Us Seed SistAs have spent many years working aiding in the support of womens’ journey towards motherhood, we delivered each others baby’s catching them and welcoming them into the herbal worlds at birth!
Our dear friend and colleague Vicky Walker is a birth doula, women’s wellbeing and peri-natal health specialist, weaving together homeopathy, herbal medicine, ritual, movement and somatics. She is particularly interested in the role of culture, ancestry and myth in the healing process and we are lucky to host some of her words here –
The psycho-spiritual state of pregnant women, including their ancestral inheritance, has a direct impact on the physical, emotional and spiritual development of the babies they carry. Holding this involves a holistic, individualised approach. I employ a synthesis of homeopathy, herbal medicine, meditation, ritual and somatics. My intention is to use the least possible intervention, triggering the innate healing potential in each woman, and the baby she is carrying.
Women traverse the heroine’s journey into motherhood in a world where the messages about the female body can be toxic. Sometimes we need to address trauma held in the body and find a path through it. Difficulty in conception is complex and multi-layered. Birth is a series of gateways we are invited to walk through to arrive at our destination. For many women this first gateway involves coming into relationship with their body not externally as an object but from within. There is an opportunity to drop into deeper intuition, to work with new sensations and to listen to what the body needs.
White Chestnut Flower (Aesculus Hippocastanum Albumin)
Later in pregnancy Aesculus and Hammammelis can be used to treat haemorrhoids and varicose veins. The tannins act to strengthen the integrity of blood vessels. Used homeopathically, this remedy has an action on the emotional states of people who may have a history of physical imposition or sexual abuse. They may be anxious about engaging with a medical system in which they may feel overpowered and imposed upon. This remedy often empowers women to question or reject mainstream models of care and help them gain strength and autonomy. Childbirth can be an important opportunity for them to re-establish their boundaries and a sense of their own agency; this plant helps them heal first.
Secale ( Ergot Cornutum)
Secale or is a fungus that grows on rye. It is used in a number of pharmaceutical medications and has an action on the uterus, a derivative being used in the drug ‘Ergometrine’. As a homeopathic remedy it is for women who have had miscarriages and don’t believe that they can create and bring forth a live baby. They may have unprocessed trauma from their losses, often suppressed. Whether from miscarriage, baby loss, or from a termination they felt compelled to undertake, it is a powerful grief remedy. It can be used pre-pregnancy when grief manifesting as anxiety is a block to the pregnancy or during pregnancy ( including ones established through IVF) when the woman is depressed or hypervigilant.
Homeopathic tissue salt programme
The twelve tissue, or ‘Cell Salts’ are made from minerals formed in the earth. Taken in minute doses, they are an easy way to deliver the powers of these simple salts to the body during pregnancy and help with oedema, leg cramps, acid reflux, elasticity, oxygenation, tissue growth and inflammation.
‘Morning sickness’ can range from a mild inconvenience to a life debilitating situation. Infusions of Fennel or Peppermint are nausea preventatives if taken regularly beginning in the morning. Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in water helps to balance blood sugar and thereby prevent nausea associated with hunger. Homeopathic Nux Vomica 30c for nausea triggered by smelling food or Ipecac 30c for actual vomiting. In cases of Hyperemesis Gravidarium where there is constant debilitating nausea and vomiting, Symphoricarpus Racemosus (Snowberry) in high potency (200c) can help to resolve or reduce symptoms.
Topical application of Hypericum-infused oil (St Johns Wort), massaged with heel of hand into the site of pain helps soothe the nerve, particularly when used in conjunction with homeopathic Hypericum 12c. Hypericum is an amazing healer. I include it in a homeopathic combination for post partum along with Arnica, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) and Staphysagria (Larkspur) for women whose births were traumatic and included cuts, tears or bruises.
Slippery Elm and Nat Phos homeopathic tissue salt.
Homeopathic crataegus 12c. Where systolic is high I add the homeopathic tissue salt Nat Mur. If diastolic is high, I add tissue salt Kali Mur.
Herbal Blends for Uterine Preparation
Raspberry leaf, Dandelion, Nettle
Nettle in particular is such an undervalued medicine. Considered by many to contain the richest source of chloroform, it is has immense value as a blood cleanser, kidney and liver tonic. It is full of bio available, calcium, iron, Vitamins C A and K. Along with Dandelion leaf it is protective on so many levels, optimising liver and kidney function, its iron content protective against post partum haemorrhage and anaemia. It helps relieve haemorrhoids and therefore forms one of the chief ingredients in post partum vaginal steaming when this is a problem. Using Nettle in the closing weeks of pregnancy alongside Raspberry leaf to optimise uterine tone, helps to prevent post partum depletion and stagnation. Nettle seeds are full of Essential Fatty Acids as well as neurotransmitters acetylcholine and seratonin and have a profound effect on the mood as well as helping the development of baby’s brain in -utero. They can be used as a condiment on salads, in smoothies or sprinkled on top of cookies.
