herbs to ease labor, birth, and recovery

Herbs can be very useful during labor and after birth to ease pain, calm emotions, and help speed recovery.  The herbs described below have been use for years by midwives and birthing women.*

  • Blue cohosh and black cohosh are two herbs that work synergistically to bring on labor, but do not use them prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Raspberry leaf (tea or tincture) is one of the best uterine tonic herbs to prepare uterine muscles for an efficient labor. Its astringent action slows bleeding and helps to expel the placenta. Have the tea on hand or make raspberry tea ice cubes to suck on during labor.  It can also be taken in pregnancy to prepare uterine muscles for pregnancy.

Many herbs can help ease the pain of contractions:

  • Crampbark tincture can be used for uterine cramping during labor, and after birth to eliminate after birth cramping pains.
  • Scullcap and catnip relieve pain, as well as calm and relax the body.
  • Chamomile helps control pain during labor by relieving tension.

Other herbs help with emotional balance during labor:

  • Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower remedy, is excellent for bringing one quickly into focus when under stress or shock during a difficult labor. It can also be put on the baby’s forehead or wrist after a stressful birth.
  • A massage oil, enhanced with herbs, will relax the muscles and ease back labor pain. Use relaxing, aromatic herbs such as chamomilerose, and lavender. Rubbed on the perineum, it helps prevent tearing as the baby crowns and ease swelling and burning.

<<To read more herbal options for pain relief during labor, click this link.>>

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9 Natural Pain Management Techniques for Labor

Deal with birthing pains naturally! This post has 9 natural pain management techniques for labor, including a birthing ball, essential oils, and more.

With my first pregnancy, I had desired a natural labor and delivery. But I didn’t prepare for natural pain management. In fact, I only read one book my entire pregnancy–Easy Labor. It was the only book on labor I could find at my local library, and it primarily addressed medicated pain relief.

After a long, medication-laced labor with my first, I was determined to find some natural relief for labor pain my second time around. With the help of my doula, some naturally-minded friends, and quite a few books and a couple of videosI was able to incorporate these natural pain management techniques and achieve the natural birth I desired.

Not everything works for everyone, but here are 9 natural pain management techniques for labor you can try:

1. The Birthing Ball

This is basically the same as an exercise ball. My doula suggested I practice bouncing on one regularly while pregnant, and I found it a huge relief during labor. I sat on the birthing ball and rocked back and forth, and I also leaned over the birthing ball while kneeling.

2. Changing Positions

With my first labor, I was flat on my back in a hospital bed for 16 hours. With my second, I changed positions frequently. Both of my older babies were sunny-side up (posterior), which lends itself to a LOT of intense back labor. I found that rocking on all fours really helped take the pressure off my back.There were times during my second labor when my nurse asked me to come to the bed for monitoring. Even in the bed, I was able to rock back and forth from side to side, which my midwife said helped the baby move down the birth canal.

3. Water!

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to experience a water birth. Even though I was able to move around freely with my second, the hospital where I birthed had no tubs in the room at the time (they do now!). But, I was able to use the shower. My favorite part of labor was sitting on the birthing ball in the shower. I rocked back and forth on the ball, draped my torso across a chair, and let my husband and doula spray hot, hot water over me. The water was the most comforting pain relief technique for me!

<<To read the remaining techniques, click this link.>>

Delayed Cord Cutting

Delayed cord cutting has great benefits for the baby and assists in their transition to breathing on their own.

“In the interim between birth and the natural occlusion of the blood flow in the cord, the infant’s brain and body are nourished with oxygen-rich blood from two sources, ensuring a healthy transition to neonatal life. If the cord is cut immediately following birth, blood within the cord and placenta, which the baby would normally use to establish lung circulation, remains trapped in the placenta. The infant will then divert blood from the other organs to fill the vessels in the lungs.”

 http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/PrematureLigation.asp

Birth Presentation

Each pregnancy is unique and each baby can present themselves in a number of different positions at the time of labor/birth. Learn ways to help baby turn and what to expect during labor if baby is in a less conventional pose. Breech is a variation of normal, but there are certainly things to prepare for. Research to know when it’s safe to deliver and when you should seek medical assistance. As always, be informed and trust your gut.

