Mother and Baby
Remedies for Labour and After the Birth
Gentle, natural support for birth and beyond
Most women are fortunate these days in that we have a greater say about how and where we would like to give birth to our children. Whichever way you choose to give birth, in hospital or at home; in a birth pool or on dry land; with or without pain relief - natural remedies can be of great assistance. The remedies mentioned here are safe, simple and gently supportive; they may be used by breastfeeding mothers and in conjunction with any medication that might be given at the hospital.
IMPORTANT NOTE: there are many herbs that should not be taken by pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Ask for professional advice if you are at all unsure. See also Disclaimer .
Three weeks before the EDD
Now is the time to really relax and take care of yourself. If you are working, try to have at least a couple of weeks off before your EDD. If you have been active throughout your pregnancy, slow down. Listen to your body; try gentle stretching and breathing exercises. Accept as much help as you are offered and try to sleep as much as you can.
Gentle Remedies for Relaxation
A relaxing aromatherapy massage with appropriate oils in low concentration can be of great benefit, try Neroli or Pettigrain.
White Chestnut Bach flower remedy may help with insomnia due to circling thoughts and worrying; Impatiens for frustration if you are overdue.
Chamomile tea and Limeflower tea will also help to calm and relax. If insomnia persists see a homeopath for advice.
Homeopathic Preparation for the Birth
The best way of preparing for labour is to see a homeopath and take your individual constitutional remedy in order to strengthen your system in preparation. See a homeopath for more information or if you wish to take higher potencies. Arnica is often recommended in preparation for the birth, however, there is a small risk that Arnica can thin the blood and increase bleeding during the birth, so it is better to take Arnica 30c or 200c postpartum.
If you are overdue the two remedies - Pulastilla 200c and Caulophyllum 200c can help to start the birth process. Pulsatilla helps to soothe and reassure anxiety in the baby and Caulophyllum helps to stregthen utrine contractions. Take the Pulsatilla first then wait 15 minutes then take the Caulophyllum. Wait 15 minutes then repeat the above twice so that you take 3 doses of each remedy alternately with a 15 minutes space in between each one. Then wait! This process can be repeated three times on consecutive days.
Remedies for first stage of labour
In the first stage of labour it is important to keep as relaxed as possible. The same is true for your birthing partner(s). In the earlier part: try to sleep; have a bath; do gentle stretches through the contractions; listen to music and generally try to keep calm. It might be helpful look at the contractions in a different way, rather than as a painful experience, look at them as "an interesting sensation that demands your full attention."
Five Flower Remedy, more commonly known as Rescue Remedy, is an ideal remedy to take during labour and after the birth. Add twenty drops to a bottle of spring water and drink frequently. The drops can also be added to herbal teas or diluted apple juice (four drops per cup). Four drops may be added to baby's first bath.
You might like to take an aromatic spray in with you (especially if the labour ward does not smell particularly nice). A spray made with a base of flower water (choose from lavender, rose or chamomile water) will cool you down, calm and relax you and perfume and purify the air. If you wish, add four drops each of Five-flower remedy, crab apple and walnut.
Clary sage has been used during labour to stimulate contractions - use in a massage oil. Use one drop of clary sage per five ml of base oil.
Remedies for the transition and second stage of labour
By this time in the proceedings, you will probably not be thinking about remedies at all! During transition your whole being is focused on the rhythm of the contractions, your breathing and the movements of the baby inside you. As the second stage begins you are completely absorbed in pushing and breathing. This is as it should be. Perhaps the best method of pain relief is to focus on the breath, try not to let anything take you away from this focus. If you wish, a birthing partner may add flower remedies to your drinks at this stage. Olive, if the labour has been long and you are very tired; Larch for loss of confidence; Mimulus for fear. These are to be given in addition to Walnut and Five-flower remedy.
Remedies for the third stage of labour
Once your baby is born, it is good for you and the baby to cuddle and be close until the cord stops pulsating, if this is possible. Once the cord is cut or if the contractions start, it is time to direct your attention to the expulsion of the placenta. It does seem rather tiresome to get back into having contractions again, when you would much rather be gazing at and holding your little one. Caulophyllum 30c or 200c is an invaluable homeopathic remedy for stimulating contractions, and may be taken instead of the injection offered for the same purpose. This remedy is available from the Haelan Centre Holistic Pharmacy.
Remedies for the next few weeks
Arnica helps alleviate bruising, dull pain and shock it is useful for both mother and baby - who will get the dose through the breast milk. Hypericum helps to reduce the sharper pain associated with tears and cuts that occur during the birth. Take these in the 30c potency until you can move around freely without pain. Arnica 200c is more appropriate if the birth was difficult or for first time mums as it helps to treat shock. Bothe remedies greatly speed up the healing process, but remember not to do too much too soon. You will probably know in yourself when to stop these remedies, if you stop too early you feel markedly more uncomfortable than when you were taking the medicine.
Continue to take Five Flower and Walnut flower remedies they will help you to adjust, particularly if you are a first time mother.
Aromatherapists recommend Jasmine essential oil to help to alleviate the baby blues. It is available as a 5% dilution to use as perfume oil - it makes a lovely present for a new mother.
IMPORTANT NOTE: it is especially important now to keep up the good nutritional habits that you hopefully established during pregnancy. Please refer to the pregnancy article for detailed nutritional information; the same guidelines continue to apply.
Bach flower remedies for adapting to life after the birth
How to take Bach remedies
Add two drops of the chosen remedies to a 30ml bottle of spring water (special dropper bottles are available). Both mother and baby may take these diluted drops internally, but if you prefer, four drops of the mixture can be added to baby's bath or rubbed behind the ears. Discard the mixture after one week and make up another bottle with fresh water. Wash and sterilise the bottle and dropper before re-using.
Post-natal herbal teas
Fennel Tea: traditional tea for helping to stimulate the supply of breast milk and to soothe windy babies. After four months, if you are not breast-feeding, you can add 1 tablespoon of fennel tea to the formula.
Chamomile Tea: can also help colicy babies see note on Cranio-Sacral therapy
Vervain Tea: a useful tea for calming and strengthening the nerves of the new mother. It is also useful for stimulating supply of breast milk, particularly where it is diminished due to stress.
Raspberry leaf Tea: is still of use as it is nourishing and helps to uterus to contract.
Bath or spray mix for healing the perineum
A herbal infusion of equal parts Marigold flowers, Comfrey and St John's Wort can also be added to the bath to speed healing of the perineum. Make a strong pot of tea and add to the bath. If you have been advised not to bath, put the mixture in a clean spray bottle and spray after you use the toilet. Make up a new spray every other day.
Products for the newborn
It is best to keep use of baby products to a minimum in the first weeks. Certainly avoid all the commercial baby products, but even the more natural one's may contain essential oils which can irritate brand new skin. Clean baby using plain, warm water, finish with a wipe of baby oil before you pop on the nappy.
Weleda's Baby Oil is versatile and gentle - suitable for moisturising, soothing dry/sore skin, cleaning, and protecting against nappy rash. Weleda Nappy Change Cream for more advanced cases of nappy rash.
A note about Cranio Sacral therapy
Craniosacral therapy is an ideal therapy for newborn babies and their mothers. By making very subtle adjustments, the therapist may treat any imbalances resulting from the traumatic experience of birth. It can help many common problems such as unexplained crying, colic, digestion problems and breastfeeding problems. It is invaluable for helping babies to settle into life outside the womb.
Spiritual midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
I found this a useful read in preparation for birth as it give numerous personal accounts of different kinds of birth. Be warned of the '60s style of writing and some outdated midwifery techniques.
Breast is Best by Penny and Andrew Stanway
This is the breast feeding bible, invaluable for mums new to breastfeeding. It provides an answer to all questions and dilemmas that you may come across.
Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth
Invaluable information for sleep deprived parents! Gives information on natural sleep patterns and how to get your child into a sleeping routine.
Other Haelan Pages of Interest to Pregnant Women
Mother & Baby Yoga with Beatrice Schulze
Mother & Baby Yoga with Kate Hayes
Hypnobirthing Mongan Method
Pregnancy Massage at the Haelan Centre
Cranio Sacral Therapy for Mothers and Babies
Homeopathy for the Family
Pre-Birth Support with Acupuncture
Pregnancy Yoga at the Haelan Centre
Natural Health during Pregnancy
Written by Julia Moore.