Complementary therapies are increasingly being used during pregnancy and childbirth, both by expectant mothers who purchase natural remedies such as aromatherapy oils, herbal, homeopathic and Bach flower remedies from health stores, and by professionals, especially midwives and doulas, to enhance the care they provide. However, it is vital to appreciate that, just because these therapies are ‘natural’ they are not automatically also ‘safe’ – they must be used appropriately and accurately. If you have any doubts about either the safety or effectiveness of any complementary therapy treatments you may be having, or about natural remedies you are taking, it is wise to seek professional advice.
Homeopathy is an energy-based system of complementary medicine in which minute doses of various substances are used to treat conditions whereas, if the same substances were given in large quantities, they would actually cause the same symptoms (often referred to as ‘treating like with like’). The remedy must be matched precisely to the full set of symptoms of each individual. There is little direct research on homeopathy in pregnancy but many women have used it successfully to ease pregnancy symptoms and to help them through labor and early parenthood, although it is wise to consult a qualified practitioner for the most appropriate treatment.
Homeopathic remedies do not work in the same way as drugs and will not interfere with them, although some medicines, such as certain strong antibiotics, can prevent the homeopathic remedies from working effectively. It is important to select the most appropriate remedy as incorrect use can trigger new symptoms, whilst failing to treat your original symptoms. Choose a remedy which best suits your particular symptoms and try it for five days. If you have had no response at all after five days, it is probably the wrong remedy and you should not take it any longer, as occasionally it may actually cause new symptoms to develop, making you feel even worse. You may experience a ‘healing crisis’ when you first start taking the remedy, in which you get a temporary worsening of your symptoms; this often indicates that you have chosen the correct remedy and the feeling should pass within 24 hours, after which time you should start to feel better.
Avoid eating, drinking or smoking for about 15 minutes before and after taking each remedy and change your toothpaste to a fruit-flavored one whilst you are taking the remedies as some do not work when you use mint-flavored paste. You should also limit the amount of coffee you drink (a good idea in pregnancy anyway), as this can stop some of the remedies from working effectively. If you are taking any medications, especially some painkillers, antibiotics, antacids, tablets for a fungal infection or blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants), you may find that the homeopathic remedy does not relieve your symptoms.
In most shops you will find the remedies available in two strengths – 6C and 30C – the 30C strength is likely to be more effective. You should try taking one tablet, under your tongue, every two or three hours. Stronger doses, such as 200C, are usually only available from specialist homeopathic pharmacies. Tip them directly into the lid of the bottle and then into your mouth, or onto your clean hand. Do not put them onto a metal spoon or let other people handle them, as the tablets may not work. You may need to change your remedy as your symptoms change.
Arnica is a commonly-used homeopathic remedy to treat bruising, shock and trauma, especially painful stitches, after your baby’s birth. Take one 30C strength tablet as soon as possible after the birth, then one tablet three times daily for three days, then stop. Arnica cream is useful if your buttocks are bruised but should not be applied directly over the stitches.