Herbal remedies in pregnancy

Herbal – or ‘natural’ – remedies in pregnancy may not be as safe as you think. Here’s what you need to know before trying alternative medicines.

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Most pregnant women think twice before taking any medicine, but recent figures suggest the same doesn’t go for ‘natural’, herbal or alternative remedies.

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Around 57% of pregnant women take at least one herbal remedy, a study in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice found.

So, are herbal remedies safe for you during your pregnancy?

Herbal remedies, such as a tablet or tincture, tend to be less well regulated than medicines and there have been few large studies.

As with any medication, don’t take it when it’s not needed, and avoid herbal preparations in the first trimester. After that, have only minimal amounts for short periods, and stop at once if you suffer adverse effects.

Check with your doctor or midwife, but also consult a qualified herbalist rather than use over-the-counter herbal preparations.

Mum’s story

“Garlic and onions helped”

“There isn’t much you can take if you’ve got a rotten cold during pregnancy. I was told by my midwife to eat garlic and onions, especially for a sore throat, and found they helped.

“Using a humidifier in my bedroom before I went to sleep helped me breathe a bit easier, but you have to clean it regularly.

“If you’re really suffering, take a little paracetamol to ease aches and pains. It’s controversial, as it’s been linked to asthma in babies of mums who use it frequently. But it’s definitely the safest painkiller, especially if you use it only when you really have to.

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“You need to be careful with herbal remedies, though, as they may not have been tested for side-effects during pregnancy.”
Liz, 36, mum to Celia, 4, and David, 10 months

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