Remedies for natural childbirth

If you are planning a natural labour, without the use of pain medications, here are some remedies that may help to reduce discomfort.

During labour it is important to try & encourage Apana Vayu (downward flow of energy) and also to reduce Vata (calming the mind, nervous system, dryness, wind, etc). There are many natural remedies that can help alleviate discomfort from Yoga, maternal positioning, optimal foetal positioning, massage oils, homeopathic remedies, acupressure, reflexology, herbal remedies and more. This post gives a brief overview of some remedies that may help during the different stages of labour.

What to do during labour – check list/suggestions

Stage 1 – Contractions & Dilation

Longer intervals between contractions progressing to full dilation

Early stage: Characterised by backache, aching in your lower tummy, cramps, or low-intensity contractions

  • You will most likely be at home for this part of labour
  • Rest if/when possible – you will need the energy later so don’t burnout before the big event….
  • Eat if hungry – something easy to digest that will sustain energy (smoothie, chia/avo pudding, tapioca pudding, stewed fruit, rice pudding, etc)
  • Create a calm nurturing environment: Dim the lights, light candles, burn essential oils (clary sage/lavender/rose/sandalwood), play relaxing music, etc
  • Herbal remedies
    • Relaxation tea -Labour is often stalled or made more difficult when the body is tense or anxious, try drinking some relaxation tea to help soothe your nervous system.  Choose from:  lemon balm /chamomile /rose /hawthorn /ashwagandha /shatavari, etc (always make sure the herbs you’re ingesting are safe during pregnancy and suitable for you)
    • Peonia – relax expectant mother, reduce cramping, encourage labour.
    • Ginger & Agrimony: Nausea, tension, vomiting, etc
  • Deep-belly breathing & Ujjayi breath
  • Massage using Dhanwantharam & Black sesame seed oil. Excellent for reducing pain and reducing Vata.
  • Reflexology & acupressure points
  • Yoga asanas & stretches – Cat Stretch, Doggie tail wagging, hugging ball & rocking, Polar bear, child’s pose, hip circles (on ball, leaning against wall, etc), deep lunges leaning against wall/chair, squatting, etc
  • Bath with oils
  • Hot water bottle for back/hip pain
  • Spinning babies techniques: Side lying techniqueRebozo sifting: between contractions during early and early active labor, Birthing Ball pelvic rotations, bouncing, etc, Forward-Leaning Inversion (indications: slow progress, cervix dilation slow, back/hip pain, not if labour is progressing well)
  • Walk – walking can be really helpful to keep labour progressing, encourage the head down and to reduce pain.
  • Homeopathic medicines (expanded info for each remedy can be found at the end of this article)
    • Aconite 200c – fear/extreme stress
    • Caulophyllum 12c – first stage of labour, failure to progress, ineffective contractions
    • Gelsemium 30C oe 200C – cervix not dilating, produces strong contractions
    • Kali carb – back labour (posterior presentation)
    • Emerald 1m- Before birth – removes fear; safe & painless delivery….
    • Trillium 12c – Used to bring down the baby, improves expulsive power of uterus
    • Ruby 1m– exhaustion, fear of giving birth
  • Stay Hydrated: Best drinks – Pomegranate juice & coconut water
  • Remind your birth support team to use encouraging words….

Active labour: 

Cervix dilates from 3cm or 4cm to 10cm. Characterised by painful, regular contractions. These gradually become more frequent, longer, and stronger in intensity.

  • Deep-belly breathing & Ujjayi breath
  • Reduce talking – go deeper into body – listen to/ say mantras/meditate, etc
  • Acupressure points & massage for pain during contractions
  • Homeopathic remedies
    • Trillium 12c – Used to bring down the baby, improves expulsive power of uterus
    • Arsenicum 30c or 200c: weak labour, fear
    • Ruby 1m– exhaustion, fear of giving birth
    • Chamomilla 6c painful contractions
    • Carbo Veg 30 or 200c- state of collapse, distressed/slowed movements baby
    • Kali phos 200c- exhaustion
    • Sepia 30-200c-  worn out, back pain, etc
  • Ginger & Agrimony: Nausea, tension, vomiting, etc
  • Yarrow tincture: clumsiness before delivery; prevents excessive bleeding, disperses heat (hot core, cold limbs)
  • Yoga asanas & stretches – Cat Stretch, Doggie tail wagging, hugging ball & rocking, Polar bear, child’s pose, hip circles (on ball, leaning against wall, etc), deep lunges leaning against wall/chair, squatting, etc
  • Bath/shower – warm water is excellent for pain relief
  • Use different positions
  • Stay Hydrated: Raspberry leaf tea/relaxation tea/coconut water/pomegranate juice, etc
  • Spinning babies techniques
    • Side lying technique – Stall in labor, contractions with slow process, painful contractions, easier for baby to move through birth canal
    • Forward-Leaning Inversion: not if labour is progressing well)
    • Rebozo technique: between contractions during early and early active labor
    • Abdominal Lift – during each contraction.
  • Walk if it feels good
  • Positive /encouraging words and direction – something from this list or natural remedies that might help the situation. Remember to stay positive and encouraging if you are supporting a birth
  • Music – make sure it’s very relaxing at this stage of birthing

