Nutritious Herbal Teas for Pregnancy

Woman drinking tea
There is no more important time to be vigilant about your nutrition than during pregnancy, when your eating choices have lasting consequences for the health and development of your child. Does that sound intense? It should, but good nutrition is within your reach.

During pregnancy, you need more vitamins and minerals, more protein, more omega-3 fatty acids, more amino acids. You need more than just extra calories; you need nutrient-dense extra calories.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I met a midwife in my town who was over 90 years old. She had attended births for even some of my older friends and acquaintances. She was the grandmother protector of all midwives in town. Her only hard rule for eating during pregnancy was her requirement that a pregnant woman have at least one leaf of romaine lettuce every day. That made me laugh, but I ate the lettuce every day. It turns out that romaine is nutrient-, protein-, vitamin-, and mineral-dense. My midwife, considerably younger, asked all of her patients to drink tea every day, and she started every office visit with stinging nettle tea. So, I also drank a lot of nettle tea, raspberry leaf tea, and oat straw tea, all of which both science and tradition tell us are very good for a pregnant woman.

To boost your nutrition during pregnancy, in addition to eating home-cooked whole foods, drink tea. You can switch teas depending on your needs in the moment, and you will help yourself and your baby.

Feeling Queasy?

Ginger and mint. If you are experiencing morning sickness or mild nausea, during pregnancy or any other time, both ginger and mint can help settle your stomach. When I was a child, at the first hint of me having a stomach ache, my mother went outside to pick mint from around our house and made tea. She continued to do this for me then for my children.

Organic Morning Wellness Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes ginger and spearmint along with a hint of peppermint, chamomile and lemon balm.

Herbal Tea for Pregnant Women

Feeling Anxious?

Lemon balm and chamomile. Lemon balm, especially with other herbs, can help reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety, and chamomile is so gently calming that many mothers use it with their babies and children as well.

Organic Peaceful Mama Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes tension easing lemon balm, calcium rich oat straw, calming chamomile, and a whiff of red raspberry leaf and orange peel.

Calming Herbal Tea for Pregnancy

Getting Ready for the Birth?

Red Raspberry Leaf. The nutritious properties of red raspberry leaf are great for all women, but it is particularly good as a tonic for muscles of the pelvic area.

Third Trimester Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby includes 100% organic herbs, including red raspberry leaf (an all-around great pregnancy herb), iron-rich stinging nettle, calming chamomile and rosehips (both full of vitamins and bioflavonoids), and calcium filled oat straw.

Herbal Tea for Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Drinking herbal teas is a gentle, easy way to ensure that you are getting more of the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy from natural foods. Better nutrition is good for you and for your baby. Drink up!

Image © Andres Rodriguez |

Prepare Your Compost Pile for Winter

Yellow Leaves on Grass

It already feels a bit nippy in the mornings, and it’s time to pay attention to the garden. Even when I don’t manage to grow much food in my garden, I still keep feeding my compost pile because I feel better knowing I’m reusing kitchen waste. I am ambitious about my garden, but I just get busy. Maybe you are the same way. Even if all you are going to do is ignore your compost all winter (my personal method), just take some time, maybe 30 minutes, to tend to your bin before you lose it under a layer of snow.

Spread it around. If you worked your compost enough during the year that it is dark brown and earthy smelling, spread it on the garden. You will dig it in come Spring. If you do spread your compost, start a new pile.

Turn the pile. You probably add more kitchen waste (nitrogen rich green material) for a while then more sticks, leaves, and paper (carbon rich brown material) for a while. Turning the pile evens out the mix.

Give it a sniff. Does it smell earthy or is it more like ammonia? If you smell ammonia, you probably have an abundance of green, kitchen waste. You need more brown material, like dried leaves. Fortunately (or unfortunately), you probably have an abundance of leaves right now. Layer the leaves and other materials keep a good mix. You need more brown than green material, probably 2/3 brown to 1/3 green, but this really depends on the specific ingredients in your compost pile. If you add too much brown material, your compost will take longer to break down. It will still break down, just more slowly. Understanding the right balance between green and brown is one of those skills you will develop over time.

