Whether you’re planning for a home birth, or you’re delivering with a doctor at a hospital, there are natural healing methods to help you recover from labor. Herbs have a solid place in history for their powerful medicinal attributes. Essential oils have also been around for some time, though they’re only now making their presence into the mainstream. Then there are gemstones. They get passed off as some “crazy hippie thing,” but they’re carriers of some powerful high frequency energies. All three of these healing options have a long and reputable history amongst traditional healers, and they’re all worth looking into.
As a 30’ish mother of four, I know a thing or two about labor. And as an “aspiring shaman,” I’ve also tested these things out for myself. Thus, I’ll now share labor’s most common complaints and the healing mediums that can address them.
Labor gets its reputation from the hell some mothers know as “contractions.” We’d be wiser to embrace them as they’re what bring our babies from womb to world, but that’s easier said than done once in the throes of labor. It’s especially challenging once labor is over, because contractions don’t stop once baby has been delivered. The uterus started the size of an orange, and now it’s as large as a watermelon. Contractions following birth aid in bringing it back down to size, but they also play an important role in releasing the placenta and closing off opened blood vessels. So, as unpleasant as they may be, they’re quite helpful.
Herbs: Porter Shimer, author of Healing Secrets Of The Native Americans, says that Black haw was used by Native Americans to treat PMS cramps as well as contractions from miscarriage. Red raspberry leaf and squaw vine were also used to treat uterine pains.
Essential Oils: Herbalists and aromatherapists Kathi Keville and Mindy Green suggest treating menstrual cramps with a combination of lavender, marjoram, chamomile or clary sage, and geranium, which can be applied topically with a carrier oil. I personally used lavender, clary sage, and peppermint (though peppermint may inhibit milk production, so excessive or prolonged use is discouraged). Pair essential oils with a rice heat pack to further improve circulation and relief of pain.
Gemstones: Precious stones like amethyst, chrysocolla, black onyx, moss agate, and unakite, are said to ease labor and relieve birthing pains. Many midwives and doulas actually use them within their practice. Gemstones can often be very expensive, running into the thousands of dollars. We highly suggest using a courier such as Shiply to transport these rather than the domestic postal service. Visit the shiply website to find out more.
Note: As a mother of four, I advocate natural birthing but I also take the stance that nursing and bonding should be priority one. Thus, I support mothers in taking ibuprofen so they may bask in motherhood rather than grimace in pain. Studies have shown that babies receive less ibuprofen through breastmilk then they would actually be prescribed, so taking ibuprofen as directed may be as safe as it is relieving. However, not all medications are created equally, and those containing codeine — ie. Tylenol 3 and 4 — should be used with caution. Codeine is converted into morphine in the body, and some mothers produce more morphine per dose. Because of this, regular or prolonged use — even as recommended — is a no-no for breastfeeding mothers.
Blood can be a problem before birth even starts. Pregnancy causes a drastic increase in blood volume, but at the same time, this increase in fluids can dilute the concentration of red blood cells. When a pregnant woman doesn’t get the amount of iron she needs to up blood supply, the body isn’t able to transport oxygen where it’s needed (baby included), and so an array of problems can arise. The complications that can arise during childbirth can make blood even more of a problem. Luckily, there are alternatives which can help circulatory problems and iron absorption.
Herbs: Kathi Keville — author and director of the American Herb Association — suggests slowing postpartum bleeding with teas or tinctures made from shepherd’s purse or yarrow, or taking capsules of cayenne powder (just make sure to take it with liquid or food as the spice isn’t welcomed by empty stomachs). When it comes to raising iron levels, Keville swears by yellow dock. She notes that burdock root, wild yam, anise, cumin, dandelion root, and caraway can aid in this cause too.
Rosita Arvigo — a healer trained by renowned Maya shaman Don Elijio Panti — uses a tea of hibiscus and cinnamon to stop excessive bleeding after delivery. Regardless of blood loss, day 3 following delivery would be followed with a Mayan uterine massage to promote circulation and healing with proper alignment.
Essential Oils: Basil, Indian spikenard, and cinnamon are Ayurvedic treatments for low blood pressure, while rosemary is also turned to for hypotension. They won’t actually replenish the blood supply, but inhaling these volatile oils may help address the symptoms and problems associated with blood loss.
