Women's Healthcare Topics

Are Natural Herbs During Pregnancy Safe?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Some are Safe, While others are Not

Many women become interested in using natural herbs during pregnancy. Natural herbs can be very beneficial during pregnancy. It is important however you realize that just because something is natural doesn't necessarily mean it is safe. There are some herbs that are harmful to pregnant mothers and their babies. It is important that you consult with your doctor or healthcare provider prior to using any herbs in pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

If you do decide to use natural herbs during pregnancy, go for a standardized and reputable product. You don't necessarily want to buy the least expensive product on the market. That is because many natural herbs are not regulated, therefore you may not be sure a product actually contains what the label says. You may be able to acquire better quality natural herbs during pregnancy from your midwife or natural health provider.

Some herbs are safe to use during pregnancy but not all are. That is why it is important you consult with a qualified professional before using herbs during pregnancy. Certain herbs are not safe during pregnancy. Here is a list of natural herbs you should avoid during pregnancy:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Barberry
  • Basil Oil
  • Black Cohosh
  • Bloodroot
  • Blue Cohosh
  • Clove Oil
  • Feverfew
  • Dong Quai
  • Lady's Mantle
  • Mugwort
  • Pulsatilla
  • Wild Yam
  • Wormwood

This list is not inclusive therefore you should check any other herbs you have with a professional.

Pregnancy Health Section

Learn about herbs and pregnancy.

There are some herbs that are known to be relatively safe during pregnancy. These include:

  • Chamomile - Chamomile can help calm anxious nerves and may help reduce some inflammation.

  • Nettles - Nettles are nourishing and contain many minerals including calcium and iron.

  • Alfalfa - This plant contains blood clotting vitamin K, multiple enzymes, minerals and vitamins that are beneficial during pregnancy.

  • Red Raspberry leaf - This herb helps lactation and may help with nausea. Some midwives use it to help prevent miscarriage. May also help ease the pains of labor.

  • Rose Hips - Rose hips are an exceptional source of vitamin C.

Of course, every woman is different. Even though these herbs are considered safe be sure to check with your doctor. We keep repeating this because it is important. You should also check in with your doctor in case you have an allergic reaction to any herbs or substances you are using while pregnant.

Many women use herbs when they feel a cold coming on. Studies regarding many popular herbs used for the common cold are often confusing. For example, you may find some studies suggest that it is safe to use Echinacea during your pregnancy while others question its safety. Again this is a case where you should consult with your provider and determine the course of action you feel is best for you and your baby. Certain herbs including goldenseal should never be taken during pregnancy, as they can stimulate the uterus and promote early contractions or premature labor. Other herbs may be too powerful for your baby, even if they are helpful to you in some way.

As with anything it is best you use all products, natural or otherwise, in moderation while pregnant. You will also want to monitor your body's own reactions to certain natural plant products. What works well for one person may not work the same for another. That said, midwives and other natural health providers have been using various herbs to treat many of the side effects of pregnancy for years. Under the guidance and tutelage of a qualified practitioner, you may find natural herbs very beneficial and nourishing during your pregnancy. There are some studies that suggest that certain herbs may even promote a more natural and less difficult childbirth!


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics