An important part in my series on natural childbirth is of course the actual birth. Perhaps it’s prudent to start by defining natural childbirth. To me, natural excludes any substance that will pass through the placenta and affect the baby or inhibit your experience of actually vaginally giving birth.
As with my previous posts on this subject, please remember that I am sharing what worked for me and for others I know, and am advising you to do your own research and decide for yourself what you will use.
There are many herbs that can or have been used for childbirth but I am going to focus on the ones that I had on hand during my own labour as those were the ones I felt would be most valuable to me at the time.
Although some professionals will still not allow labouring women to eat or drink anything for the duration of their labour, any homebirther will know how important it is to keep your energy levels up.Â During your labour you might find you do not want to eat anything, but it is still vital to stay hydrated. Using these herbs in a tea might be a good way to get them in. In the days before labour I made sure everything was well labelled and I wrote a list of what herbs my mom should give me in different situations. It’s useful making someone else responsible for this as you might not find yourself able to focus on these small but significant things at the time.
I have written a lot about this fantastic stuff on my blog before. This is useful for when you start feeling stressed, anxious or panicky. A few drops on the tongue, or the â€˜sweets’ to chew as often as you need should help keep you calm. You cannot overdose on this and there are no harmful side effects.
Bach Oak Remedy
For times when you need your strength, when you need to be strong and to â€˜stay the course’. A few drops on the tongue again. You can’t overdose.
Bach Impatients Remedy
I had a 48 hour labour and found myself getting frustrated at times. This remedy does what it says on the tin (bottle). It helps with impatience
Although widely accepted for bruising, arnica can also be used for muscle damage and repair. (Women who use Arnica after a c-section also heal a lot faster than those who don’t).Â Arnica comes readily available in three strengths, C6 and C30 and C200. C6 is ideal for â€˜regular’ use, and C200 is better for acute cases, such as childbirth. However, you’re not likely to use C200 for much else in life, so rather buy the C6 and shake it up with a little water and drink that.
After labour, take two tablets three times a day for as long as you need it.
Arnica can cause the blood to thin and therefore cause extra bleeding, so make sure to have some Shepherd’s Purse on hand.
Valerian, Chamomile, Arnica and Shepherds Purse also work well for after pains.
DO NOT test it out before the baby is born! Angelica Root causes the placenta to release, which makes it a fantastic substitute for the oxytocin (pitocin) injection they normally want to give you once the baby is born.Â Coming from a family history of retained placenta we were concerned that I might have problems getting the placenta out, but 15ml of this right after my daughter was born (under my tongue, I barely remember getting it!) and my placenta literally dropped out in the shower 20 minutes later.Â If nothing’s happened after 15 – 20 minutes you can have a further 15ml.
Why bother, I hear you ask?
In an abstract called The perinatal application of oxytocin and its potential influence on the human psyche the German Doctor C.Plothe writes â€œOften, after the use of oxytocin, many treated mothers in my practice reported they failed to sense an immediate closeness towards their newborn child after birth. Such an experience leaves traces of doubt and nervousness towards the concerned child in the mind of the mother. Mothers also reported experiencing differences in the quality of the bonding after birth, -differences which were noted based on comparisons of oxytocin-assisted childbirths to ones taking place without the use of oxytocin. Midwives also reported significantly higher rates of postnatal depression after an oxytocin-assisted deliveryâ€.
Reason enough for me.
Remember, the body releases natural oxytocin during labour. The problem here is with the synthetic stuff.
Angelica Root can also be used once your periods have retuned to help regulate and manage them if they become erratic or painful.
As mentioned above, Shepherd’s Purse is used to stem haemorrhaging. I was blessed in having a water birth that it was an almost bloodless experience, and I did not tear, nor did I haemorrhage, so I did not need to use this.
I am told, however, that 10ml taken three times a day will stem a very heavy period, and 15ml for a post partum haemorrhage should do the same. In case of a haemorrhage, I’d still recommend getting to a health care professional to check you out, but you don’t want to bleed out on the way, so take the Shepherd’s Purse.
Shepherd’s Purse can cause blood to clot, so not to be taken during labour or pregnancy.
Your perineam, torn or not, is going to be sore for a few days after birth, and generally will sting.Â If you’ve had a first or second degree tear, leave it to heal naturally. It is less painful and heals quicker than stitches.Â Hopefully it’ll have torn naturally too as tears heal better, faster and easier than cuts.
Make this sitz bath in early labour and use it over the next few days to bath in, keeping some separate to dab on your perineum whenever you go to the loo.
Family Herbal Remedies has a great recipe, and resources for buying herbs
Herb Lore also has some great ideas for frozen pads, a peri bottle and a sitz bath.
I personally use Woodland Herbs in the UK for herbs. They are competitively priced and offer a fast and trustworthy service.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Apart from tasting great, drinking it and reducing the dosage as per my previous post will help the uterus contract and become smaller, helping to lose that mummy tummy a lot quicker.
Helios pharmacy offers a â€˜birth kit‘ with 18 different homeopathic products for childbirth (including some Iâ€˜ve mentioned here). I think this is a fantastic kit for someone who wants to be prepared for all eventualities, but felt that it was a little more than I needed. It might be worth looking in to though, if you have particular areas of labour and childbirth that you are concerned about.
The information above is intended to serve as a starting point for your own research, it is not a definitive guide, since there is no such thing. Just as no two people are the same, no two labours are the same, so it really is best to have an all round knowledge of what’s available, and what could or should be used at which point.
Finally, before your first contraction,Â know in your heart, and have your mind made up as to what your limits are, make sure your birth partners and if you have them, your professional assistants know them and banish doubts and fears from your mind and your birthing space.
Other posts in this series:
- Preparing for a Natural Childbirth
- Natural Homebirth vs. Natural Hospital Birth
- Natural Childbirth in Layman’s Terms