We have interviewed Kate Bodmann (pictured above), who is a Registered Clinical Herbalist and Registered Aromatherapist who has been providing herbal consultations and classes for the past 10 years in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the owner of Land of Milk and Honey Herbs and Omaha Whole Living, a small health and wellness collective that provides massage, qi gong, and other energy healing practices. We have worked with Kate for many years now and knew that she would be THE Herbalist to interview for the content of this blog.
What herbs are safe to take during pregnancy?
Herbal safety is an important aspect to consider when working with women who are or may become pregnant. There are many safe herbs to use for a variety of health issues. As with all things, every time you take an herb or a medicine, you need to look at the benefit and risk analysis, especially during this time. There are many safe and nourishing herbs for general pregnancy wellness such as gentle nervines or tonic herbs. Honestly, we could all do with a bit more linden, oatstraw, or nettles in our life. When discussing herbs for particular conditions though it really depends on the client. Taking the time to talk through your concerns with a knowledgeable herbalist will help you make the best choices.
Do you recommend herbs internally or topically during pregnancy?
Herbs are appropriate both internally and topically during pregnancy.
I like to do independent research, what resources to you recommend for an expecting mother?
I think it is best to stay away from most online blogs when it comes to taking recommendations about what herbs to take in pregnancy. Blogs can be great for getting basic information and ideas but I have read a lot of information online that should not be trusted. Personally, I go to what I call the "herbal safety bible" - The American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. It will clarify if an herb is contraindicated in pregnancy or lactation and why. That resource combined with a knowledgeable Clinical Herbalist can help you get safe relief from nearly any complaint during pregnancy.
Are there any herbs that can help with the birthing process?
There are birth preparators that I use with clients at different stages. I think there are many practical tips that can be as helpful as herbs. Birth is a process for days and weeks and months, a safe and healthy birth is not simply found in a bottle. A woman’s emotional support and feeling of trust is just one example of what will facilitate the best birth. Individuals are unique, so the only general herb I might recommend is red raspberry leaf. The uterus is a muscle and red raspberry helps many women to have a more efficient labor.
What herbs can help me (the mother) after birth?
I look to how the Chinese traditionally addressed the fourth trimester in terms of rebuilding the mother, which not only helps her, but also helps ensure she is as healthy as possible for her baby. Generally we are looking at blood and qi building herbs to be taken for 3-6 mos postpartum. We know that this improves lactation, rebuilds the mother’s energy reserves, reduces anxiety and post-partum depression, and improves general well-being for the mother. Nettles is an easy place to start if someone is not working with an herbalist.
What herbs or practices are helpful for breast-feeding?
Keeping baby close to the skin, sleeping with baby nearby, having adequate physical and emotional support for the mother, making sure the mother is well fed and has plenty to drink at all times, are the real key to healthy breastfeeding. Using those 4th trimester support herbs is where I recommend beginning when a woman is having lactation issues. When the woman’s body gets what she needs then the body will usually self-regulate in coordination with the baby’s needs. Lactation aids are not normally needed. If they are needed, then we turn to galactogogue herbs. These can be mild herbs like oatstraw and stronger herbs like fennel or blessed thistle.
My newborn has a fever, should I be worried?
When a newborn has a fever it is much more of a health concern than an older child. Newborns should always be checked out when they have a fever.
Does anyone specialize in pediatric herbalism?
The amazing thing about herbalism is that most herbs can be used for children. It is all about making sure you are using herbs that safe for kids AND in the appropriate dosing. Personally, I support kids of all ages from mild things like tummy aches and sleep issues to more difficult things like ADHD and behavioral issues.
Why should an expecting mother see an Herbalist during pregnancy?
I think it is best to see an herbalist BEFORE a woman even becomes pregnant ideally. Helping a woman be in the best physical and emotional health she can be, sets up the baby for its best health. Discussions about kidney jing, epigenetics, and how a baby’s brain develops when the mother is under stress, are just a few things that most new parents have no idea about. But with a bit of education, people can make changes that can greatly impact the health of a child.
I am having trouble conceiving, is there anything you can do to help?
There are several herbs that help a woman to conceive. My favorite that I have had success with is Shatavari. But there can be so many reasons for infertility. Is either future parent under a lot of stress? History of sexual trauma? History of miscarriage? All of these things and more can affect fertility so there isn’t really a one size fits all approach when looking at the body in a holistic way.
How important is it for the parents to be healthy prior to having children?
This is SO important and ideally should be looked at months or even a year in advance of conceiving. It is not the cultural norm in our society to look at these things because our culture does not focus on wellness as much as it focuses on disease management. Longevity and wellness for your baby begins with your wellness! That is your first gift to your baby.
Kate is focused on providing individual herbal and lifestyle solutions for people of all ages and stages of life. She has a passion for teaching others how to take a more active role in their health and longevity through the use of herbs and through her support as a Certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach. She has taught Rosemary Gladstar’s Art and Science of Herbalism for the past 7 years in Omaha as a part of her herbal intensive program. Her next year one class begins in September 2022 and registration is open now! For more information about classes or consultations please go to www.landofmilkandhoneyherbs.com