Using homeopathy for childbirth will help you prepare for the many emotional and physical symptoms of early and established labour. Homeopathic remedies and knowing how to use them are an extremely helpful addition to any birth bag, whether you are going to have your baby in hospital or at home and whether you are planning a normal birth without interventions, a birth with pharmacological pain relief or a caesarean birth. To book click here.
How can homeopathy help in childbirth?
Homeopathy helps with the many emotional symptoms of labour, such as anxiety, fear and the feeling of being overwhelmed. These symptoms arise irrespective of what type of birth you are planning and can often arise even with established childbirth preparation techniques you have been learning. Homeopathy enables you to feel more balanced and therefore optimises your focus and your use of visualisations and breathing.
This course is primarily geared towards pregnant people and their partners. The course will look at the main homeopathic remedies that are helpful in labour birth and beyond and will cover the following topics amongst others:
Homeopathy and symptoms during labour
1. When the labour starts going very quickly and its hard to stay focused and catch your breath
2. When you feel completely exhausted because the labour has been long
3. When you feel anxious or frightened
4. When you feel overwhelmed or distressed
5. When you have the symptoms of a back labour
How do I use homeopathic remedies during labour and birth?
We will look at potency (how strong should a remedy be), dosage (how should it be given?) and repeats (how often should it be repeated within a certain time span).
At the end of the course you will have a basic idea of how homeopathy supports women during this intense time of transition and also what remedies match which symptoms.
You will also have an idea of how to use a basic homeopathic birth kit, and we will talk a bit about creating your own birth and postpartum kit. There is an online support tool for the course so participants will be able to refer to this to refresh their memories after the course is over!
This information is also available in a one to one private session, if you cannot make the course. More information here.
This weekend I got to attend a great Spinning Babies Workshop given by Spinning Baby trainer Jennifer Walker. It was a wonderful inspiring session and I would recommend it or similar to any doula.
In conservative antenatal education we are all taught to focus on the cervix as a measure of progress and change in labour. As doulas we know that the cervix is simply a symptom of the work of the fundus and all the surrounding ligaments, soft tissues and muscles and we rarely consider dilation in supporting a woman ‘s prgression in labour. Instead we look at the depth the intensity and the woman’s state. Is she still building endorphins, or has she entered into that trance like state of deep labour?
What Spinning Babies offers is an additional perspective to progression and movement (or lack of) in labour based on the baby’s position within the mother’s pelvis, rather than on cervical dilation. An understanding of optimal positioning and of the symptoms of sub optimal positioning and how these can arise over the pregnancy can offer opportunities for the doula or midwife (or both) to take action to improve the positioning and therefore improve progression towards birth.
Here are the Top Ten Things that I learnt
1. Where the baby is, is more important than dilation
A woman can be quite dilated, but if her baby is not in an optimal position to progress through the pelvis then the dilation is of no consequence, alternatively the woman can be hardly dilated at all, but once her baby gets into an optimal position, the labour can progress very quickly indeed. The position of the baby is determined by the mother and her pelvic balance.
2. Knowing the difference between passive patience and active patience
Passive patience is very high up on the doula check list in general. There is that idyllic image of the doula sitting and knitting which Michel Odent paints, and most experienced doulas will only become more hands on when the mother or her birth partner need and request more hands on support. However, in the worskshop, the point was made that whilst time is not often given to a birthing mother in our highly medicalised birth culture, continuing to simply wait and wait and wait for labour to progress can sometimes not help if the baby is not in an optimal position. Instead, if the doula and midwife can recognise the symptoms of sub optimal positioning and know exactly where in the pelvis the baby is and identify what aspect of the soft tissues, ligaments, muscles or fascia are contributing to the sub optimal positioning then action can be taken to improve the position of the baby. However its important to note that this is not some natural form of “active management of labour”, but rather an active style of waiting and supporting.
3. Balancing the pelvis, womb and everything that supports them enables good maternal position and baby’s position
Most women’s pelvis’ are not balanced. We all have previous injuries that we may have encountered along our teenage years or repetitive strains that we do on account of our job, or as part of our less than optimal posture. Also we all favour one side over the other to do certain tasks; for example writing, pulling or picking up things. All of these things accumulate and eventually we become unbalanced. When pregnancy starts we can take action to balance our pelvis’. There are exercises we can do daily and others weekly to improve pelvic balance and these are referred to as The Three Sisters, or more recently the Fantastic Four! In addition the practice of yoga and optimal sleeping positions can also be of great benefit.
4. Pelvis’ are differently shaped and shape will determine ease of the baby’s passage through it.
All women will have a slightly differently shaped pelvis. However in addition to the individual variations women have, there are generic groups of pelvis’. Some pelvis’ are more narrow in the inlet but wider in the outlet and others are wider in the inlet and narrower at the outlet. Depending which type of pelvis a woman has will determine whether the space for her baby to engage, rotate and descend is tighter or narrower or wider. It will also determine in which part of her pelvis the baby will have the narrowest fit during the journey to birth.