Transition: Move from the first stage of labour to the second, pushing stage. It usually starts when your cervix is about 8cm (3.5in) dilated, and ends when your cervix is fully dilated, or when you get the urge to push. Characterised by much stronger and longer-lasting contractions. Common for the waters to break before. Can be intense and overwhelming. \

This can be the most testing part of labour.. 

  • Stay hydrated
  • Continue deep breathing; keep mobile and use Asanas, birth ball, etc
  • Use acupressure points for each contraction
  • Yarrow: clumsiness before delivery; prevents excessive bleeding, disperses heat (hot core, cold limbs)
  • Trillium 12c – Used to bring down the baby, improves expulsive power of uterus
  • Chamomilla 6c painful contractions
  • Ruby 1m– exhaustion, fear of giving birth
  • Ginger & Agrimony: Nausea, tension, vomiting, etc
  • Rest before pushing (use remedies for exhaustion if needed)
  • Warm Compresses on the perineum (to prevent tears)

Stage 2 – Pushing

Characterised by increasingly powerful contractions, along with an overwhelming urge to bear down. Wait until you feel this urge before you start actively pushing, as pushing before this is likely to achieve little besides exhausting you

  • Use gravity & maternal positioning to help shorten pushing phase. birthing ball, etc (lunge pose can help, as can squatting, or kneeling on all fours)
  • Trillium 12c – Used to bring down the baby, improves expulsive power of uterus
  • Ruby 1M – exhaustion, fear of giving birth
  • Carbo Veg 30-200C – state of collapse
  • Kali phos 200C- exhaustion
  • Yarrow: clumsiness before delivery; prevents excessive bleeding, disperses heat (hot core, cold limbs)
  • Bellis Perennis 200C- malposition of baby, deep pelvic bruising
  • Warm compresses as labour progresses (really important to prevent tearing)

Stage 3 – Placenta expulsion 

After the birth you may have a few minutes to rest before contractions start again. 

Remedies to help expulsion and reduce bleeding

  • Yarrow: prevents excessive bleeding, disperses heat (hot core, cold limbs)
  • Raspberry leaf tea – strengthens contractions & expulsion of placenta
  • Bellis Perennis 30-200c-  deep pelvic bruising
  • Arnica 30-200c– bruising
  • Calendula 30-200c- perineum tears (& topical oil if tears)
  • Hypericum 30-200c- nerve pain & damage
  • Secale 30c – after syntocin & for retained placenta

C-section delivery will be discussed in a different post. 

Put together a labour kit at least 3 weeks before your due date. You will be able to find supplies at a local herbal or homeopathic dispensary or possibly from a health food shop. If you are in Ireland you can purchase any of the remedies mentioned from our dispensary. Practice the Yoga techniques regularly before labour and get acquainted with the Spinning Babies techniques & maternal positioning in advance. Practice/ learn techniques: massage, reflexology and acupressure with your birth partner for at least one month prior to the birth

This information is not intended to replace professional health advice and is intended only as a guide. Before using any homeopathic or herbal remedies please seek professional advice and always advise your doctor if you are using natural remedies.

Herbal Remedies

Ginger & Agrimony: This combination  works really well for nausea, stress/tension which affects digestion

  • Nausea
  • Tension
  • Caught in a bind
  • This remedy combination is best for digestive related problems such as nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite.

