Birth is the woman’s second blood rite of passage, the first being Menarche, our first menstrual cycle, transition from a girl to woman. Birth is the transition from lover to mother, and bringing conscious awareness to this powerful life transforming time means our bodies release a resistance and will open to the job of labour, of birthing forth-new life. A blessing way or birthing way is a traditional ceremony prepared by a woman’s friends or a community priestess to bring awareness to this process.
The choices around birth are numerous, so being well informed and aware of the pros and cons is important. Many women can feel pressured to birth in hospital due to the fear of complications. Of course, some circumstances need the skilled hospital teams. However, women have been birthing since the beginning of time and our bodies know what to do. Many interventions, which are deemed as necessary, lead on to the birthing woman becoming less empowered and the birth further away from natural.
Both Elvian and Jacinta chose home births for all their children, and both had powerful, conscious, life transforming experiences. It became an innate remembering of women’s body wisdom that led on to natural mothering. The choices available for birth are shrinking rapidly as insurance companies cut out midwives, both lay and hospital trained. Now no midwife is covered by insurance to assist at a home birth, and even obstetricians are losing their insurance. So less and less are choosing this path.
As we are supported in birth by our family and midwife, we tap into the powers of surrender, trust and selflessness that enable us to mother wisely. Natural medicine offers the birthing woman gentle, yet powerful support with the challenges along the way, without the side effects which often accompany conventional medical treatment. As the pregnant woman moves into the last trimester and the birth becomes imminent, herbs that prepare the uterus are appropriate. Some examples are: Raspberry Leaf and Squawvine. If overdue, there are herbs to assist also.
A birthing kit is a wonderful support to have for the labour and Elvian and Jacinta can help make a personalised kit for you. Obvious remedies included could be Arnica, Rescue Remedy and Pulsatilla as well as herbs.
Q: I want to have a natural birth but am worried about handling the pain. Are there any natural medicines for pain relief in childbirth?
A: Yes, there are many aids for the pain of childbirth. One of the most effective, from my own experience, is breathing and having eye contact with your partner, midwife or support person. Allow your birth team to energetically, as well as physically support you. An old American Indian technique is to hold a piece of wood in your palm and squeeze it hard. I held my man’s hand and squeezed that for hours, during one of my births, and it helped a lot. It also kept him present with me and he felt he was contributing.
Keeping the mouth as relaxed as possible helps the cervix to relax and open more easily too.
There are herbs to assist with most aspects of labour – if the pain is more intense, because of ‘stalled’ labour then Black and Blue Cohosh and/or Beth Root will help. Also the acupressure point – Bladder 67. If labour is already well established then Mag. Phos. Cell salts are great to soften the intensity of the contractions. Homeopathics like Arnica, and Pulsatilla can help too.
Water is great – baths, showers, footbaths, or hot applications to the back, can all make a huge difference. Using water in some way cleanses energy – so if you are holding onto something emotionally, it will help wash it away.
There are other herbs I have in my birthing kit – like Motherwort, Skullcap, and St John’s Wort, which all reduce pain when used appropriately. Overall, for me, remembering that I was getting a baby at the end of this – as well as feeling the energy of woman birthing throughout the ages, and drawing on their energy helped heaps!
I have heard women say the labours were not painful, but the 100 or so births I’ve attended have all been, so it’s a good idea to prepare for pain anyway.
Practising Yoga throughout pregnancy and playing with the edges of pain during stretches, and practising breathing through and opening into pain is great preparation.
Q: With my last baby, even though I breast fed, I still got bad Mastitis. Is there anything I can do now (I’m seven months pregnant) to help prevent getting it this time?
A: There are a few things that will help prevent reoccurrence. The first is making sure you are well hydrated, i.e. drinking lots of “good” liquids like water and herb teas. Ayurvedically, room temperature (not chilled) water is preferable. Once bub is born keep drinking heaps. You drinking too at every feed is a way of doing this.
Massaging your breasts gently from now on will also help. Use a pure oil (do your stomach at the same time and help keep stretch marks away). Taking Echinacea is a good preventative; take at higher doses if there is any hardness or you just feel twinges in your breasts.
The Ayurvedic wonder-herb Shatavari, which is a nervine as well as an overall tonic and rejuvenate, especially for women, is recommended as well. Start taking after childbirth as a Mastitis preventative.
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