As someone who has had healthy pregnancies and births but then experienced complications and injury (such as postpartum hemorrhage) once the babies were born, I’ve gathered ideas after each birth in the hopes of preventing and healing from complications during this stage.
Before looking at natural interventions, take time to research physiological support and to ensure that your birth team understands how to guard the birth experience for you and your baby. This will ensure that your body is given the best chance to do what it is intended to do before, during and after birth.
Maintaining physiological birthing practices can do the most to prevent complications in the first place. For example, avoiding purple/coached pushing can prevent tearing. Moving during labor and avoiding the lithotomy position unless that’s specifically helpful to your birth situation can prevent the risk of shoulder dystocia.
Utilize positioning art such as from spinning babies.com and rebozo sifting to ensure baby is in an optimal birthing position can prevent stalled labors, tearing, shoulder dystocia and pain unrelated to contractions. After birth, keep the lights and voices low, keep your baby skin to skin and avoid placing a hat on the baby which can obscure pheromone bonding. Blowing, squatting and nipple stimulation can encourage the placenta to release and help you to birth it. Allowing baby to perform the breast crawl can keep the after birth contractions effective. If preparing for a water birth, take care to filter and de-chlorinate the water as the smells and contaminants might interrupt bonding, including breastfeeding success.
But in the event that you do foresee complications, here are some natural intervention methods.
This was my first birth researching and using essential oils. I actually found them to be the most helpful for a variety of complaints so I am listing them first. Please don’t get caught up in the name-dropping. Try a brand yourself to see what works for you. I used several brands based on my body’s response. Here are my favorite essential oils and why:
This is a potent and expensive oil but I quickly added it to my collection because it is prized for halting hemorrhage. Placing it on the lower back and reflex points before hemorrhage occurs is thought to prevent Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH).
This oil can be mixed with your favorite carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil and gently massaged onto the perineum leading up to birth. I only did this 3 times a week before birth but experienced the least injury to my perineum out of 4 births despite the same birth presentation (posterior), same head size and same fast pushing stage.
This is another potent oil prized for assisting the uterus in contracting efficiently. Especially helpful if the uterus is tired out (atonic).
This healing oil is also thought to help prevent PPH and is useful for almost any complaint after birth. I added it to a blend with clary sage and helichrysum so they could all be used right after the baby was born.
This is the primary oil for healing hemorrhoids. I blended Cypress with all of the other recommended oils to make a super hemorrhoid blend. This included geranium, clary sage, helichrysum, frankincense and peppermint. I mixed the blend into coconut oil and placed it into a tiny jar to store in the bathroom so I could use it as frequently as I rinsed with a peri bottle.
Neroli and Grapefruit
I used these for emotional support as both of them made me feel good and I love their scents. But you obvi-ously can use whatever you like and whatever energizes you and lifts your spirits. Neroli in particular is thought to help with the baby blues, too.
Since postpartum complications need swift and often strong interventions, a tincture is typically the best form for herbal application. I used 3 specific tinctures based on my PPH experiences.
You might recognize this by its other name, Dong Quai. It has many fertility-based uses but is known for being a uterine astringent. Angelica root tincture is potent and not a remedy you use “just because.” It’s thought to help women who have sticky placentas and heavily bleed while waiting for the placenta to release.
I purchased this tincture blend as a backup to Angelica. I specifically purchased it to avoid Shepherd’s Purse, since SP might cause the cervix to clamp down, which is a bad thing in situations where the placenta hasn’t yet released. It contains blue cohosh, bayberry, yarrow and capsicum.
This is another tincture blend I purchased because I was warned that afterbirth pains might be very strong with a fourth child. I used a dosage and noticed it did immediately mute the after pains. But I followed my gut instinct to just handle the pains, feeling they were important to my healing in some way. I could definitely see reaching for it before choosing OTC pain meds. It contains cramp bark, black haw bark, yarrow and motherwort.
Soothing Herbal Bath
I bought a mix, but people make their own. This one had comfrey, uva ursi, yarrow, shepherd’s purse, lavender, sage, St. John’s wort, sea salt, chamomile and echinacea in it. My husband boiled a big pot of it then poured it over disposable pads and froze them to use after birth. It can also be put it into peri bottles for rinsing or used in the bath tub.
It won’t heal a hemorrhage issue but it can halt hemorrhage for a small period of time. I consider this an emergency tool that every per-son should have in the cupboard to buy time to transfer to the hospital.
Homeopathic remedies appear to be most successful for people with great plasticity in cellular expression I’ve noticed remedies have helped me in the past so I looked into this field, too. A friend, Natalie, helped piece together some good ones for me, but be sure to talk with an experienced homeopath for an individu-alized list.
Remember that the more diluted the remedy, the stronger it’s supposed to be, so 1M potencies are what I used. You can read about some others not mentioned and their profiles here.
This is the homeopathic version of blue cohosh and is indicated for retained placenta with weak or ineffective contractions and symptoms of shaking or feeling tired and weak. It might also assist during stalled labor.
This is the homeopathic hemorrhage remedy.
This remedy assists with pain, bruising and swelling. I used a massage oil version but it’s available as tab-lets and lotions, too.
Although cell salts are a branch of homeopathy, they are actual micro-mineral supplements. These are quite helpful for a variety of issues outside birthing.
In particular, I found these to be helpful and took them frequently towards the end of pregnancy:
A cell salt thought to give strength and prevent bleeding.
A cell salt thought to support tissues (prevent tearing during birth).
A cell salt that can help with muscle cramping and pain.
Remember also to research any-thing you are supplementing frequently and to verify its influence on your pregnancy and birth. This is why I reduced my Omega 3 in-take toward the end of pregnancy.
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and was individualized to my needs, based on my previous experiences of tearing, retained placenta and PPH. So at this point you might be wondering if all of this hard work was worth it? For me, it’s a resounding yes. My fourth birth was painful, but very smooth and fast. I birthed the placenta about 10 minutes after birthing the baby and without any hemorrhaging.
Despite a very fast and uncontrolled pushing stage of a large baby, I only had a 1st degree tear that healed quickly. And happily, I have no butt complaints. I definitely feel that my proactive stand in addressing my individual needs played a part and encourage other mamas to carefully research their natural options before thinking only allopathic interventions will help with their complications.