By Faith Goguen, Certified Clinical Herbalist
As I head into the last months of my pregnancy, the main category of herbs on my mind are partus preparators (partus meaning "labor" and preparators meaning "preparatory"). It seemed contradictory to me that we should take herbs to prepare our bodies for something which we are naturally made to do. That being said, historically various cultures of women have utilized these herbs with great success. Partus preparators are usually taken to tonify, strengthen and prepare the uterus for childbirth. Some commonly known herbs in this category can be quite controversial once you get into the research, so be careful! But there is one herb in this category that has always been very appealing to me, Partridge Berry.
Indigenous to North America, Partridge Berry has been taken by Native American women to aid in pregnancy & childbirth. In the nineteenth century, white settlers noticed this and named the plant "squawvine", which many people still know it as today. Although the name indicates Native American lineage, it was not named thus by them and is today considered quite derogatory, so we prefer the name Partridge Berry.
Partridge Berry is excellent for strengthening the uterus and preparing it for the hard work of labor. To me the most beautiful thing about this plant is that not only does it tonify the uterus, it also tonifies the nervous system. I am sure many women can relate to the slight anxiety that arises as you approach your first birth experience. The calming affects of Partridge Berry on the nervous system are said to bring strength and courage to the birthing mother. It is a great plant to add into your tea to calm any fears and anxieties that might be creeping up. Partridge Berry is also used to alleviate leg cramps, backaches and tension, and to tonify the urinary tract and bowels, making it an ideal ally in the last weeks of pregnancy. In addition to pregnancy, it is also used to treat infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, and severe menstrual pain. The use of Partridge Berry in the first and second trimesters is controversial and you will find a lot of conflicting information in the books. In the first and second trimesters, use only under the care of a qualified herbal practitioner.
Preparations & Applications
In the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy, the tea or tincture can be taken.
Tea: Use 1 Tbsp per cup, steep 15 minutes
Tincture: 20-30 drops daily
Late Pregnancy Tonic Tea
1pt Partridge Berry
1pt Raspberry Leaf
1/2pt Lemon Balm
The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Romm
Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmend Skenderi
The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar