Homeopathy & Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Childbirth
“Hi Jenny, P was born this afternoon! All went as we wished for, quite unbelievable, even if it was longer than expected. Homeopathy was essential in getting the process going again, whenever things were sluggish and also to get my energy going again. He came out waving at us with one hand!” NS, Mother of three, after her first homebirth.
"I loved, loved, loved using essential oils before, during and after my pregnancy! It was by far the best pregnancy I have had. I used them with my third baby. I used lemon, or any other citrus oil in water, and I never had any swelling. I took 'lifelong vitality' supplements and I felt my hormones were always balanced. I rubbed frankincense and lavender on my abdomen every day to reduce stretch marks... My recovery was so quick I had to remind myself when I got tired that I'd just had a baby. The 'anti-aging' blend made healing a very quick process. I loved having the oils after delivery to continue to help my baby... I knew he was protected because he was in own essential oil bubble." Kathy
Why Homeopathy and Essential Oils?
Homeopathy and Essential Oils are ideal for women in our childbearing years because they provide gentle systems of medicine that are safe, effective, and non-toxic. Unfortunately, during pregnancy, too many of us suffer the discomfort of minor complaints rather than seek treatment because we are concerned about the side effects on ourselves and our unborn children from many common drugs. However, it is not always necessary to suffer through pregnancy, as homeopathic medicines and Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential (CPTG) Oils are available to relieve many common symptoms – and best of all they are beneficial to you and your child.
Homeopathic medicines are safe because they are so highly diluted that only a minute amount of the source substance is used in their preparation. Even so, well used, homeopathic remedies can act as a catalyst to help your immune system and vitality to function at it’s optimum, because they still contain effective nanodoses. CPTG Essential Oils are safe because every batch is scientifically tested for purity and potency, making them so safe, you can drink them. By stimulating your vitality in pregnancy, homeopathy and essential oils can benefit both you and your baby. By becoming as healthy as possible during pregnancy, you can give your baby the ideal conditions in which to thrive, and help to prevent future complications as much as possible.
Physical and emotional changes during pregnancy may cause symptoms such as mild urinary problems, anaemia, varicose veins, cramps, thrush and emotional distress. All these problems and other potentially complicated symptoms such as raised blood pressure and swollen legs, can often be helped by professional treatment, whilst also being carefully monitored by your midwife or other healthcare professional.
What complaints can be helped with homeopathy and essential oils?
The suggestions on this page are for complaints such as: breast tenderness, morning sickness, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn, sciatica, swelling, varicose veins, backache, optimal positioning, slow labours, fast labours, exhaustion, bruising, emotional highs and lows, recovery from c-sections, tearing and episiotomies, and general recovery for you and your baby. If your symptoms are severe or chronic (persistent), consult a registered homeopath, your midwife and/or your general practitioner. If you are already undergoing a course of homeopathic treatment, please contact your homeopath before prescribing for yourself. In any case, don’t take any remedies higher than 6c or 30c potency without consulting a professional homeopath.
If you would like to try any of the homeopathic remedies listed below, take them in a 30c potency and don’t repeat them more than 3 times (three times a day for an intense acute attack, or once a day for three days for a less intense problem). If there is no improvement after three doses, try another indicated remedy or contact a practitioner.
When using essential oils, please always use common sense, and follow your own intuition. Only use oils that you feel comfortable using. Smell them first before applying topically or ingesting. If the find the smell disagreeable that day, maybe don't use it, and try something more agreeable to you. Less is more. Often only one drop is enough to have an effect. If you do get a mild rash from the topical use of an oil, or accidentally use too much, dilute it with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Don't use water to try to remove it. Oil and water don't mix, so always dilute with a base oil (even olive oil if that's all you have to hand). If you are ingesting essential oils, please only ever use CPTG (Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade) oils. Nothing else is safe or recommended to take internally. In fact if it is not CPTG, it could be very toxic.
- Use an essential oil blend such as ClaryCalm to help balance hormones naturally. Apply a few drops topically.
Symptoms of morning sickness include nausea, occasional vomiting and tiredness. Many women experience these symptoms during the first three months of pregnancy, ususally in the morning when the stomach is empty, although it can occur at any time or all day. The traditional cure of eating a dry biscuit before getting out of bed is worth trying. Avoid rich, fatty foods and try eating little and often if your nausea is worse when you are hungry. Also be sure to eat enough protein (20-30g at your evening meal). Seek professional help if your vomiting is severe, for example if you are unable to keep food down and are losing weight or if it persists past your third month. Be sure to keep well hydrated.
The following homeopathic remedies are often well indicated for nausea in pregnancy:
- Ipecac: constant nausea with empty belching and retching; vomiting is difficult and does not relieve your nausea.
- Nux vomica: nausea with retching that is relieved by vomiting; sour belching, indigestion and hearburn. You may have a sensation that there is a knot in your stomach. You feel bad tempered and impatient.
- Pulsatilla: nausea (with little vomiting), worse after eating and drinking, better in the fresh air and for company. You may feel weepy, moody, and need comforting.
- Sepia: intermittent nausea that is worse in the mornings and worse for the smell or thought of food; there is an empty, sinking feeling in the stomach that is temporarily relieved by eating. You may feel apathetic, exhausted and heavy but oddly are better for vigorous excercise, and you may be indifferent or cross with others.
Essential Oils, and supplements for morning sickness and nausea
- Peppermint oil is wonderful at settling the stomach. Available in tiny 'beadlets', these are easy to use and convenient.
- Cardamon oil. One drop makes in instant 'chai' in any warm drink, which is also great for the stomach.
- Digestive blend of fennel, cardamon, peppermint, ginger and aniseed oils. One or two drops can be taken internally, or rubbed onto your stomach or the bottoms of your feet.
- Magnesium. Although this is included in the multivitamins I recommend below, some women just need a bit more. Buy some magnesium flakes to add to your bath water. Great also for relaxation of tight muscles and cramps, and for improving sleep.
- Digestive enzymes such as TerraZyme. Take one capsule with each meal, one on waking and one before bed.
Constipation in pregnancy
Constipation is a common complaint in pregnancy because the hormones that prepare the muscles of the pelvis for labour, can also slow the digestive processes down. Adjusting your diet can often help mild constipation. Dietary changes that may help include: increasing you intake of fluids (especially water), fruit and vegetables; going easy on wheat products (as the gluten can have a clogging effect); and avoiding iron tablets as these can cause or exacerbate constipation.
If you are concerned about your iron levels, be sure to use a good multi-vitamen (such as the in the 'Lifelong Vitality' pack), or use Floridix (a more easily absorbed liquid iron supplement widely available in health food shops and pharmacies) and increase your intake of green leafy vegetables. Towards the end of your pregnancy, a certain amount of anaemia can be normal, in that you will be carrying so much extra fluid to accommodate for the pregnancy that the iron in your blood has become more dilute, but so long as the other clogging factors in your blood tests are normal, this should not cause any problems with increased bleeding or bruising (for more about iron and diet, see below).
Any lasting change in your usual pattern of bowel movements should be assessed professionally but for a simple case of constipation in pregnancy, you could try one of the following homeopathic remedies:
- Bryonia: large, hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass; often with a headache that is worse for the slightest movement. You may be irritable.
- Nux vomica: frequent urging to pass a stool but in spite of straining, passing only small amounts each time; it feels as if some if left behind; piles that may itch and bleed.
- Sepia: straining to pass a large, hard stool; your stomach feels full and there is a sensation of a lump in the rectum that may remain even after passing a stool. You feel generally sluggish.
- Sulphur: constipation with piles that itch and burn and are worse for heat. You are generally restless, thirsty and sensitive to heat.
Essential oils and supplements for constipation
- A Digestive blend of fennel, cardamon, ginger, peppermint and aniseed oils can be taken internally (1-2 drops in a glass of water), or rubbed onto the abdomen.
- Digestive enzymes such as TerraZyme. Take one capsule with each meal, and one on waking and one before bed.
- If you have a history of having used anti-biotics for any reason, you may well need to top up with pro-biotics, such as Pb Assist.
Contrary to popular belief, aches and nerve pain brought on by pregnancy tends to be in the pelvis and back, not around the sciatic nerve. Most women who think they have sciatica during pregnancy actually have pelvic girdle pain. Pelvic instability and symphysis pubis pain (where the two pubis bones at the front of the pelvic girdle are unstable and can rub together) seems to be increasingly common during pregnancy. In any case whether it’s sciatica, pelvic girdle pain, or symphysis pubis instability, one of these remedies might help:
- Bellis Perenis: is used for nerve pain in the groin during pregnancy that makes the legs collapse (see Miranda Casto’s video above).
- Hypericum: is an excellent remedy for nerve pain and nerve damage in general.
- Trillium Pendulata: can also be used for symphsis pubis pain and instability during pregnancy.
Essential oils for backache and soreness
- 'Deep Blue' soothing blend is wonderful for aching joints, muscles, back and neck pain. Not only soothes the pain, but is anti-inflammatory, relaxing and healing too.
- Lemongrass can also be very soothing applied topically
- Ask your massage therapist or your partner to give you a massage with AromaTouch blend.
What about diet and lifestyle?
During pregnancy, it is especially important to eat well from a wide range of foods, as this will provide you with the extra trace minerals and vitamins that you need. Personally, I used to think that if I ate well, this would be enough. However having done more research, I now believe that supplementation with a good quality, well balanced multivitamin is essential, because even if we are eating fresh organic food every day, due to over production and falling soil quality, our food just doesn't have the level of nutrients that we have evolved to expect. For this reason, I recommend using the Lifelong Vitality supplement range of a well balance multi-vitamen (VMz Microplex), a high quality stable Omega Oil (XEOMega) and a Cellular Vitality Complex (AphaCRS+).
During pregnancy, it is also recommended to increase your intake of iron rich foods to keep up with an increased demand (your body needs all that iron to produce not only your baby, but also the placenta and all that extra blood to supply them both and you). Foods rich in iron include green leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses, dried peaches and apricots, beans and lentils, whole grains, seeds (especially sunflower and pumpkin), and eggs.
Vitamin C can help the body to absorb iron so have a fresh citrus drink (orange, grapefruit or just a squeeze of lemon or lime in water) with your meals to increase you iron intake. Avoid tea and coffee, especially with a meal, as it can prevent iron from being absorbed. Iron tablets (commonly prescribed on the NHS) often have side effects such as constipation so ask your health food store or pharmacy about alternatives such as Floridix if you need extra iron and are not able to get it from your diet.
Many of the above foods (especially black-eye beans and blackstrap molasses) are also high in folates, a important trace mineral that helps with the absorption of iron and is considered beneficial for a healthy pregnancy. Folates are also found on the 'Lifelong Vitality' multi-vitamens. Be careful of taking 'folic-acid' products on their own however, as they are often synthetically produced and therefore not easily absorbed by the body.
Avoid smoking and alcohol as these have been shown to damage your health and that of your child. If you want to cut down on these, be sure to discuss this with your homeopath, midwife and/or GP as they can support you in this in a number of ways. Be sure to get plenty of rest and sleep and to exercise regularly.
Exercise and rest
Yoga has been found to be particularly helpful during pregnancy, both physically, emotionally, and for optimal positioning of the baby (more on this below). If you are in North London I can personally recommend:
- Yvonne Moore for Pre & Post-Natal Yoga & Childbirth Education in Primrose Hill NW1, Archway N19 & Camden Town N7 – 020 7794 2056
- Clerkenwellbeing has lots of services for pre and post natal women including pre and post natal yoga, pilates, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, chiropody and podiatry.
Also, be sure to get enough rest and sleep. Miranda Castro has written here about how to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy, including suggeted remedies that might help. And don’t forget the sex! Whether you’ve gone off it or are enjoying, for once, the spontaneity of not worrying about getting pregnant, homeopathy can help with any sexual problems you may be having during your pregnancy .
Essential oils to help you relax and sleep (great to diffuse in the bedroom)
- Balance blend is very calming, like a walk in a forest. Diffuse or rub onto your neck or soles of feet.
- Lavender is well known for it's calming and soothing aroma
- Serenity blend is designed for restful sleep. Do not use while driving!
- Frankincense is very grounding, yet uplifting.
- Sandalwood, vetiver, roman chamomile and bergomot are also popular calming and relaxing oils that can be used alone or blended.
Optimal positioning of the baby
As well as pre-natal yoga (see above), 'scrubbing the floor' on all fours during the last few weeks is one way of trying to ensure an optimal position for the baby – with it’s head down and with it’s spine along your belly and not your spine. Being on all fours turns your belly into a lovely hammock, and the rocking scrubbing motion helps them sway into position. The homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla is also known to have turned many breach babies around, even at the last minute in the hospital. Please check with a homeopath to ensure it is appropriate to use in your situation.