Pelvis’ have three parts to them, an inlet a mid pelvis and an outlet. In Ireland traditionally most women have a gynecoid pelvis, however with a greater number of women from different cultures birthing in Ireland, a wider range of pelvic shapes are now more common. It can help if the woman knows the shape of her own pelvis.
5. Often where the baby is, is dependent on the quality and balance of the soft tissues
For example the tone of the muscles, the amount of tension in the round ligaments, the alignment and symmetry of the broad ligament, the tightness of the lateral sacral ligament, the length or shortness of the muscles, notablly the psoas muscle, and the pelvic floor muscles can all affect balance and ultimately the position of the baby. Hence the importance of daily balance practices during pregnancy and body work such as yoga, and also at least one visit to the chiropractor or osteopath during late pregnancy, or if funds permit visits throughout pregnancy!
6. Every woman benefits from daily practice during pregnancy to improve balance
The three sisters of balance (now the fantastic four) are useful daily practices in pregnancy and can also be used in labour as well if imbalance is suspected. They are
7. Tips to try in early labour or just before if the baby is high and at the pelvic inlet but doesnt engage
As doulas we are generally familiar with the symptoms that this scenario presents. Mothers will have a start stop labour that may go on for several days as the baby tries to engage, the contractions may be double ones and painful but the true trance like state of labour doesn’t come on and the energy of the labour doesn’t move forwards. This can apply to early labour at home and to early labour in hospital/home.
Good tools to use here in addition to the Fantastic Four, are
Posterior pelvic tilts against a wall, as opposed to an anterior pelvic tilt (which women are often encouraged to do whilst sitting on a ball).
Abdominal lift and tuck if the mum is multparous,, this literally helps to lift the mum’s tummy into the pelvic area,
Crawling on hands and knees
Vigorous circling on the ball can be used (the analogy being an egg slipping into an egg cup if it is spun on the rim enough),
Walchers manoeuvre ie actually leaning back on the bed with the feet hanging off, or alternatively leaning backwards over the ball in a sort of half “camel” back bend for three contractions,
8. Tips to try when the baby is in the mid pelvis but not effectively rotating and so despite contractions the labour doesnt progress
The head has engaged in this case but is sitting at an angle within the pelvis in an asymmetrical way and has not completed the rotation it needs to within the pelvis in order for labour to continue. This is usually because the baby has not been able to adopt a good position, more often than not it can be due to the head not being tucked in, but being deflexed instead.
Symptoms here are where the labour has stayed at more or less the same point for a long period of time and the woman is tired. The woman reports continuous pain even between the contractions. She may be advanced in terms of dilation up to of between 5cm and 8cm. There may be a premature urge to push. Options to help here include
The Fantastic Four especially the side lying release for three contractions
Open knee chest position
Shaking the apple tree with the open knee chest. This enables the baby to move out of the pelvis a tiny bit and then when the baby returns he or she may have improved flexion with the chin tucked in,
Lunges, and lifting one leg up high in a lunge using a bed or a chair or going sideways up and down the stairs
9. Tips to try when the baby is in the outlet
At this point the mother may be fully dilated and it may even be possible to see the head through the labia, but the baby’s progress may be impeded due to a high arch within the pelvis or other positional issues associated with the outlet., More than likely though progress could be impeded by the mother being asked to push in a way that makes her uncomfortable. Symptoms can include the lack of an urge to push and a cervical lip, or a lot of pressure from the care giver to do coached pushing. Options to help here in addition to the Fantastic Four include:
Squatting on a ball and leaning backwards can enable a wider opening at the pelvic arch
Putting pressure on the sacrotuberal ligaments so that they can release, even to the point of manually assisting the release if you are confident (that wouldnt be me!)
Sitting on the toilet with a straight back and bringing the knees together rather than extending them wide out
Ensuring that the mother is not curling around the baby, but is sitting or lying on her left side with her back straight, this is especially true if the baby is OP, as the baby will have a straight back and needs the mother’s straight back to get out! If she is lying on her side she will need a straight back and could use a peanut ball.
10. The importance of a tucked head in the baby
When the baby’s head is well tucked in then all the aspects of passing through the pelvis and putting appropriate pressure on the cervix can be achieved. Flexion is probably the most important aspect of baby’s position. A LOA position promotes a good head tuck whereas an ROA may do the opposite. Practising the Fantastic Four in Pregnancy and using good sleep practices and safe movement practices during pregnancy will enable a baby to be more tucked in. This includes exercises such as yoga, which naturally ensures that ligaments and muscles are well toned and the psoas is released from accumulated tension.
DISCLAIMER: These were things that I personally took from the workshop[. For guidelines and more information please either attend a Spinning Babies Workshop or consult the spinningbabies website
I was with a few women the other day and one of the topics that came up was the difficulty in coping with the gradual realisation that our own mothers may be unwell with a poor or uncertain prognosis. What does that mean for us as mothers in our own right, trying to care for our very young families and trying to be there for our mothers physically emotionally and spiritually? It means feeling over stretched, and can be especially intense when we are pregnant, And the very fact that it is our mother and not another relative makes it somehow more intense.
