Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

International Homebirth Day, 6th June

We are so fortunate in New Zealand that home birthing is a choice that is well supported by our medical system and our amazing homebirth midwives. Homebirth is not only cost effective, but reduces unnecessary interventions. Being in your own space also allows the production of Oxytocin which is essential for maintaining labour. Stress and adrenaline turns this off, and a bright, loud, different environment may well make a woman uncomfortable and slow down labour.

I am fortunate enough to have birthed two of my three babies at home, and being able to be in my own bed after birth with baby next to me was an extra special experience.

It’s been a while since I did a pregnancy post, so as per my request list, here is one about Labour. Specifically remedies to support a long labour or support for a fast birth.

A lot of the things around labour come down to preparation. Before we talk about labour, here are some things to consider around preparation for birth:

Diet and exercise are always your first preventative medicine measures. A diet rich in whole foods and low in sugar and processed foods, and regular exercise is the foundation for health and wellness.

Vitamin C- Dr Fred Klenner in the 1940s and 1950s gave pregnant women vitamin C, 4g a day in the first trimester, 6g a day in the second trimester and 10g a day in the third trimester. His experience was that the vitamin C improved elasticity of the perineum (reducing tearing), strengthened blood vessels (reducing bleeding risk), reduced stretch marks, and shortened labours. While I have not read any studies around this, his experience with over 2,500 deliveries as reported in the Orthomolecular News is fascinating, and worth trying, as the benefits far outweigh any risks.

As well as Vitamin C there may be other nutrients worth supplementing with, a Naturopath would be able to advise you here. If you get leg cramps at any point in your pregnancy or crave chocolate consider supplementing with Magnesium. It is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, so all those contractions will be using magnesium!

Chiropractic care- if there is a functional reason baby cannot fit through the birth canal, an emergency Caesarian section is the only option. A chiropractor may be able to help with ensuring the pelvis is aligned well and a natural birth is possible.

Acupuncture- this can be used for induction when baby is “overdue”, and can be effective at starting labour naturally. This may be worth trying if your lead maternity carer is wanting to induce.

Now we have talked about some preparation, let’s discuss labour itself.

Labour is made up of three stages, the first stage when the cervix is dilating, the second stage when the baby is moving through the birth canal, and the third stage when the placenta is delivered. Often though first stage is not considered effective labour until at least 4cm dilated, and contractions are regular.

In the early stages of labour you may consider the following remedies. They may “shorten” a labour because they help regulate the contractions

Pulsatilla – for contractions that come and go- there may be three in a row, 5 minutes apart and then none for an hour. Pulsatilla is changeable. Mentally and emotionally Pulsatilla likes company (does not want to be left alone) and may be teary, emotional and feel like they are not doing a good job. They may be warm, and intolerant of heat, and are not very thirsty.

Caullophyllum – contractions are very painful, cramping, sharp and move around, despite this labour does not progress. Contractions can be short (30 seconds), and can be intermittent or irregular. There may be prickling sensations in the cervix. This may look like Pulsatilla, but she is more likely to be chilly and thirsty.

Gelsemium – exhausted before effective labour begins, this can be used to start labour and for failure to progress. Lots of weakness,and trembling, especially in lower legs. Contractions are short and ineffective, drawing baby up instead of pushing her down. Gelsemium also has a lot of anticipatory anxiety.

For a very short labour, or one that is high stress or if there is blood loss, then you may go into shock. Having a partner, support person or doula helping with remedies is invaluable here as a woman labouring is often not in the right frame of mind to select a remedy.

Rescue Remedy is my first suggestion here. I credit it for the reason I didn’t go into shock after the birth of my second, I had a 30 minute effective labour and my midwife and friend for support only arrived when baby was crowning. My husband was away and I was otherwise home with a 3 year old. I took a couple of doses before birth and one around half an hour afterwards.

Arnica is also a good remedy for shock, especially if they don’t want to be touched and say “I’m fine” when they clearly are not.

Aconite is commonly used for shock, but I would expect to see an element of fear or panic with Aconite.

Briefly, you will also want the following remedies in your kit for post partum:

Arnica – can be used both for mother and baby, especially useful for baby if there is any trauma, brushing or distortion of the head or they are born upset. For mum can help with a long labour when exhausted, trauma and tears, after pains and bleeding

Bellis Perennis – the “arnica of the breast and uterus” this helps after birth to get the uterus back to its pre pregnancy size, aids healing and helps with after pains

Hypercal lotion- this can be diluted and used to bathe the vulva. It can be especially helpful if there has been any tearing to promote rapid healing

There are many more remedies that may be appropriate for you.

I recommend the birth kit from Selene Homeopathics in Tauranga, or message me for a consult to find remedies for your specific situation.

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