Peonia

  • Relax the expectant mother
  • Reduce cramping
  • Encourage labour
  • After birth can be used for fits/seizures of the baby

Raspberry Leaf

  • Nourishes mother & child
  • Tones the uterus
  • Prevents tearing of the cervix
  • Postpartum pains
  • Reduce bleeding at birth & expel afterbirth
  • Lactation discomfort & enriches milk

Squaw vine (partridge berry)

  •  Prepares the body for birth
  •  Helps to reduce the length of labour
  •  Postpartum depression
  • Lactation

Trillium

  • Used to bring down the baby
  • Increases the downward explosive power of the uterus
  • Postpartum it helps to reduce bleeding and tone the uterus with bearing down pains. She feels as if hips and thighs would break into pieces

Yarrow

  • Clumsiness 12 hours before delivery due to hormonal changes loosening the tendons
  • To prevent excessive bleeding & pain
  • Disperse heat

Homeopathic Remedies

Aconite : Premature labour after fright/violent experience; Distressed, anxious, fearful before or during labour. Fear of own or baby’s death. Restless. Tossing in agony. Skin dry, red hot. May scream, glassy staring eyes; Dilated pupils. Symptoms have sudden onset. Labour too quick. Pains extreme, violent, terrifying. Mother feels panicky, distressed, despairing. Heartbeat rapid or uncomfortably strong. Newborns in shock, colour normal but not crying/moving (carbo veg). Worse: at night (especially around midnight); touch, noise. Better: Fresh air

Arnica: Encourages healing: controls bleeding; reduces swelling and likelihood of pus formation. Beneficial for all women during labour. Reduces exhaustion, gives second wind, particularly during long, slow, painful labours, where tiredness makes contractions weak/ineffectual. Give routinely after birth to speed recovery/alleviate battered & bruised feeling. Use for shock, when someone claims to be alright but clearly isn’t. Reduces excessive bleeding where birth was traumatic/unusually long or short. Worse being touched or examined; any jarring movements; lying or sitting on injured parts.

Arsenicum: Contractions interrupted by painful sensitiveness of uterus and cervical os.  Labour is weak and the uterus flabby. Sometimes indicated for third stage of labour to expel the placenta. Also if expulsion of foetal head is difficult due to rigidity of the cervical os. Fainting attacks. Great burning pains. Great dryness of the mouth. Fear, anxiety and restlessness are marked features. Fear of death. Body covered with cold sweat. Hypersensitive and melancholic. Restless due to fear and anxiety.

Bellis Perennis: Before  birth can relieve sciatica caused by the position of the baby. Reduces the pain of overstretched uterine ligaments. Refreshes the parts that Arnica cannot reach. An excellent remedy for healing injury to deep tissue which is sore/bruised. Particularly useful after a C-Section.

Calendula: A wonderful remedy for speeding up the healing process  of cuts/lacerations/wounds. Can be used as an oil or cream or tincture. It can be used as a healing balm for the perineum after birth to treat tears. In tincture form it can be diluted in bath or used as a compress. Take internally if there is pus present or pains are causing discomfort.

Carbo Veg: A life saver par excellence! Extreme symptoms and a state of collapse due to oxygen starvation. Body cold, limp, pale or blue. Use in conjunction with other efforts to revive respiration. Hold one pill inside the lower lip of patient (including newborns) until symptoms alleviate. In foetal distress due to oxygen starvation, give to mother to reduce risk of asphyxia to baby. Less severe cases: extreme sluggishness; little or no vitality; coldness (even breath); intense air hunger (especially cold). Face appears pinched, pale, sallow or blue. Excellent remedy for excruciating trapped wind (eg after c-section). Worse: heat, exertion, humidity, lying down, morning & evening. Better: fanning/fresh air.

Caulophylum: Usually used in first stage of labour to establish strong productive contractions. Do not use routinely. Although sharp and painful , contractions are short, ineffective, spasmodic and unstable moving around the bladder, groin & thighs. Sometimes they will slow or stop completely due to exhaustion. Cervix fails to dilate. Symptoms include chilliness, shivering, trembling and irritability. May be thirsty during contractions. If thirst less and Caulophylum fails think of Gels

Chamomilla: Extreme over-sensitivity and violent bad temper. May demand help one moment and reject it the next. Abusive and argumentative, especially with loved ones. Find pains unbearable. May scream frequently or say “I want to die”. Feels and looks overheated. Better: being uncovered, stripping off. Worse: evening: fresh air; company; being spoken to or stared at.

