Stabilizing Mood Postpartum with Herbs

Stabilizing Mood Postpartum with Herbs

Leonorus cardiaca - Motherwort

Motherwort is the herb for supporting us through all the feelings brought on by the colossal transition that is motherhood. With a Latin name, Leonurus, which translates to “lion-hearted,” Motherwort literally means “herb that heals mothers.” Like so many parts of the motherhood experience: Motherwort has a very bitter taste with an affinity to the healing of the heart. It is known for bringing relief from anxiety, especially when that anxiety manifests in the heart as anxious racing or palpitations. In times of stress or overwhelm, a few drops of motherwort extract re-connects us, calling us to ground ourselves in calm.

Motherhood is a Becoming: A sacred initiation and a full transformation from whatever we were into a caregiver. For many of us, this is shocking and unanticipated - like hitting a brick wall - and the experience differs greatly from our expectations. Grief is a frequent-yet-uninvited guest for too many mamas. Much like the trip from caterpillar to a butterfly, our journey dissolves everything we’ve ever known of ourselves, and, without really understanding what’s happening to us, we grow all new parts. What we are after is an indefinite discovery. There is no choice but to struggle our way out to survive, and to thrive.

The early days, months, and years of a baby’s life are critical for their emotional development. We say “happy mama, happy baby” for good reason and yet the huge feelings of parenthood are valid.

A daily herbal regimen can help us to more peacefully experience the swirlies through the stormy portals. The goal is to have gentler experiences of our nervous systems and a hand to steady the mood swings.

The sacred initiation into parenting invites us to re-parent ourselves - especially important to do if our own parents fell short in their caregiving of us. Motherwort teaches us to dust off our shoulders and parent with dignity, while reminding us that we can self-comfort. We are strong enough for this job and have everything we need to do it well. When we quiet the tensions in our bodies, we can lead with patience, peace, and love.

Melissa officinalis - Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a relaxing ally to the raw nerves of parents, and she passes calm to the breastfeeding babes through mother’s milk. Where motherhood is hard on the spirit, lemon balm steps in and provides uplifting support for the overworked fray and frazzle that is a big part of the job description. She lifts the heavy feelings of emotional overload, bringing a positive humm to times of stress and fatigue. Working on the nervous system to reduce disruptive static noise, lemon balm is especially helpful in support for postpartum depression/ anxiety, and baby blues.

 Another exciting quality of lemon balm is that she provides relief from gas and bloating! This is such a simple-yet-important action for postpartum to relieve the tender healing tissues in the abdomen where every bubble can feel painful. This also can assist in moving through emotions held in the abdominal area. This ally assists in releasing the anxieties that manifest as upset stomachs or digestive imbalances.

 

We encourage those growing a postpartum garden to include lemon balm. She is easy to grow and dry, and safe/ easy to use. Summertime, she’ll produce delicate white flowers and will be a buzz-worthy attraction for the bees.

Scutellaria lateriflora - Skullcap

American skullcap is another relative of garden mints with subtle yet steady calming effects on the nervous system.  The name refers to the shape of the flower buds, which look a bit like a human skull with a small “cap” or hat. We like to think it is the plant world’s clue that this plant helps “put a lid on” a spinning, anxious mind, especially when it’s spilling over and downing our joy and splashing our loved ones.  We’ve all had those days, and parents of little ones have them more than most!

Skullcap’s chemistry offers rich green nourishment to our nerves and central nervous system. It is especially indicated when we find our anxious minds trying to desperately solve a problem that probably has it’s origins in our tense or exhausted body. Skullcap gently regulates our body’s processing of key mood and rest neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. It acts pharmacologically similar to Valium and other benzodiazepines (sedative drugs) but is significantly less potent and has few harmful side effects. Scullcap says: “Chill out, the solutions will not be found inside your head,” and helps you take a break. For best results, combine skullcap with aromatic herbs, such as lemon balm or mint. For those new to herbalism, American skullcap may be confused with Chinese skullcap (Scutelleria baicalensis) which has different healing effects and should not be used interchangeably.

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