Spread it, turn it, sniff it. Done. You are ready for winter. My lazy method of composting fits even the busiest schedule.

Need more help?

If you are up for the challenge of composting all winter, check out the Compost Guy’s Winter Composting information. He’s in southern Ontario, but he gives tips for keeping your compost active further north as well.

If you need Composting Basics for the Beginner Gardener, read our earlier post.

Image © Ben Goode |

3 Essentials of Belly Skin Care During Pregnancy

Child hugging mother's pregnant belly

The skin on your belly has to expand a lot to accommodate your baby during your pregnancy. That leaves your skin tight, dry, and itchy. The irritation of itchy skin isn’t a medical problem, but it is uncomfortable. You can relieve that discomfort naturally.

1. Don’t Scratch

Yes, if feels a lot better to scratch the itch, but the relief is temporary because this irritates your skin even more.

2. Moisturize

Your main defense against belly skin discomfort is moisturizing. At we carry several natural body butters and skin lotions that work wonderfully to soothe a pregnant belly.

Maintaining the elasticity of your skin can also lessen (or even, if you are lucky, prevent) stretch marks, those little silver lines that show up on belly, breasts, and bottom as they blossom faster than your skin can comfortably grow.

Shea Butter Pregnancy Belly Itch CreamAnointment Natural Skin Care, Shea Butter Cream includes shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, lavender and other natural ingredients. Made in Canada

Anointment Natural Belly Butter for PregnancyAnointment Natural Skin Care, Cocoa Butter includes cocoa butter, grape seed oil, coconut oil, vitamin E, and other natural ingredients. Made in Canada.

Dimpleskins Sweet Cheeks Body BalmDimpleskins Sweet Cheeks Body Balm includes Coconut Oil, Apricot Oil, lavender, vanilla, and other natural ingredients. Made in Canada.

Earth Mama Mama to Be OilEarth Mama, Mama To Be Herbal Stretch Oil includes calendula, chamomile, and other natural ingredients. Made in USA.

Graydon natural body balmGraydon Natural Skin Soothing Balm includes avocado oil, grape seed oil, hemp seed oil, calendula, arnica, manuka honey, and other natural ingredients. Mindfully made in small batches in Canada.

miniOrganics Nourishing Body OilminiOrganics Nourishing Body Oil includes jojoba oil, avocado oil, patchouli, frankincense, and other natural ingredients. Made in Australia.

Motherlove Pregnant Belly SalveMotherlove Nurturing Life Gift Box contains a sample of Pregnant Belly Salve, which includes marshmallow root, rosehips, lavender, chamomile, calendula, and other natural ingredients. Made in USA.

3. Relieve the Itch

You probably already have the best natural solution to itchy belly in your kitchen cupboard: oatmeal. An oatmeal bath can help relieve the itchiness you feel from your stretching skin much the same way it relieves itchiness with sunburn, poison ivy, chicken pox, and other skin irritations.

For a soothing oatmeal bath, start with about 1/3 cup oatmeal. Grind either with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. You can add herbs or non-irritating essential oils, but you might already be getting those in your moisturizers. You aren’t trying to create oat tea, so don’t put this in a bag. The goal is to create an oatmeal suspension in your bath with the powdered oatmeal evenly dispersed through the warm (not hot) water. Start to run your warm bath then add the powdered oatmeal under the faucet where it can get stirred into the water. Continue to mix the powder into your bath water until milky then get in. You probably will end up with a light layer of the powder on your skin, so just rinse lightly. Don’t scrub it off, since that soft, silky feel is exactly what you need from the oatmeal bath.

An itchy belly is one of those minor irritations during pregnancy that is easy to relieve with a little self care. Unless you have a problem more serious than expanding skin, natural oils, herbs, and grains can provide all of the skin care you need for your pregnant belly.

For a list of chemical ingredients to avoid during pregnancy, see “Safe Skin Care During Pregnancy” at BabyCenter.

Image © Marina Dyakonova |

Last-minute Travel Games for Kids

Child in a car seat

If you don’t have a quiet book, and there isn’t time to sew a homemade bingo game or buy a nice travel toy before you head out onto the road, try a few of these quick-fix car games to keep your child engaged and happy through a long Labour Day drive.