The small discussion that ensued made me reflect on our relationship with our mothers and mothering, and I started to see some parallels between preparing for birth and preparing for death; they are both about waves of separation. Becoming a mother and letting go of a mother seem to be somehow linked.
Journeying within our own mothers
Perhaps one of the reasons we feel differently about our mothers is that for many of us we lived inside her for 9 months! Our journey with our mother starts when we live within her during pregnancy. Some “energy workers” even point out that part of “us” existed in our mother’s eggs when she was growing inside her own mother, so perhaps in an energetic sense we know her very well, more than other relatives, we grew with her and are part of her from a long time back!
In that womb time most people would agree that in the last months of pregnancy we feel our mother’s rhythms, her wants, her heartbeat, the lilt of her walk the sound of her voice and perhaps even her smile. We know when she feels fear, or anger and when her heart is open with love. Some midwives even suggest that a breech presentation enables a baby to hear its mother’s heartbeat more strongly and perhaps breech babies need that energy of the heart more than other babies.
Birth; a time of separation
When its time to let go and leave our womb home (and our mothers), we initiate the time for birth, provided we are given the opportunity, and are not induced of course. What makes us ready as babies to “let go” and be born is unclear. I always remember my mother in “wives tale” mode saying to me that birth is a process of separation, and that sometimes that process can be painful, for the mother and sometimes for the baby. I have always been mindful of that little snippet of ancient wisdom which my mother heard from a traditional midwife who attended her mother’s own 8 home births. in my work as a doula.
Even though when we are born we do physically separate from our mothers, “mother nature” herself immediately prompts us to seek her again with all our newborn reflexes, crawling, snuffling, reaching bobbing to find that point of connection at her breast where we can hear her heartbeat once more and feel comfort and holding. We leave and we return! The instincts that prompt us to do this last well beyond the first “golden hour” and research has shown that even babies who are three months old and have only ever been artificially fed will still make an attempt to seek the breast.
Labour: a misnomer?
In English the name we give to the process which brings us to birth is “labour”. It suggests that giving birth is hard work, Your body will work hard and perform its physiological task. If birth is difficult or surgical there is often this (false) implication that maybe your body didn’t work hard enough or correctly. It implies that labour is unidimensional. Labour is anything but unidimensional of course! It is a delicate interplay of the physical, the psychological, the emotional the spiritual and the unknown. It is a transformational rite of passage which offers women an invitation to access something within them they may not have known about themselves. Strength, vulnerability, autonomy, passion, determination and instinct are a few things women sometimes cite.
In other languages however, this process of “labour” and birth is actually called “the separation”, the word “parto” means just that; letting go, to leave, to separate. It is from the Latin Parere I think. So birth is a process of separation, not simply a matter of hard work! Both mother and baby separate.
Weaning and beyond
When we wean from her breast, when we crawl and then walk away we separate more. And even for those babies that have not been breastfeed or who are not parented by their birth mother, this weaning or moving away happens. Even though as adults we live quite separate lives from our mothers, sometimes in different countries, if our relationship is good, and sometimes even if it isn’t there is still that pull, that unusual different energy reserved just for our mother(s). Perhaps it has something to do with the lesson in unconditional love a mother can give us? Perhaps its more complex.
When we become mothers ourselves our children’s behaviours and our responses are often benchmarked against what we experienced as children from our mothers. Some of us have good experiences and some of us not so good ones. The transformational invitation of parenting enables us to parent ourselves and address some of the hurt we may feel from our own childhoods. We don’t have to do that, but the invitation is certainly there.
Finally letting go
But then the day comes, or maybe the year comes, when we realise that our time with our own mother is limited, and everything comes at once. All emotions arrive. Tiredness, uncertainty, loneliness, mortality, the unknown. Its as if we become that child again seeking the warmth and the familiar heartbeat, and we feel the terror and the panic of not finding it any more. There is no pushing away the inevitable, no stopping it however much we want to.
In that sense it is a bit like labour; we often want the intensity to stop, to to calm down, to give us a rest, but the energy of birth rolls on like a series of waves and we deal with each surge as it comes. We somehow find our own personal deep coping mechanisms and our trust. When labour is over we put our coping tools safely away to use for the next labour maybe, and even when there are no more labours, what we learnt as birthing women never leaves us. These innate lessons of birthing are available to us in every one of life’s intense transformations; they are the gifts of the birthing woman that we give to ourselves!
Birthing and dying; arriving and leaving
And so in our meeting there were comments on how similar birth is to dying. Both ask us to let go and release. Its hard to mother young children and to have time to process what we feel about letting go of our own mothers as so many emotions arise at the same time, but if we look closely we will see that the emotions and the vulnerability they expose merely offer an invitation to experience the intensity of living and loving.
Sometimes this process is hard, confusing unfamiliar and unknown, again similar words that can be used to describe birth. What is important is to find yourself time, give yourself support, surround yourself with other women who are familiar with the territory, accept all offers of help with young children,seek professional support if you need it, talk to your midwife if you are pregnant and tell her how you feel, eat well, get plenty of rest, find your reflective space where you can connect with your emotions and as ever, BREATHE.