Spinning Babies
https://spinningbabies.com/

Charcoal for Infant Jaundice

Image result for activated charcoal babies

So thankful that a friend shared this info with me. I found this truly fascinating and wanted to share!

To read this article in full and to see other uses for charcoal, go to: Charcoal for Babies

“Just like adults babies get sick too. It seems unfair that these fragile vulnerable infants have to face a world full of so many enemy agents so soon in life. For babies born in hospitals and babies born at home there are a host of unseen but very lethal organisms lurking about ready to infect their little bodies. Whether it be a hospital borne infection or something a breast feeding mother ate at her last meal, babies are not equipped to deal well with their new environment. Whether it beGastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), neonatal jaundice, infant diarrhea, colic, or accidental poisoning, in many cases Activated Charcoal has been found to be an effective simple and natural remedy.

Infant Jaundice

Even from birth many babies fall victim to neonatal jaundice. Whether jaundice be because of an inherited factor such as in Erythroblastosis fetalis, or because of a sluggish immature liver, many babies turn yellow soon after birth instead of a glowing pink.  Activated charcoal is a simple natural remedy for a jaudiced baby.

“When Nathan, our firstborn, came along, he was somewhat jaundiced. The yellow-orangish appearance of his skin and eyes was due to the build up of bilirubin, a bile pigment that was not being properly metabolized. For various reasons, the liver sometimes does not kick into gear at birth, as it should have with Nathan. Out he went into the sun for a daily sunbath. Charcoal has also been credited with lowering bilirubin levels. But, since babies are only designed to swallow at birth and not chew, we mixed some activated charcoal powder in a bottle of water and let the particles settle out. We then poured this slurry water off into a baby bottle and popped that into his mouth. After a couple of days, and several ounces of slurry water later, he was a healthy ruddy pink.

“As he grew, Nathan would now and again show signs of being a little colicky. We could only smile as he would accept a charcoal tablet, and then thoroughly enjoy playing with it in his mouth. By the next morning he would be over whatever had caused him discomfort. Later, when his brother Enoch came along, charcoal tablets were his first experience with “candy”. If only other young parents knew how powerful charcoal can be as a first aid.”CharcoalRemedies.com page 27

For jaundiced babies, add one tablespoon of activated charcoal powder into four ounces of water. This makes a good slurry that is able to pass through the nipple of a baby bottle. Shake well before giving. Or, you can let the charcoal settle out, pour off the gray water and give that. 

Dr. Agatha Thrash M.D. tells the following case of neonatal jaundice in a four-day old breast-fed baby:

“The father took the baby to our laboratory to be tested for its total bilirubin levels. The levels continued to climb over the next twenty-four hours and a consulting physician agreed with our suspicion of an ABO blood incompatibility. When the bilirubin rose to 18 mg% the consultant prepared to give an exchange transfusion of blood.

The same hour the mother began administering as much charcoal as she could get the baby to accept. With the baby undressed in her lap, she sat in the sunlight giving over an hour of exposure to both front and back (babies can tolerate more sunlight before getting a sunburn than can adults).

At the next six-hour bilirubin check, the level was down to 16.5%, and we knew we had avoided the hazardous exchange transfusion. Continuing with this treatment the bilirubin began to clear and was down to 4 mg% by the tenth day.”

In one astounding study the need for exchange transfusions in babies with erythroblastosis fetalis was cut by more than 90% with the use of charcoal. Erythroblastosis fetalis is a severe anemia that develops in an unborn infant because the mother produces antibodies that attack the fetus’ red blood cells. The antibodies are usually caused by Rh incompatibility between the mother’s blood type and that of the fetus (that is, the mother and baby have different blood types).

These babies can be at extreme risk after birth and, depending on the severity, a blood transfusion may be performed. In one study done at Fort Benning, Georgia, activated charcoal, suspended in water, was given every two hours. The treatment was continued for 120 hours in normal newborns and 168 hours in premature infants, or until bilirubin levels fell. Charcoal should be begun at four hours of age to produce the maximum reduction in elevated bilirubin levels.”CharcoalRemedies.com page 158 “

Labor Hormones in Under 10 Minutes

“Note: this page is about how to TEACH this concept to expectant parents. If you’re an expectant parent looking for info on labor hormones, their effect on labor pain, and what your partner can do to help you have a shorter and less painful labor, click here.

