Andreana Bitsis

Herbalism and Midwifery with The Midwife Is In

In Search of a Greener New York is an ongoing Garden Collage series of explorations about sustainability efforts in New York City and beyond– including the people, places, and ideas that are making Manhattan a healthier, happier place to live. In this column, we spotlight individuals who are making New York a “greener” place in an attempt to discover how, exactly, they are doing it. This week, GC spotlights Chloë Lubell, an NYC-based midwife who runs the education-oriented blog The Midwife Is In.

Based out of NYC, Chloë Lubell is a certified Nurse Midwife and RN who runs The Midwife Is In on her time off. The Midwife Is In is an education-based blog that offers holistic medical advice related to reproductive health, mixing issues of social justice with DIYs on how to deal with bad cramps (in case you’re wondering, yarrow tea is the way to go).

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Lubell’s work focuses especially on those whose needs often lie outside traditional medicine (specifically the LGBT community) and her approach to medicine has a similarly-comprehensive perspective, piecing together different traditions to form her own unified system. (For example, midwifery doesn’t offer herbal training, beyond basics like castor oil inducing labor, but Lubell embraces the work of herbalist Susun Weed.)

We caught up with Lubell in Prospect Park as she was finishing up a series of workshops on herbs for different stages of pregnancy, from pre-conception to post-partum.

On her favorite herb: “For pregnancy, I love red raspberry leaf,” says Lubell. “It’s excellent for everything from varicose veins to shortening the second stage of labor. It can decrease your risk of having a C-section or an interventive labor with vacuum or forceps. It strengthens your uterus, so instead of being an herb that starts labor, it’s one of those more gentle, nutritive herbs that improves your strength from the get-go, so that when you do go into labor it’s shorter and easier.”

On her dream garden: “I live in Brooklyn and I don’t have space, but I have high, high hopes for whenever I do have a garden. I drew it the other day– you know, big bushes of rosemary and lavender and yarrow and vitex and all kinds of fun things. What I do now is when I’m up in Connecticut where my in-laws live, I harvest all of their nettles— which they love, and I love too– because nettles are excellent. They’re just such wonderful plants. They’re for anemia and allergies and labor preparation. I bring them home and I dry them and make tinctures or teas.”

On her must-stop herb shops in NYC:One’s called Remedies and that’s in Cobble Hill. The other one’s called the Radical Herb Shop, and that’s where I’ve been doing the workshops. I also get a Wellness Share form a beloved friend of mine who owns and runs an herb farm called Locust Light Farm in New Jersey.”

On spending time outdoors: “I’m not much of a hiker because I’m lazy, but I spend a lot of time outside. Now that I’ve been learning about them, every time I’m outside I’m looking around, I’m like, “Oh, that’s that, that’s that.” I was in Norway on vacation and they have chamomile growing everywhere just in the grass. I was like, ‘This is crazy you guys, there’s so much chamomile!’  I started harvesting it and then realized I didn’t know what I was gonna do with it because I couldn’t take it home…”

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