Cimicifuga: Similar to Caulophylum. Non progressive labour pains. Sensation as if will pass stool during labour. Cervix fails to dilate and remains rigidly closed. Contractions move from side to side or down into the hips or thighs; gestures, speech and actions become horribly disjointed; physical symptoms often alternate with intense mental/emotional symptoms. Full of dreadful fears/foreboding, perhaps because of a previous experience of birth, miscarriage or abortion. “I can’t carry on” Severe labour pains. Unable to walk properly as trembling too much. Worse: cold, damp. Better: lying on left side

Coffea: Ineffectual labour pains. false pains especially in the small of the back. intolerance of tight clothing around abdomen. Nervous excitement and delusions (visions & auditory hallucinations). Doesn’t like to be touched or movements around her. Severe headache. Excessive hunger. Very excitable but also anxious and irritable. Better warmth and lying down.

Emerald: For safe and painless delivery. Give 1-2 doses during labour.

Gelsemium: Next best after Caulphylum for producing strong contractions. False labour pains. Where there is no dilatation of the cervix. Very useful if labour is slow and sluggish. Physical heaviness, even eye lids droop, producing a dazed, stupefied appearance which bellies the mental alertness that is there. Body paralysed by exhaustion or stage fright. Muscular weakness leads to trembling.Loss of muscular power to expel the baby. 44 Chilly, possibly shivers up and down the spine. Thirstless. Worse: Physical exertion; over excitement; receiving bad news. Better: sweating; urinating; being alone.  

Hypericum:  Excellent first aid remedy for damage to nerve rich areas. Pains shoot along nerves with terrible intensity. Most useful after labour. Particularly after c-sections, epidurals, episiotomies, forceps deliveries. Alternate with other applicable trauma remedies (Arnica, Bellis perenis, etc). Worse: cold; pressure; touch.

Ipecac: Labour pains or bright red haemorrhaging with constant violent nausea. Face is blue with dark rings under the eyes. Hot & cold sweats. Worse: at night; for food or sight ir smell of it.

Kali Carb: Useful in backache in labours, where nagging pain is felt in back, buttocks, thighs. The mother to be is often extremely irritable, yet needs company. Posterior presentations where labour gets stuck. Backache greatly relieved by very firm pressure. Headache during labour. Chilliness after a contraction. Worse: night and early hours of morning; touch; noise. Better: warmth

Kali Phos: Recommended for exhaustion. Very helpful during labour if no other strong symptoms. Better taken between contractions. Can be used often throughout labour whenever energy is low. Useful for attendants too.

Nat Mur: Premature. Slow. Labour pains stopping or slowing with exhaustion. During labour women get depressed and want to be alone. They don’t ask for anything and become difficult to reach.

Phytolacca: A post labour remedy that has a deserved reputation for treating cracked nipples, blocked milk ducts and mastitis (breast inflammation) which may occur during breast feeding. Pains intense; radiate out from around nipple, sometimes into the shoulder or arm.

Pulsatilla: Used from 36th week to encourage breech/transverse baby to turn. Also very important during labour. Very clear emotional symptoms: weepiness; clinginess & pleading for help. Contractions short, weak or stop entirely. Pain may be felt in back. Uterine inertia with want of expulsive power causing retention of the foetus. 1st & 2nd stage of labour. Other physical symptoms include exhaustion; faintness; nausea; thriftlessness; vomiting. Worse: stuffy room; twilight; getting cold or wet. Better: fresh air, moving around; sympathy and company. Postpartum  – expulsion of placenta difficult. Haemorrhage is profuse.

Pyrogen: Sepsis/blood poisoning after childbirth. infected wounds

Ruby: Exhaustion, fear of giving birth or having an accident whilst pregnant. Enables letting go for childbirth. Takes the violence out of childbirth.

Secale: Intolerant of stuffy rooms, but emotionally more stupefied in labour, with much longer contractions. If these stop, trembling may start. Most often used to antidote ill-effects of Syntometrine (given to speed up delivery of placenta). Take immediately after where possible. Can be used to encourage a retained placenta to be pushed out naturally if contractions are too weak.  

Sepia: Pains severe; dragging down; much relieved by exercise. Emotionally feel irritable or indifferent to loved ones; respond badly to sympathy. Sluggish and weepy. Useful for treating uterine prolapse with strong bearing down sensation. Think Sepia if children are born close together giving the body insufficient time to recover. Worse: fasting; touch; staying in same position. Better: after eating; moving around.

Staphysagria: Often used after labour, particularly if the mother feels anger, resentment or humiliation because of medical procedures or interventions during labour and does not want to be touched. Consider it if the birth involved any of the following: intrusive or painful internal examinations; insertion of a catheter; an enema; forceps delivery; episiotomy; stitches; use of stirrups. Pains are stitching & smarting.

All the natural remedies mentioned are available from our dispensary.