As a Midwife, of many years I have been blessed to participate and journey alongside women and witness the miracle of childbirth. Women innately know their bodies and know instinctively how to give birth. With the right support and environment a woman can tap into her power – the power to surrender, trust and let go in the transition into motherhood.
I first observed and started to use homeopathic remedies when I joined a team of midwives working in one of the first ‘low risk’ birthing units in West London in 2000. I was amazed to see how homeopathy helped support women through the phases of childbirth, especially profound when a woman was facing the most challenging and intense moments on both physical and mental/emotional levels before giving birth.
I used homeopathy prior to and during the birth of my daughter. After my waters broke homeopathy helped strengthen and regulate my contractions and during transition, just before she was born and when fear overwhelmed me homeopathy provided a most miraculous gift. It took me to a safe place that instantly calmed and gave me the strength to release my fears and birth my daughter with courage and love.
When I arrived in New Zealand in 2001 I dreamed of becoming a homeopath and integrating its science and art with my passion for supporting and enhancing a woman’s childbirth experience. In 2008 I qualified as a homeopath after 4 years of training at ‘The Bay of Plenty School of Homeopathy.’
I currently work in Dunedin as an LMC midwife and homeopath. Homeopathy runs alongside my practice and offers a nourishing healing alternative to supporting my clients during pregnancy, childbirth and after the birth of their babies.
What is homeopathy?
The word homeopathy comes from the Greek and means ‘similar suffering.’ It was developed by a German Physician and Chemist, called Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) over 200 years ago.
The homeopathic concept of ‘like cures like’ dates back 2,500 years to the writings of Hippocrates. What this means is that medicines are made, in miniscule amounts, of the same substance that would cause the symptoms.
For example: In homeopathy a medicine derived from the hot chilli pepper can be used to alleviate nasty burning sensations, such as heartburn, which is common during pregnancy.
Remedies are derived mainly from plants and minerals. They are inexpensive and usually come in different potencies and take the form of sugar or lactose pillules.
Is homeopathy safe to use during childbirth?
Homeopathy is perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, childbirth, the post natal period and for breastfeeding mums and their babies. It is one of many natural therapies that can enhance your body’s own healing ability, bringing balance and well-being and in most cases the elimination of symptoms and overall improvement in health.
Homeopathy is very safe because it uses immeasurably small amounts of active ingredients that help stimulate your body’s own ability to heal itself. The medicines are derived mainly from plants and minerals. The active ingredient is diluted many times and shaken vigorously to produce the medicine.
Unlike conventional drugs homeopathic medicines are non-addictive and have no dangerous side effects. Homeopathy doesn’t interfere with conventional medicine and is ideal to use at times when you might not want to use conventional drugs.
The concept of homeopathy is understanding and treating the whole person. It offers you a truly individual approach to healing and recognises both physical and mental/emotional are interdependent. Each remedy is individually chosen and a single remedy is picked to match your particular symptoms. What this means is that two people with the same symptoms can be prescribed completely different remedies because the treatment is based on you as an individual and not just your symptoms.
Ten Commonly used Remedies for Childbirth and the Postnatal period
Here is a brief introduction of ten of the most well-used homeopathic remedies.
Fear and fright = Aconite.
Extreme fear experienced during pregnancy. Contractions feel violent and intense, producing a state of fear and anxiety. Restless, agitated and fearful that they might die. Especially helpful during transitional phase of labour. Baby appears shocked and unsettled after birth. Very comforting for nervous fathers and grandparents.
Feeling sore and bruised during labour. They may not want to be touched. Relieves soft tissue damage (perineum and abdomen) following birth. Reduces swelling and bruising and risk of infection and promotes healing. Useful to reduce caput/swelling of baby’s head after birth.
Follows well after Arnica or if Arnica does not ease discomfort. Exceptional for bruised, sore, pelvic pain or abdominal tissues during pregnancy and following birth.
Can be used at term to help strengthen and tone the uterus and prepare and soften the cervix prior to birth. Also helpful if labour pains fail to dilate the cervix and contractions become irregular, short and spasmodic. Used to co ordinate and strengthen contractions.
Similar to Caulophyllum. The difference being it helps to produce coordinated contractions while allaying fear and anxiety. Encourages a woman to trust the birth process and open up both emotionally and physically. She may feel unable to endure labour. Common words might be “I can’t do it.” Incredibly useful for women who may have a painful or traumatic memory of a past pregnancy, birth, miscarriage etc.