How can homeopathy and essential oils help during the birth?
There are many remedies that can be effective in dealing with possible problems during childbirth, such as a cervix that is slow to dilate, pain, excessive bleeding, retained placenta and other difficulties (Smith 1998, Using homeopthy during pregnancy and labour, Midwifery Digest 8(3) 283-6). As your Doula, I can be available at every step, or as your homeopath, I am happy to advise you and your partner or other birth companion on the use of remedies in labour, and can help you write up a birth plan that includes remedy suggestions for any eventuality you may be concerned about. I can also make sure you have a kit with a selection of remedies available tailor made for you. For example, the following homeopathic remedies are often required by women, both before, during and after labour:
- Arnica: an indespensible remedy that can be given from time to time during labour to help the muscles function properly, to relieve the over-exertion of labour and reduce the bruised feeling after delivery. For more information about the use or Arnica and Bellis perenis in pregnancy and birth, see Miranda Castro’s article here.
- Aconite: the labour is too fast (any stage), the pains are very strong (even unbearable) and you have a feeling of panic.
- Caullophyllum is sometimes used to help start labour when a baby is considered overdue, or for a difficult labour where the cervix is slow to dilate and the pains are strong but ineffective. You feel cold and trembly. (This remedy may not be available other than from a homeopathic pharmacy or from a homeopath). For guidlines on the use of caullophyllum please see Miranda Castro’s article here.
- Kali-phos: for simple exhaustion during labour, mental, emotional and physical. When everything stops due to exhaustion this remedy may help get the contractions moving in an efficient manner.
- Pulsatilla: when contractions are irregular and weak, the cervix is slow to dilate and you feel miserable, clingy and tearful. You may feel like wanting to give up and go home (or leave if you are already home)!
Essential oils to use during labour
- Balance blend is very calming, like a walk in a forest. Diffuse or rub onto your neck or soles of feet.
- Wild Orange is a very uplifting and motivating scent that is popular in many birthing rooms.
- Lavender is well known for it's calming and soothing aroma
- Serenity blend is designed for deep relaxation.
- Frankincense is very grounding, yet uplifting, and is wonderful to use, ceremoniously perhaps, to welcome your new baby into the world with a smidge of this oil between their eyes, and may help to ward off sticky eyes.
- Motivate is a blend of citrus, peppermint and vanilla scents, that can help you focus and energise you if your labour has been going on for some time and you need some help to get that 'let's get this done' feeling.
- Deep Blue is a blend that you might want to use in the early stages of labour if you have a back pain type of labour, or leg cramps, but be wary of using it towards the end of the birth, as you don't really want to catch the baby with this blend still on your hands as it is quite strong smelling.
- ClarySage or ClaryCalm blend can be used to help get the labour started if you are overdue, or if it has stalled for any reason. So save these only for the very late stages on pregnancy and not for use earlier on.
Healing after the birth
After birth, you can use homeopathic remedies to speed up healing for yourself and your baby:
- Aconite: for shock following the fear of the intensity of birth, in yourself, your partner and/or your baby (especially if it was a fast delivery).
- Arnica: to relieve soreness, bruising and after pains. Also helpful for babies who are bruised (from a long or difficult labour or a forceps or ventouse delivery). For more information about the use or Arnica and Bellis perenis in pregnancy and birth, see Miranda Castro’s article here.
- Bellis perennis: If you had a cesearian section delivery, or are still feeling sore and bruised three days after a vaginal birth (and have already taken Arnica), this can help with bruising and pain in deeper muscle tissues, and can also help if your legs and feet are still swollen and bloated even after the birth.
- Kali phos: for mental exhaustion after delivery, with headache and tiredness but too excited to sleep, especially in the first day or two after the birth.
- Pulsatilla: post-natal ‘blues’, especially when the milk comes in. You feel utterly miserable and burst into tears at the slightest thing but you feel much better for company, fresh air, and being comforted.
- Carbo veg: can be useful if the baby was starved of oxygen for some reason during the birth, as it was stuck in the birth canal too long, the placenta detached before the baby was born (placenta previa), or just because they needed help to take their first breath. After the midwives or doctors have got them breathing, these babies can still be a bit blue in the face and may get jaundice, but this remedy can help such babies to recover faster.
Essential oils for after the birth:
- Immortelle is a wonderful blend of Frankincense, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Helichrysum, Rose and Lavender that can both help prepare the perineum before labour, and help it to heal after wards. It can also be used on stretch marks.