Gemstones: According to crystal expert Judy Hall, Hematite can aid circulation and improve the body’s production of red blood cells while helping the body absorb iron.
The mental energy that goes into labor can be exhausting in itself. Add in hours of walking, squatting, and pushing, and you’ll be feeling like your body and mind ran a marathon (and one with extra surprise laps). Help offset this by keeping blood sugar levels balanced. Natural sugars will offer a spike in energy, and if complex carbs are included then energy levels can sustain without a sudden drop.
Electrolytes are another great help with banishing fatigue. During labor, the body’s busy focusing on things other than thirst, so heavy sweating plus blood and fluid loss has new mama’s running low on vital micronutrients like magnesium and calcium. Coconut water comes loaded with such electrolytes, and it comes with a bonus of natural sugars that provide quick and drinkable energy. Mamas thirsty for fresh-squeezed electrolytes rather than packaged ones even have an option thanks to recipes for homemade electrolyte drinks from Claire at Everyday Roots.
Herbs: They’re are plenty of energy-boosting herbs out there, but breastfeeding puts limits on natural options. Health and fitness writer Porter Shimer suggests using ginger and/or peppermint as the Native Americans did. They’re able to boost the body’s metabolism while raising energy levels, and they won’t have a negative impact on baby.
Essential Oils: Studies on brain wave patterns have shown that essential oil of peppermint, clove, basil, ylang-ylang, black pepper, cinnamon, and jasmine are able to initiate and sustain alertness. Other studies have shown that the simple presence of a floral aroma improved the speed and overall performance of participants math tests.
Gemstones: Ametrine, Apatite, Dioptase, Herkimer Diamond, and Iron Pyrite are all powerful energizers. Wearing them is one sure way to help boost energy levels, but non-toxic stones can also be steeped in water can be used to make a crystal elixir that’s infused with the stones energizing vibrations.
Healing Down There
You don’t have to be a doctor to know birth is gonna get uncomfortable. Yet while we expect pains during labor, most of us have absolutely no idea of the agony that awaits us afterwards. Passing a 6-10 lb mass wreaks havoc on the ole birth canal, and the atrocities the vagina has suffered don’t become clear until you’re begging for pain killers to dull the throbbing pain of a swollen “downstairs.” And that’s without tearing!
Herbs: Herbalist Kathi Keville recommends taking sitz baths with calendula, comfrey, chamomile, and rosemary to promote healing and ease discomfort. Coupling these herbs with sitz baths that have you hopping from a hot tub to a cold tub can also promote healing and pain relief by improving circulation.
Essential Oils: If you don’t want your downstairs to feel (and look) like it lost a fight to Mike Tyson, then you’ll need to load up on nature’s anti-inflammatories. I swear by the powers of lavender essential oil. It’s puts up a heck of a fight against swelling, and it speeds up the healing process by soothing wounds and inhibiting bacterial growth. Essential oil of roman chamomile and helichrysum are other powerful bottles to pack in your birth kit, though lavender comes with a lower price tag.
While you’re stocking up on essential oils for pain and inflammation, you should know that much of these same oils can also be used to reduce and improve stretch marks. My last two pregnancies, my old stretch marks were fading at a time I should have been getting new ones. Find a quality oil company and you’ll see just how well they work!
Gemstones: Amber, Fluorite, Mookaite (Australian Jasper), Rhodonite, and Blue-Green Smithsonite array the body in various ways, but they all have one thing in common — they’re powerful healers.
Now that these healing options have been presented to you, run them by your birthing practitioner so they can share their knowledge and insights. Every body is different, and science is discovering new ideas every single day, so it’s always smart to get your provider’s opinion on safety, possible implications, dosage, and the best regimen to follow. After all, you and your baby deserve but the very best of the best.
Sources for this article include:
Body Changes After Childbirth – Baby Center
20 DIY Home Remedies For Low Blood Pressure – Home Remedies For Life
What Are Micronutrients? – IV Boost
Love Lavender? Try Lavender Oil – Dr. Mercola
Herbs For Health And Healing – Kathi Keville
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide To The Healing Art – Kathi Keville and Mindy Green
Healing Secrets Of The Native Americans – Porter Shimer