Excellent remedy for dysfunctional labour with failure to progress, especially if baby is lying in a posterior position. There is weakness and exhaustion and muscles tremble with the effort of movement. Contractions are felt in the back. Especially helpful when there is fear or anticipation of birth. May be useful before birth to help ease anxiety. May also be useful to ease fear and anticipation of birth in fathers and grandparents.
Shooting, nerve pains following caesarian section or perineal tears and episiotomy.
Pain of contractions felt mainly in the back (especially posterior positioned babies). The backache may extend to the buttocks. Feel as if back would break and back pain is better for hard pressure. Often feels very chilly.
For contractions felt in the back that extend to the buttocks and thighs. They feel as if they want to move their bowels or urinate, but nothing much is passed. They are irritable, impatient and easily angered and offended. Sensitive to odors, light and noise. No pressure can be tolerated on the back and pain is worse from pressure (the opposite from Kali Carb).
Encourages the quick healing of incisions or lacerated wounds. Useful following incision, penetration or stretching of muscle fibers after catheterisation and episiotomy. Relieves feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment and emotional upset that may follow a difficult labour and birth or caesarian section.
Homeopathic help for breastfeeding problems
Homeopathy will greatly help mothers with nursing and breastfeeding difficulties. These include mastitis, painful sore nipples, reduced milk supply, over abundant milk supply and emotional difficulties breastfeeding and bonding with their babies.
Excellent for cracked and ulcerated nipples.
Helps to regulate milk supply if there is not enough milk or to regulate it if there is too much. Especially useful to help ease emotional difficulties if a mother is in conflict with nursing and the sexuality of her breasts.
For sore, cracked nipples, which hurt when baby nurses. Also useful for breast infections (mastitis) where there are hard, sore, painful lumps.
If there is an over production of milk or if milk supply is erratic. The mother may feel very weepy and needs lots of company and reassurance.
If the milk production is slow to get going or if there is an over or under production. Can help establish a good milk supply.
Guidelines for using Homeopathic Remedies
- For BEST results homeopathic remedies should be taken on a clean palate.
- Do not eat or drink 10 – 15 minutes before and after food and drink (apart from water).
- Place the remedy under your tongue and leave to dissolve.
- It is important to try and avoid strong flavors such as mint, coffee or toothpaste. These can interfere with the absorption of the medicine.
- Remedies can be dissolved in pure water and given in liquid form. Crush two pillules between two teaspoons and dissolve in a glass of water. Sip when needed
- Use the remedy that best matches the symptoms at the time. Not every symptom has to be present for the remedy to help.
- During childbirth remedies can be given every 15 minutes if needed. If no improvement is seen after 3 doses then stop and change to the next best matching remedy. A 30c or 200c potency is recommended during labour and childbirth.
- When using remedies after the birth take one dose every 1 – 4 hours until discomfort is relieved. If there is no improvement by the third dose then change to the next best indicated remedy. Once there is improvement re dose only if the pain returns.
- Storage: Store remedies in a cool, dark place away from strong smells, essential oils and direct sunlight.
- IMPORTANT: Remedies to prepare the uterus for labour (Cimicifuga and Caulophyllum) should NEVER be used routinely in early pregnancy as they can potentially initiate contractions. It is advised that you discuss the use of these remedies in consultation with a trained homeopath prior to your birth.
Homeopathy is a wonderful gentle companion, not only for childbirth but also common problems of pregnancy, breastfeeding and for baby’s first year.
Louise Bell has been working as a midwife since 1987. She is passionate about women’s health and natural healing. She is also a qualified homeopath and massage practitioner and uses these in her practice. “I love the way this helps woman feel calm and supported during pregnancy and the birth process.” With 18 yrs experience Louise is comfortable caring and supporting women with medical conditions requiring hospital input. She gently provides gentle, trusting, personalized care throughout pregnancy, birth and the post natal period. Her goal as a midwife is to help women make choices that feel right for them and that keep mother and baby safe. If you would like to find out more about how homeopathy can help you during pregnancy, childbirth, the post natal period and for baby contact me on You can find Louise at Beautiful Births or on 03 478 0423 / 021 053 7010.
