The Pregnancy Herbal: Safe, Natural and Effective Remedies to Use Before, During and After Pregnancy by Susannah Marriott. London: Carroll & Brown Limited; 2012. Softcover; 128 pages. ISBN: 9781907952081. £14.99. [approx. $24.00 USD]
The Pregnancy Herbal by Susannah Marriott is a delightful, user-friendly book. As a midwife and naturopathic physician, I am pleased to have such a well-done resource for women, moms, and health practitioners alike. The author has done an excellent job of incorporating a wealth of safe, useful herbal information and recipes for use before and during pregnancy, as well as in the postpartum period.
The book begins with a section on basic herbal terms, preparations, and useful equipment to have on hand for creating herbal preparations. Marriott includes many instructive photos to illustrate the making of preparations and recipes. She masterfully provides valuable pregnancy information without overwhelming the reader with superfluous details or facts.
In the following section, Marriott addresses specific herbs and their corresponding use during various times of pregnancy, starting with a useful section on pre-pregnancy health for those women who want to incorporate some simple wellness practices to encourage fertility including foods, herbal baths, and teas.
The next three sections cover the trimesters of pregnancy and include several herbs and foods that are recommended specifically in each trimester, depending on the types of health challenges that may occur. The first trimester includes herbs such as ginger (Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae), and garlic (Allium sativum, Alliaceae). Second trimester herbs include chamomile (Matricaria recutita, Asteraceae), blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium, Ericaceae), and lemon (Citrus x limon, Rutaceae). The third trimester subsection covers red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus, Rosaceae), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lamiaceae), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Fabaceae).
Each herb entry has a brief description of the herb’s history and usage and a recipe or two on how it may be used in pregnancy. Marriott has included pictures of the plants and many of the recipes as finished products or in the process of being made, and easy-to-follow directions. She has given reasonable consideration to which herbs are included in which trimester, offering pregnancy-friendly information while keeping in mind the special needs of pregnant women and their connection with the herbs. The recipes range from herbal soaps, baths, body products, teas, desserts, scents, and garlands of citrus and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, Lauraceae). For example, the book presents a simple recipe for garlic cough syrup made from three common kitchen ingredients: garlic, honey, and water. This recipe can be made easily on the stove top in about an hour and will store for up to six months. It makes for a great, safe cough syrup to soothe and break up mucus during pregnancy.
The same format is used in the sixth chapter of the book, the postpartum period, which includes herbs such as arnica (Arnica montana, Asteraceae), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare, Apiaceae), and jasmine (Jasminum officinale, Oleaceae) to address healing after delivery, breast-feeding support, and wellness support for emotional challenges that may crop up during this time. I particularly like the rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae) recipe Marriott has included for use as a mister for the baby’s room.
The last chapter focuses on several herbs that can be used in baby care, giving mom several helpful recipes and safe uses of these common herbs for baby. This section comprises a number of lovely photos of moms and their babies, making it very attractive and visually encouraging mothers to use these plants and preparations.
I highly recommend this book as a reliable guide to safe and useful herbal information for the pregnant woman and postpartum mom, and I encourage them to incorporate these simple, healthy wellness ideas into their pregnancy selfcare. Additionally, I encourage other healthcare providers to pregnant women to read and share this book, as well as to students, herbalists, and naturopathic physicians.
—Mary Bove, NDBrattleboro Naturopathic ClinicBrattleboro, VT