Wisdom for the Childbearing Year –
book review by Barbara Douglas
Books that Matter
The Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed
Publisher: Ash Tree Publishing
Published 1986/160 pages
At the first sign of a possible pregnancy, the average American woman beats feet to either the local pharmacy, or her gynecologist. Depending on the outcome of these early tests, the pregnant woman is launched into a world of extensive medical screenings, esoteric therapeutic language, and a bewildering variety of allopathic remedial and health procedures.
But according to at least one internationally-recognized herbalist, there are reliable, natural alternatives available to all women and health practitioners that challenge conservative medical therapy and deliver trusted treatments. In her power-packed guide entitled “The Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year,” author Susun Weed, a longtime herbalist, mother, Native American practitioner and published author, outlines an herbal game plan that can usher the mother-to-be through pregnancy and beyond, all for the optimum health of her and her baby.
Stepping out into Weed’s approach to women’s health care will no doubt take courage for the millions of American women who have been weaned on the notion that the only true health care is found at the doctor’s office or the hospital room.
Maintaining and using an herbal pharmacy of your own before, during and after pregnancy can promote good health for you and your baby. For more than a million years, Weed says, “women have used herbs – gathered, eaten, tended, loved herbs – and taught their daughters the wisdom of herbs on the childbearing year.”
Weed’s focus is firmly set on the outstanding health benefits of what she calls “the wise woman way.” Common sense practices like avoiding tobacco, alcohol, raw or undercooked meat, caffeine, aspirin, laxatives, antacids, diuretics, hair dyes, chemical stimulants and depressants and some herbs are coupled with hundreds of recipes for healing herbal tonics, recipes, ointments, tinctures, teas, compresses and more. And lots of discussion on the why and how of herbal medicine.
Actress Brooke Shields’ devastating struggle with postpartum depression that was brought to the public’s attention two years ago underscored one of the most misunderstood post pregnancy complications that exist. Weed urges fertile women to trust their sense of what is right and when something is wrong. Holistically, she offers a safe herbal medicine in her postpartum depression brew that taken twice daily can – without the use of chemicals – halt the ruinous effects of this form of depression.
“Licorice favorably affects the hormonal balance and cheers the spirits,” Weed says. “Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and ovaries and increases available calcium…rosemary increases the milk flow, adds calcium, tones the liver and is a Wise Woman favorite for depression. Skullcap is also a source of calcium and is a superb nerve strengthener and soother; prolonged use establishes emotional calm.”
As Weed notes, childbearing has been in the care of women in every culture and every time except in modern Western history. The store of wisdom concerning herbs and practices is well preserved and extensive. Avoiding drugs during pregnancy, birth and after birth is not a revolutionary idea, Weed says, – in fact, it has been the way of successful human reproduction for millennia.
Returning to that wise woman tradition is to return to the practices of old. Weed notes that tapping the energies of herbs for herbal-aided births, when done thoughtfully and with an understanding of the powers of plant remedies, could help millions of American women experience natural pregnancies while taking control of their own well being.
Shore Line Times
Postpartum Depression Brew
From The Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year
½ ounce dried, shredded licorice root
1 ounce dried, crumbled raspberry leaf
1 ounce dried, finely cut rosemary leaves
1 ounce dried, cut skullcap
Mix the dried herbs thoroughly together. Use two teaspoons per cup of boiling water to prepare this strongly scented and interesting tasting tea.
The usual dose is two or more cups daily for several weeks to two months.
A tea made from the herb sage is an excellent post-pregnancy anti-galactagogue that dries up the flow of mother’s milk. But pregnant women should avoid sage at all costs; the herb has steroid-like factors that could induce miscarriage.
Raw garlic is a great all-around food for pregnant women. It helps veins maintain or regain elasticity, reduces hemorrhoids and lowers blood pressure