labour and childbirth

For most women, homeopathic medicine can help enormously in the run-up to the birth of a baby and in avoiding or reducing some of the problems associated with labour, as well as in dealing with post-natal symptoms. This is the follow-up to the article ‘Common problems in pregnancy’, that was published in our Spring issue

False labour
Labour-like contractions may occur in the last few weeks of pregnancy and are felt irregularly, usually in the lower part of the abdomen. These are said to occur because the uterus (womb) is ‘toning-up’ in preparation for the birth. If the contractions become very frequent or regular, or if there is a ‘show’ of blood, the doctor or midwife should be called.

Symptoms: Contractions that occur early in the pregnancy. Pain shoots across the abdomen, causing doubling up.
Medicine: Cimicifuga

Symptoms: Contractions that occur in the last few weeks of pregnancy
Medicine: Caulophyllum

Symptoms: Pain goes up the back and into the hips
Medicine: Gelsemium

Symptoms: Colicky, cramp-like pains
Medicine: Viburnum opulus 

Dosage:  Use the 12c potency.Take every hour until the pains cease. 

Preparing for delivery
Taking Caulophyllum in the last weeks of the preg­nancy and Arnica before delivery will minimise much of the bruising and bleeding. Caulophyllum is also said to ‘tone up’ the uterus, helping to produce good contractions and lessening the chances of becoming over tired during labour.

Symptoms: Reduces the bruising and bleeding of normal labour
Medicine: Arnica montana
Dosage: Arnica should be taken in the highest potency you can obtain — the 10m potency powder form if possible. If not, use the 30c potency in powder form. If you cannot obtain a powder, simply crush one tablet for one dose. Take one dose at the start of labour and one during labour just before delivery. It is useful to take a 30c dose three times a day for three days after the birth of the baby.

Symptoms: Used routinely to help uterine contractions and to bring about a smooth delivery
Medicine: Caulophyllum
Dosage: Caulophyllum should be taken in the 30c potency — three doses on the same day each week from the 34th week onwards. There is no clinical evidence that this homeopathic medicine causes women to go into labour too early. This is specifically mentioned because Caulophyllum in normal — that is, non-homeopathic doses — may cause early labour. Used homeopathically, it is given to prevent premature labour and to help normal labour.

Symptoms: May help if there was heavy bleeding in a previous pregnancy
Medicine: Millefolium
Dosage: Millefolium should be taken in the 30c potency. Take three doses on one day in the last week of the pregnancy.

In early labour
A normal pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. For a few weeks before the birth occasional painless ‘contrac­tions’ may be felt in the lower abdomen (see False Labour above). When labour proper begins, the con­tractions become noticeable but may be infrequent and irregular. As labour proceeds, they become more frequent and occur at regular intervals. They may also produce some discomfort. At first they are often felt in the back. The start of labour may be indicated by a small blood loss called a ‘show’.

At some stage the membranes in which the baby is contained will rupture, producing a loss of a watery fluid from the vagina. This is perfectly normal. The actual duration of labour varies tremendously, but is lengthier with a first pregnancy, so there is usually plenty of time in which to get to hospital or for the midwife to arrive if delivery is to be at home.

Symptoms: When the labour pains are frequent but irregular. A good remedy if restless, anxious and frightened and convinced of dying during labour
Medicine: Aconitum

Symptoms: Painful labour, with the pain starting in lower back and radiating to inner part of the thighs.The woman may be over-excited and angry, and resent being examined. Intolerance of pain
Medicine: Chamomilla

Symptoms: Spasmodic irregular pains in the small of the back. Feelings of exhaustion and being out of control
Medicine: Cocculus

Symptoms: Contractions are very painful but ineffective. The woman is restless and agitated.
Medicine: Coffea cruda

Symptoms: Intermittent, relatively painless contractions with little progress. Excessive tiredness
Medicine: Gossypium

Symptoms: Early labour pains in back
Medicine: Kali carbonicum 

Dosage: Use the 12c potency. Take every 30 minutes until relief is maintained. 