Louise offers an hour birth/postnatal preparation session, which includes a pack of 12 of the most commonly indicated remedies. The session includes practical advice for you and your birthing team on the use of remedies prior to labour and birth and how to use homeopathy to help effectively manage and ease complications should they arise.
Homeopathy goes Deeper – by Kathy Thomas
“If you’re having a baby, you want to give them the best possible start in life.”2 None of us would disagree with this advice from the Ministry of Health website, which goes on to provide links to pregnancy services and nutrition advice.
But what about the mother’s mental and emotional health during the pregnancy? Sure, there are websites discussing existing psychiatric disorders pregnant woman may suffer from and the associated medications. However, changes to the mother’s mental and emotional state that are brought on by events during the pregnancy, including work pressures, bereavement and relationship issues are not discussed. Nor is the effect they might have on the nature of the developing foetus.
Dr Linda Johnson, an American medical doctor and homeopath, has studied this effect in detail and says: “The close association, actually an intermingling, of the child and the mother during pregnancy has a profound impact on the state of both…the mother’s energy state affects the growing child, even to the point of imprinting her state on the child.” 1
Here’s a brief example of this. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was organising the household (including major extensions to our house which were not finished until I went into hospital to give birth), looking after my 18 month-old son and running a small desk-top publishing business from home. I remember running around like a mad woman trying to get everything done in a short period of time.
How did this affect my daughter once she was born? She was exhausted and slept for long periods initially – not that I complained! However, once she’d recovered from the exhaustion, she was a live-wire, always looking for something to do, running from toy to toy. She hated sitting around doing nothing.
Once I recognised this state as being my state during pregnancy, I gave her a homeopathic remedy to deal with this overlay. The remedy took away her intense need for action. She still liked to be busy but it was no longer a frantic, out-of-balance busy. As well, she began to develop her own personality, not one compounded with my issues.
For this reason, when homeopaths treat a young child they look closely at the mother’s state during pregnancy and any issues that may have come up for them. Of course, not all children take on their mother’s state while in the womb but it is very common.
To illustrate this in depth, a case is presented below. Names have been changed and any identifying details removed. Permission has been given to use this case.
When Danielle first came to see me she was nine years old. She had eczema. Her skin felt like sandpaper to touch and was red, itchy and stingy. There were deep cracks in her knuckles and fingers. Danielle’s lips were dry and flakey, as was the skin behind her knees and elbows. Typically she would scratch until her skin bled.
As well, she suffered from a lot of ear infections, finally getting grommets at three years old. This is a common movement in pathology. If eczema is suppressed with cortisone creams, the pathology is driven deeper into the body, leading to more severe ailments, like upper respiratory tract infections. Of course, if these are suppressed with antibiotics, children may develop worse symptoms again – asthma commonly.
Back to Danielle…
Conventional constitutional prescribing requires a homeopath to delve into the patient’s background, looking not simply for a symptom picture but also for a pattern of behaviour that the patient exhibits in their daily life, particularly how they repeatedly deal with problems or approach difficulties. This pattern (a combination of physical, mental, general and emotional symptoms) is matched to a similar pattern of behaviour ascribed to a homeopathic remedy. This form of individualisation gives homeopathy its uniqueness and is one of the reasons for its success as a treatment.
So, I asked Danielle some questions to try and find out what her pattern of behaviour was. It was like drawing blood out of a stone. Danielle appeared to be very shy. She took ages to answer my questions and, immediately upon being asked a question, she would look to her Mum, Carla, as if wanting Carla to answer for her. Carla would then repeat the question I had asked, often several times and sometimes rephrasing. Then Danielle would spend a long time in silence, seemingly thinking about what to say. Her answers, when they finally came, were often monosyllabic or very short. This is very frustrating for a homeopath.
Carla filled in a few gaps. She told me that Danielle is slow to complete tasks and that she likes to know exactly what is required before she does something.
In the end, I gave Danielle repeated doses of Graphites 30C, a common remedy for eczema with cracked skin. I gave a low potency aimed simply at alleviating the physical symptoms because I was not confident I had discovered Danielle’s pattern of behaviour. The mental/emotional picture was still lacking.
She did OK on this remedy. The eczema improved and then returned, less inflamed than before. This is common when physical prescriptions are administered. Until she returned for a follow-up, Danielle continued to take the remedy with some improvement.