Beetroot (roots and leaves) in closing days of pregnancy support liver, cleanse blood, increase elimination and balance potassium and sodium.
This gateway can have a surreal quality. Optimally it involves a dissolution of the faculties of the rational mind so that the mammalian brain dominates. With all the enticements for the neo-cortex, women may not be practised at ‘being’ over thinking. There may be anticipatory anxiety or over-planning. The right treatment here can help a labouring woman tap into her animal birthright and clear the way for the natural opioids within her body to be released . In dark, secure surroundings, an infusion of rose petals to soften resistance and drop into a place of security and trust can help open the heart and trust the process unfolding.
Oil infusions of Arnica and Hypericum massaged into hips, sacrum, glutes and along thighs are a beautiful way to ground and help her feel secure and held, whilst releasing oxytocin and soothing nerve and muscle pain.
Some Homeopathic remedies for labour (All in 200c)
Gelsemium – stalled labour from being observed or from exhaustion
Kali Carb – pains felt in back
Nux Vomica – woman is angry and irritable
Chamomilla – woman is in a rage and pains are extreme
Pulsatilla – woman is weepy
Mag Phos – pains felt in front of uterus
The gateway of ‘transition’ at the end of dilation is arguably the most challenging. As adrenaline spikes to confer energy to the uterine muscle for the final stages of labour, contractions change quality from opening the cervix and building the fundus, into ‘plunging’ the baby out. For some this adrenaline creates extreme fear. A single dose of Aconite 1M can help shift away from internalised panic.
Homeopathic Remedies for third stage -delivery of the placenta
Homeopathic Sabina 200c may help a stubborn placenta.
Secale 200c addresses any retained tissue or dark heavy bleeding
Calendula has special affinity for birth. It’s name ‘Mary’s Gold’ making reference to the virgin Mary and denoting its sacredness as a guardian of the mother. In Hinduism also, Marigolds are associated with the sun and with the abundant pairing of Vishnu and Lakshmi. Its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and astringent properties and in conjunction with its daisy cousin Bellis Perennis in cases of bruising, a poultice can be a powerful healer, including after caesarian births.
Post Partum Infusion of Chamomile, Raspberry leaf, Crampbark, Oatstraw – great for after-pains (which worsen with each birth) contains nervines, anti-spasmodics, digestives and galactagogues. It is calcium-rich and kidney-replenishing to support the immediate post partum. Careful management in this stage can avoid maternal depletion in the coming weeks.
The first Post partum weeks are characterised by long periods of sitting where the lymphatic system can stagnate and contribute to lethargy, low mood and liver stagnation. Toasted sesame seeds on milk-inducing porridge oats help keep the digestive tract moving. A matcha paste with turmeric, ginger, powdered nettle, coconut oil, molasses or date syrup and ashwaganda added to oat milk for a deliciously nourishing, and warming post partum tonic.
Post Partum Vulval Bathing
A decoction of of Calendula, Lavender, Yarrow and Comfrey cooled and allowed to flow over the vulva and perineum brings both physical and energetic benefits. The anti microbials and allantoins help clean and heal tissues whilst the tender blessing of this ritual give thanks to the new mother and closes the energetic portal through which the new life arrived. The sensorial experience of liquid flowing here helps release the tension and trauma from the challenges of birth. Traditionally we would allow the cleansing waters to flow back to the earth but a symbolic offering serves the some purpose, representing the connection with ancestral line through the circularity of the journey of water and of human life.
The immediate post partum days can be a time of contradictory emotions. There can be bliss and overwhelm, love and anxiety. When disturbed sleep and hypervigilance create disorientation, Cocculus 30c can bring relief. The rise in Prolactin for milk production around day 3-5 can create overwhelming feelings sometimes called the ‘baby blues’. Pulsatilla 200c can help support this transition. Once again we may need to invite the new mother to come back to her body. This time her dis-embodiment maybe because all her attention is focused on her baby.
An oil infusion for post birth- aches and pains, this plant also has power on an energetic level. Where a birth is accompanied with shock, whether from a a dramatic medical event or simply a fast labour and where the mother is left disorientated and disconnected, Arnica 1M can help to ground her. In cases where the mother is in denial about the impact of her birth, Arnica brings her back to the body, to feel what needs to be healed or expressed which in turn allows the softness necessary for her to bond with her baby.
It is sometimes necessary for post partum women to address feelings of powerlessness. The most notable keynote of this homeopathic remedy is in it’s affinity for treating violation. It is excellent in the treatment of cuts – where the physical boundaries of the body have been breached. It is also often indicated when women have encountered births where they felt they were not in control, even humiliated. They may be suppressing anger that shows itself in irritable outbursts. This remedy can help women to release anger and find a healthy focus for it .
You can find out about Vicky and her offerings on her website