Licence Plate Hunt

It’s a classic. Games involving license plates are an obvious favorite when you are driving with children. The way to play depends on your child’s age and ability. Before a long trip, I went to a school supply store and bought a large stack of black-outline maps. When the children saw a license plate, they had to be able to read the state name then figure out where it was on the map. The goal was to fill in the whole map.

NOTE: To make writing and drawing easier in the car, we grab a serving tray for each child to give them a hard surface. Trays store easily under the seat or next to a child, so they won’t add bulk.

Are We There Yet?

On the long trip when I had 50 blank maps, I came up with all sorts of map games and projects. We were driving from one side of the country to the other. Every day, I had the kids start out with the same map and draw in a line showing our progress. Your map could be as large or as small as you like, depending on your trip. You can even draw your own map that shows you going over a river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. When you get to the river, mark the path that far. Once you reach the woods, keep marking your progress.

Rainbow of Cars

For a younger child who can’t yet read province or state names, you can play a similar scavenger hunt game by starting with a blank color wheel and a pack of crayons. When your child sees a red car, fill in the red section of the wheel, and so on.

Color Switch Drawing

While you have the crayons out, try a game of Color Switch. Ask your child to draw a house (or a lion or a scene of fall leaves), but they can only use a crayon the same color as the car in front of you. For a faster-paced version, they must use the color of the car next to you. Those cars change frequently, so you could find that they are switching colors every few seconds.

Hi, Cow!

For an easy game that encourages everyone to look out the window, try Hi, Cow! Every time your child sees a cow, they could eat a peanut (or a wasabi pea, in my children’s case) or put a penny in a jar to save for a souvenir. It’s a flexible game, far less about what happens inside the car than about seeing what is outside of the car.

Name that Tune

I play 80s songs from my iPod, and we quiz our children on the titles and bands. Some things are important to know. Everyone in the family could also play this from the radio, but someone has to have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of popular songs. If you already sing a lot of songs together, you could sing the songs rather than using the radio or a music player.

Sing Off

My extended family plays a game at holiday parties where we divide into teams and each team sings a Christmas song then the next and the next until a team can’t think of any more Christmas songs and they drop out. To adapt this game for the car and for a young child, have them sing any song they remember. Everyone can join in and sing. Then ask the next person to sing a song and go around until no one can think of more songs—or until you arrive without your child really noticing the trip.

Rest Stop Olympics

Young children can get especially restless on a long drive. Did you children watch the Olympics last month? A game of Rest Stop Olympics can keep them focused on the next leg of the trip as well as giving them the physical activity they need. The event at one rest stop might be A Timed Tree Running. This was one of my kids’ favorite games at the park. They run to a tree, ane I time them. Simple. The stop after that could be a 20 Cartwheel Marathon or Roll Down the Hill Like a Sausage. If you tell them in advance what the event will be, they can train in the car. This is a fun way to add some physical activity when you have a day of sitting a lot.

Puppet Show

For a very small child, give them a puppet show, or have them give you a puppet show. Use seats as stages and make a show of any story

Endless Stories

My family loves telling stories. My husband started before the children even remember telling them adventure stories starring themselves. He always added heroic versions of recent activities. After they went digging for rocks, for example, their adventure heroes had to cross an ocean and fight pirates to get to a rock quarry, then they had to figure out how to get back home. They had read Odysseus, so every story became a heroic adventure. My children, now teens, still tell one another stories. They call them Option Stories, and they have several accounts (storylines) going at once: one in Avatar (The Last Airbender) world, one on a desert island, one as a Greek god, and so on. The teller frequently comes to a point when the listener has to make a choice: will you take the plane or fly, will you go right or left, will you where the cloak of invisibility or the wings. You could do a short, one-trip-long version of these stories, but part of the reason they are so important to my children is the fact that it is all the same decade-long story. It’s one continuing adventure. So, if you start a story, you may be committing to it long-term.

You don’t need to rush out and buy new toys or games for your car trip. Grab some paper and crayons, a few puppets, and you are ready to make your own games, even when you have to sit in the car for hours.

Image © Greenland |