At the follow-up, I probed deeper into Danielle’s psyche, even though it was still difficult to get lengthy answers from her. She continued to look at her Mum who answered for her or rephrased questions, indicating that her reticence or shyness had not been affected by the remedy.
The breakthrough came when I asked Carla for more detail about the pregnancy. Two years prior to giving birth to Danielle, Carla became pregnant. Unfortunately, the baby was stillborn. Her medical specialists were unable to give a reason for this.
Consequently, when Carla fell pregnant with Danielle, she was paranoid the same thing would happen again.
The doctors gave her a list of instructions about what she could and couldn’t do; things she should avoid, like paint fumes and working for long stretches at the computer. Her midwife added to the list and recommended specific food plans. Her sisters and friends freely gave advice every time she saw them. This made Carla’s situation worse because, in the end, she didn’t really know what to do for the best. She felt anxious and tense the whole pregnancy. She said it was as if she had lost the ability to make a decision herself. She felt confused and unable to focus on some tasks.
That’s when the penny dropped for me. Carla’s state during pregnancy was typical for the homeopathic remedy Alumina which is given to people who find it difficult to make decisions because they are confused by all the options. They look to others to make their decisions for them. Indian homeopath, Dr Rajan Sankaran, describes them as being confused about their identity: “Do I want to be me or do I want to be who you want me to be?” 3
This appeared to be the state Carla experienced during her pregnancy with Danielle. When I reviewed Danielle’s statements and the way she acted in clinic, I realised this was her state, too. Danielle couldn’t make a decision for herself. She always left it to her mother or her coach or her friends or sisters. People needing the remedy Alumina are slow answering questions, give vague answers and can’t be hurried. This is what I had observed about Danielle in clinic. It is also a big eczema remedy where the patient will scratch to the point of bleeding.
So, I gave Danielle a couple of doses of Alumina 200C over a period of weeks.
There was great improvement. Her hands cleared up and she was able to straighten them easily. Her feet started looking better with only a small amount of eczema left on the top of her feet instead of the whole foot being covered in dry, scaly scabs. Her face and lips improved. Personality-wise, her mother said she seemed really happy and in a great mood. She seemed to be developing more of an independent streak.
Over time, her eczema resolved completely.
This case illustrates how the mother’s state during pregnancy can influence the child’s personality and pathology. Giving a homeopathic remedy based on this state can remove that overlay and allow the child to become well and develop their own personality. As Dr Johnson writes: “If the mother is not healthy or experiences a trauma or shocking event, the child can be affected. These things play a role as to what state the infant will be in and what remedy he requires.” 1
An expectant mother can’t always control what happens in her world or how she deals with it. However, she can be aware of how she is feeling, how she reacts to issues and how she deals with any trauma. Journaling during periods of stress can be a way of letting these feelings out and can be a useful tool for a homeopath, if needed later for either child or mother.
And if her child is born with pathology or develops pathology in the first couple of years, she may consider homeopathic treatment which stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself, mentally, emotionally and physically by treating the root cause rather than suppressing. The child can then be free to develop as a healthy individual.
- Johnson, L. (2010). The child’s world. Glasgow, Scotland. Saltire Books Limited.
- Ministry of Health. (2014).Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/pregnancy
- Sankaran, R. (2005). Sankaran’s schema. Mumbai, India: Homeopathic Medical Publishers.
Kathy Thomas has been practising homeopathy since 2002. She runs a clinic from her own home in West Auckland and is the Senior Homeopath at My Remedy (www.myremedy.co.nz), an integrated clinic, in Takapuna. Registered with the NZ Council of Homeopaths, Kathy is passionate about empowering patients to take control of their health and become the person they are meant to be. She is registered with the NZ Council of Homeopaths (RCHom) and the Natural Health Council. She is also certified in Touch for Health and Nutrition. To contact Kathy, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editors note: It is recognised that there is some controversy when it comes to Homeopathy as a treatment. This article is not designed to recommend homeopathy as an alternative to any other healthcare, but to offer information on complementary therapies in the interests of informed consent. It is the readers job to make personal health decisions based on research and personal requirements. It is important that if you choose to use homeopathy you seek treatment from someone who is registered and who knows when to refer you if further treatment is needed. It is worthy to note that homeopathy is considered a standard part of treatment in countries like India and France. More information found here.