Immediately after delivery
The mother’s main problems after the birth will be related to bruising in the birth passage and surround­ing organs, such as the bladder and urethra.

With a prolonged labour, especially one that has caused much sleep deprivation, fatigue can also be a problem, but this is easily remedied by a good night’s sleep. The main problems after a birth by Caesarean section tend to be those that can occur after any surgical procedure.

Most of these complications are unlikely, however, if the woman has been treated with Arnica and Caulophyllum, as described above. See also the section on After-pains below.

Symptoms: Difficulty passing urine. Restless, sleepless and frightened
Medicine: Aconitum

Symptoms: Constipation. Rectum feels sore and anus itches. Even a soft stool is passed with difficulty
Medicine: Alumina

Symptoms: Problems passing urine
Medicine: Arsenicum album

Symptoms: Irritation of the vulva. Cramp-like pains occur in the uterus (womb), mainly at night
Medicine: Caladium seguinum

Symptoms: Retention of urine, especially after a long labour
Medicine: Causticum

Symptoms: Nervousness and restlessness
Medicine: Chamomilla

Symptoms: Excited, oversensitive and suffers from insomnia. Abdominal pains
Medicine: Coffea cruda

Symptoms: Painful piles
Medicine: Collinsonia

Symptoms: Flatulence and abdominal colic
Medicine: Nux moschata

Symptoms: Back pain
Medicine: Phosporic acid. Itching between the breasts. Apathy
 
Symptoms: Piles and anal prolapse occur
Medicine: Podophyllum

Symptoms: Total exhaustion and overheating
Medicine: Secale cornutum

Symptoms: To aid healing if there has been catheterization or an episiotomy
Medicine: Staphysagria

Dosage:  Use the 12c potency. Take three times a day for five days. 

After pains
These pains are similar to labour pains and may occur after childbirth. They are a result of the uterus (womb) contracting as it reduces to its size before the pregnancy.

The pains are more likely to occur to breastfeed­ing mothers as breastfeeding causes the pituitary gland to release the hormone oxytocin, which helps with milk production, and may also stimulate some uterine contractions.

Symptoms: Used routinely after all labours, especially if labour has been protracted
Medicine: Arnica montana

Symptoms: After pains with a headache, flushed face, nervousness, restlessness
Medicine: Belladonna

Symptoms: Soreness felt all through the pelvis, making walking and standing painful.
Medicine: Bellis perennis

Symptoms: Severe, cramp-like pains
Medicine: Camphora

Symptoms: Spasmodic pains occur which move across the lower abdomen, especially after a prolonged and exhausting labour. Quite specifically for after-pains.
Medicine:  Caulophyllum

Symptoms: Severe pain causing great irritability
Medicine: Chamomilla

Symptoms: Intense pains like electric shocks in the groin. Agitated and intolerant of pain
Medicine: Cimicifuga

Symptoms: Pains which feel as if they are in the intestines rather than the uterus
Medicine: Cocculus

Symptoms: Extreme pain causing sleeplessness
Medicine:  Coffea cruda

Symptoms:
Distressing after-pains after pregnancy that is not the first
Medicine: Cuprum metallicum

Symptoms:
Anxious, apprehensive, sleepless
Medicine:  Gelsemium

Symptoms:
Severe after-pains shoot down the thighs and are worse on the right. Pain appears to be in the rectum or the bladder
Medicine: Lac caninum

Symptoms:
Large blood clots may be passed. Much flatulence
Medicine: Nux vomica

Symptoms:
Pain shoots forwards from behind
Medicine: Sabina

Symptoms: Pain radiates upwards. A sensation of a weight in the lower bowel. Pelvic organs feel as though they are about to drop out
Medicine: Sepia

Symptoms: Use this if there are not other symptoms and no other homeopathic remedy seems to fit
Medicine: Xanthoxylum 

Dosage: Use the 30c potency. Take four times a day for two days after delivery. 

This article is taken from Homeopathy for Women by Dr Barry Rose and Dr Christina Scott-Moncrieff, published by Collins & Brown.