dandelion and yellow dock roots, nettles, horsetail, oatseed, peppermint, passionflower, wild yam, and peach leaf — these and many other well-known herbs, taken as teas or in tinctured extracts, form the basis of excellent tonics for the pregnant woman. Easily assimilated, they are a gentle way of providing her with much of the mineral, vitamin, and digestive support needed for a healthy pregnancy.
Other herbal combinations can become extremely important allies in late pregnancy and during birth. Postpartum times can become quite the adventure, with breastfeeding issues, potential postpartum depression, and colicky babies. For these and other potential challenges WishGarden has evolved a strong line of herbal helpers — Lactation Tea, Milk Rich, Rebalance Hormonal Tonic, and Colic Ease, to name just a few. In addition, our line of bodycare products includes some awesome oils for pregnant moms and new babies, powders for umbilical sites, and balms for sore nipples and diaper rashes.
Over the next few months, we hope to offer you more in-depth profiles of some of these products and their constituent herbs, helping to deepen understanding and appreciation for the plants that bring us such bounty.
Written by Arlee McLeod, WishGarden Herbs