Be sure to find out as much as possible about breastfeeding before the birth, so that you already have the information you need, or know where to get it easily, when you really need it (most likely immediately after the birth and in the middle of the first few exhausted nights). For example, did you know that colostrum (the first milk) is rich in vitamin K, which makes the vitamin K offered to babies at birth, either as an injection or orally, hilghly unessessary? And did you know that until babies expel their first poo (meconium), they can often feed almost constantly in order to try to relieve the discomfort?
Treating babies and children
Babies and children tend to respond quickly to homeopathic treatment. There are homeopathic remedies to help relieve the pains of colic or teething, nappy rash and more serious problems, as well as for many other acute childhood afflictions (for more information on this, please come to my workshop on 14th February 2012 on Homeopathy for Childhood Diseases). For information on if, when and how to treat Fevers, please see here.
The question of whether or not to vaccinate your baby is not always easy for parents, so be sure to educate yourself as much as possible about this issue before the birth. Some vaccines are now given immediately after birth, unless you specifically stipulate otherwise, so make sure you have done enough research on this issue yourself to make a fully informed decision. For more information about vaccines, please see here.
Recommended books and further information:
A reference guide written to educate, inspire and empower pregnant women or anyone assisting them, including midwives and doulas.
"A must-have for all mothers wanting to learn how to use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils safely & effectively during pregnancy. Love this book!"
“A must have for any holisticly-minded mother. A very clear guide on to how to use homoeopathy for physical and emotional problems encountered during pregnancy, birth and infancy. And much more besides, with all sorts of more general information and advice: the book has been an essential companion to me during my pregnancies and my children’s early years. You won’t be wasting your money!”
Ina May Gaskin, America’s leading midwife, shares her exceptional birthing wisdom in this intuitive guide to childbirth. By sharing a wealth of knowledge generated by three decades of experience she explains why the natural birthing process, when left to its own devices, can proceed so beautifully on its own. In this invaluable book Ina May teaches you: what really happens during labour; how to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting; tips for maximising your chances of an unmedicated labour and birth; the risks of anaesthesia and caesareans; and, what your doctor doesn’t necessarily tell you. “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” is an inspiring read and gives women the opportunity to take back the fear of childbirth by regaining confidence in their bodies. It tells you everything you need to know to have the best birth experience for you – whether in a hospital, birthing centre or the comfort of home. Buy it here.
In this video, Ina May talks about her latest book:
Conscious Pregnancy: The Gift of Giving Life
by Tarn Taran Kaur Khalsa
This is THE Kundalini Yoga handbook for pregnancy. Tarn Taran Kaur shares a wide and deep spectrum of ancient yogic knowledge and practical life style information, based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan,the Master of Kundalini Yoga. You will enjoy the stories, yogic tips and inspirational guidance from meditative conception, to the 40 Day celebration, to a yogic yoghurt mixture to prevent stretch marks, to clever ways to add protein into your diet, to a mantra for your child at birth, to how to strengthen your nerves, and the birth process. This is the companion book to “Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Manual.” For more information about the KRI-recognized Specialty Teacher Training for Conscious Pregnancy, visit www.kundaliniwomen.org
Healing Our Children:
Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (ages 0-6), by Ramiel Nagal
“There is a natural way to reduce your risk of birth defects by 1602%, miscarriage by 640%, premature births by 315% and reverse infertility in 78.4% of the cases — and doctors and midwives don’t know about it.
Utilizing the wisdom of doctors such as Hippocrates, Noble Prize winning Alex Carrel, and author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston Price, Nagel reveals the actual cause of the following diseases: Birth Defects, Sudden Infant Death, Autism, Infertility, Colic, Tooth Decay, Miscarriage, Infant Mortality, Morning sickness, Premature Birth, Scoliosis, Postpartum Depression, and Mental Disabilities.
The true cause is our toxic foods, our toxic medicines, our toxic environment, and our toxic world. In knowing this and learning to make wise choices, you become empowered to prevent these conditions. While the current medical paradigm blindly believes that such and such disease will be cured in the future, Nagel reveals how these diseases are largely curable, and completely preventable, today”. See also Ramiel’s book: Cure Tooth Decay, based on his experiences with his own children, listed here on my holistic dentistry page.
And finally, how would you like a dolphin for a midwife?