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Natural Remedies Used During Pregnancy and Birth
by Stacelynn Caughlan

Evening Primrose, Borage, or Black Current Oil

Action: Prostaglandin Metabolism
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Contains Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid which is excellent nourishment for both maternal and fetal health.
  • Stimulates effacement and thus may facilitate an easier labour. A fully effaced cervix allows for better fetal positioning which may stimulate more rapid dilation and quicker delivery.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Actions:
Emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, alterative, nervine, hypotensive
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Prepares/tones the uterine muscle for an easier delivery.
  • May initiate labour.
  • Can dissipate unproductive contractions (false labour) allowing the mother to rest. Can also encourage active labour contractions to be more regular and productive.
  • Has spasmolytic and anti-inflammatory effects specifically on the uterus. It is also a vascular and neuralgic anti-spasmodic which may lead to a reduction in pain and reduced maternal anxiety.
  • May reduce cervical rigidity.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Actions: Uterine tonic, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, anti-rheumatic, diuretic
* use only under the advise of a caregiver!
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Prepares/tones the uterine muscle
  • May initiate labour
  • Used to dissipate unproductive contractions
  • It is anti-spasmolytic and may reduce the severity of labour pains.
  • Coordinates muscle contractions of the uterus which makes it useful when contractions are irregular and varying in productivity. The chemical constituent caulosaponin had been identified to stimulate uterine contractions and promote blood flow to the pelvic region.
  • Relieves ‘after-pains’ of a spasmodic nature, and reduces uterine inflammation.

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)

Actions: Parturient, emmenagogue, diuretic, astringent, tonic
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Prepares and tones the uterus for childbirth. Taken throughout the pregnancy.
  • Increases uterine circulation and reduces spasms of the uterus.
  • Used to prevent miscarriage in early pregnancy

Blue Vervain (Verbena off.)

Actions: Nervine tonic, anti-spasmodic, galactagogue, analgesic
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Nervine specific to uterine conditions. May help reduce the pain of labour.
  • Helps reduce nervous fatigue and anxiety. Safe to use throughout pregnancy.
  • Helps stimulate milk production

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Actions: Emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, nervine, sedative
Indications in the Childbearing Year:

  • Promotes productive uterine contractions by way of the constituents leonurine and stachydrine.
  • Reduces ‘false’ or unproductive contractions.
  • Reduces hypertension.

Calcium and Magnesium

Indications in the Childbearing Year

  • May prevent the development of pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia if taken throughout the pregnancy. (NEJM 1991, vol. 325; Am J Clinical Nutrition 1992, vol. 55)
  • Magnesium deficiency has been linked to preterm delivery and fetal growth retardation. (Science 1983, vol. 221; Br J Obstret Gynaecol 1988, vol. 95)
  • May help coordinate productive uterine contractions and minimize cramping. Used to reduce the sensations of pain. Cal/mag is directly responsible for activating the mechanisms in striated and smooth muscle contractions. Magnesium functions prominently in muscle relaxation and neuromuscular transmission and activity.
  • Maintains a steady and progressive labour. Cal/mag are co-factors in the production of ATP, an important source of energy for muscle contraction.

Homeopathic Remedies

Actions: Homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted, yet potent, medicines. Constituents are undetectable by science, indispensable in practice. Side-effects are extremely rare, never dangerous, and usually indicative of the healing process. Homeopaths believe that if the body manifests a symptom, such as a rash, the remedy may need to be adjusted, but the body is responding appropriately. A sampling follows:

  • Pulsatilla: useful for ‘weepy’ mothers, feels she can’t go on, wants to give up, feels ‘sorry for herself’. Also used for slow, long labours.
  • Traumeel: a composite remedy ideal for pain, shock, discomfort, etc. Often used for injuries and accidents which makes it useful for immediately after delivery.
  • Calms Forte: a composite remedy that is useful for treating ‘hysteria’ and sleeplessness. Useful when the mother needs to rest and relax such as in early labour and between transition and second stage. Will not sedate or make the mother groggy.

Bach Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy

Actions: Similar to Homeopathics in principle. No risk of side-effects. Rescue Remedy is a composite remedy comprised of Rock Rose, Clematis, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Star of Bethlehem, that is used for shock, anxiety, fear, trauma, anger, etc.

Indications in the Childbearing Year

  • Safe for use at any time during pregnancy and childbirth. No side effects. Often used when a women feels ‘out of control’ emotionally. This remedy does not address physical problems, only emotional. 4 drops under the tongue as needed.
  • Safe for the infant after a traumatic delivery. One drop between the lips or placed on the breast feeding mother’s nipple prior to nursing.
  • Used during postpartum, particularly for a first-time mother who may be prone to feeling overwhelmed by a newborn.
  • Very useful for anxious partners who are not handling the birth as well as they expected!!

Stacelynn Caughlan is a Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Herbalist who specializes in Prenatal and Pediatric Health.

Disclaimer: The information provided on MotherandChildHealth.com is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

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