In my childbirth classes, and with doula clients, I want them to understand that our emotions, and the support we receive, absolutely affect labor on a physiological basis, by influencing our hormones. The big message is that fear and anxiety slow labor down and make it more painful. Support and feeling safe make labor faster and easier. I have simplified the complex details into a simple stick figure drawing that takes 5-10 minutes.

Before I talk about my teaching method, let’s start with a basic summary* of hormones:

Hormone What Does It Do What doesn’t help What does help
Oxytocin Causes labor contractions that dilate cervix Anxiety, bright lights, feeling observed, feeling judgedPitocin – if have synthetic oxytocin, make less hormonal oxytocin To increase oxytocin: Skin-to-skin contact.
Nipple stimulation, making love.To increase endorphins: social contact and support from loved ones.To increase oxytocin and endorphins and to reduce adrenaline: create an environment where we feel private, safe, not judged, loved, respected, protected, free to move about.(So, partners, if you remember nothing else about labor support, remember that if she feels safe, loved and protected her labor will be faster, and less painful)
Endorphins Relieve pain, reduce stress (cause euphoria and feelings of dependency) Stress, lack of supportNarcotics (if you have an external opiate, your body will start producing less internal opiate… even after the narcotics wear off, you’ll have less endorphins)
Catecholamines (adrenaline, etc.) In early / active labor: slow labor down(Imagine a rabbit in a field. If it doesn’t feel safe, it wants to keep baby inside to protect it)In pushing stage: Make you and baby alert and ready for birth, give you energy to push quickly.
(If the rabbit is about to have a baby, and something frightens it, it wants to get the baby out as quickly as possible so it can pick it up and run with it.)
Stress / anxiety / fearLack of control

Feeling trapped

Hunger, cold

 

So, in class how do I convey these ideas in just a few minutes, so it’s easy to understand and to remember?

First, I say: “In labor, our emotions and our environment effect our hormones. Our hormones have a huge effect on labor. Let’s look at a couple scenarios for labor.” [I draw two stick figures on the board.] “This one is awash in stress hormones which will make labor longer and more painful. Let’s label it adrenaline. This one is under the influence of oxytocin and endorphins. These help the laboring person shift into an altered state where labor pain is milder (less intense and less unpleasant) and also help labor progress more quickly.” [Add labels to drawings, add sad face and smiley face.]

Picture2

Then I say “So, you are all probably familiar with adrenaline. What do we call it? Yes, the fight or flight hormone. This is the idea that if an individual ran into a tiger in the woods, they would choose either to fight it or to run away. Do you know what we call oxytocin? Many call it “collect and protect” or “tend and befriend.” If a tiger is coming into our village, we gather everyone together, because we are safest together.” [I add these labels to my drawing.]  (I sometimes throw in the tidbit here that men who are not dads are more likely to release adrenaline during stressful situations; women and dads are more likely to release oxytocin – it’s the “gather the babies and protect them” response.)

Picture3

“So, what effect do these hormones have?”

“With adrenaline, all your muscles tighten. All your energy goes to your limbs in case you need to fight or run away. So, oxytocin production drops and labor slows down. (It’s hard for your cervix to open when you feel scared…)  You are also more sensitive to pain – this is useful if you’re at risk of injury – your body tells you what to move away from. But, in labor it’s not helpful – it just means labor hurts more!”

“With oxytocin and endorphins all your muscles relax. Energy is sent to the uterus and oxytocin increases. (Oxytocin is often called the love hormone, because it increases when we feel loved, and its peak levels are when we orgasm, when we birth, and when we breastfeed. It’s all about making babies, birthing babies, and feeding babies.) We also get an increased endorphin flow, which makes us less sensitive to pain, can cause euphoria, and can cause feelings of love and dependency in us… “I love you man….””

<<To read the rest of this article, click here>>