We strongly recommend that a birth partner or birth assistant reads this leaflet prior to labour and takes responsibility for prescribing, so that the mother-to-be can concentrate on her labour. When reading the following information please bear in mind that labour is a natural process and forgive the necessary focus on the dysfunctional! Our aim is to suggest a range of remedies that will cover eventualities.
For best results it is essential that you consider the whole picture, in other words the mental and emotional as well as the physical symptoms. Observe as much as possible. In this way you can keep questioning brief and disturb the rhythm of the labour less.
Certain remedies marked * are often needed frequently and can be crushed in water and sipped as required.
If the remedy works, repeat it only if the same symptoms return. If the symptoms change significantly try to find the remedy that best matches the new picture. If you have tried the same remedy six times and had no response it is the wrong remedy, think again.
Remember that attending a birth can be physically and mentally exhausting, you may need to take remedies too! Where remedies are indicated for the newborn, these can be taken by the mother if she is breast feeding and will pass to the baby. If the baby is not being breast-fed or needs the remedy urgently, hold the pill inside the baby’s lower lip until it takes effect, then remove. After the birth a number of different remedies may be needed.
In non-emergencies, for best results, alternate them, leaving a 15 minute gap.All remedies recommended are in 200 potency, which is particularly appropriate for labour, where symptoms are often intense. For everyday first aid treatments a lower, 30, potency is advisable.
Before the birth: Practice: breathing: relaxation; visualisation:
talking to the baby: birth positions: stretching: pelvic floor exercises. Attend a yoga class which puts emphasis on birth or buy. The Active Birth Book by Janet Balaskas. Attend ante-natal classes together with your birth assistant. In late pregnancy (but not before the sixth month) try drinking raspberry leaf tea, which reputedly tones up the uterine muscles.
Two / three weeks before your due date: Ask yourself each evening “Would I be well-prepared for labour if it came tonight?” Here is a check-lint: Are you well-rested? Many women experience a surge of energy shortly before labour, but getting too carried away with nesting can tire you out. Have you eaten light, nutritious easily-digestible food, preferably early in the evening? If you are having a home birth have you prepared the room and got everything you need. Burning lavender oil or putting it in your bath is very soothing during pre-labour and labour. Pick Out some favourite pieces of music. If you are going to hospital is your bag packed? Is your driver familiar with the quickest route?
Signs include diarrhoea: extra energy: backache: a “show” (streaked mucus from vagina): breaking or leaking of waters. Particularly in first labours, which tend to be slower, use this time to sleep or rest as much as possible. Encourage your birth assistant to do the same. If you can’t sleep, rest ins semi-upright position encouraging the baby to move down. Follow your own instincts: eat light nourishing snacks if you are hungry: go for a walk: have a bath (or shower if waters have broken); have a hot drink: relax and BREATHE. BREATHE, BREATHE. Many women say, after birth, that focusing on their own breath was the mont effective pain relief of all. Put twenty drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in a glass of water and sip whenever you feel the need – attendants too.
Characterised by low adrenalin. A time of waiting whilst the body does the work of opening up. Offer minimum resistance. Don’t make predictions about how dilated you are or how long it will take. Shut Out your rational mind, Breathe in as the contraction comes and out during. Ask your birth assistant to remind you if they notice you are forgetting to breathe or holding your breath becaise of the pain, It may help if they breathe with you. Use a clock with a second hand to time the average length of particularly painful contractions:just knowing how long they will last helps you to pace yourself and to remember that they won’t last forever! Stay upright whenever possible. Keep moving. Minimum distractions and interruptions. Maximum comfort, support, encouragement and reassurance. Sip watered down fruit juice between contractions to keep energy and blood sugar levels up. Remember Rescue Remedy.
Point where your cervix is fully dilated and nature of contractions begin to change to those which will push baby out. Potentially the most difficult time because of these conflicting messages. Many feel the need for pain relief at this time. Attendants should reassure: suggest a visit to the toilet (for a change of scene):
help with breathing: encourage mother to visualise baby and talk to it. Remember Rescue Remedy.
Characterised by high adrenalin as mother takes a more active role. The pushing will just happen. If for any reason labour seems too fast, get down on all fours with bottom high as possible, head low: panting also helps slow things down. If contractions have many peaks divide your outbreath: as if blowing out separate candles.
Particularly in hospital. Syntometrine is routinely injected into the mother to speed up the delivery of the placenta and Vitamin K is given to the baby. If you decide against either or both it is easiest to put it into a written birth plan. It is not unusual for contractions to stop for a while before pushing the placenta out naturally.
Before the birth become as well-informed as possible about the pros and cons. For your own peace of mind, if for any reason intervention is suggested, rather than requested by you, ask for:
– a clear explanation of the problem- information about any possible alternatives
– a time limit on your decision that will not endanger either the baby or you.