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Natural Labour

I want my labour to be as natural as possible.

Question

I am hoping to have my next baby at home, and am planning a water birth. Can you give me any ideas about natural pain relief during labour, and are there any homoeopathic or herbal treatments that can help me, too?

Answer

I am in favour if water births. Unborn babies are used to swimming in the waters of the womb (uterus), so a similar environment gives them more comfort, and they are not put on under stress immediately after the birth. However, labour is a potentially traumatic process for the mother and the infant, so preparing for it is very important. First, you must understand that the pain is due to the contractions of the uterine muscles, as well as to the pressure in the abdominal walls and the groin as you push. Without the contraction of the muscles, the baby would not be born.

In my opinion, much of the pain comes from the position of the mother during birth. The uterus looks like an upside-down pear. If the mother is upright, the uterus doesn’t have to work so hard because gravity helps the baby to come out. Lying horizontally, on the other hand, means that the lower muscles of the uterus have to work much harder, which increases the pain. In villages in India, women harder, women squat during labour. This helps with the pain as I’ve described and labour also tends to be quick – about two hours on average.

Here are my suggestions:

    Yoga
    The most important thing you can do to manage your pain naturally is to practice yogic pranayama - the art of breathing. You can use of breath to take your mind away from the pain and to oxygenated the brain better, which improves its tolerance to pain.

  • Practise this breathing technique regularly for at least a month before you are due to have the baby. Sit in a comfortable chair – this gives the diaphragm more space to take part in respiration, as gravity powers your womb into the pelvic floor. Inhale deeply through your nose to a count of three, hold it softly (without letting your shoulders rise of getting tense), then exhale through your mouth for a count of six. Repeat this cycle for ten minutes, two or three times a day.
  • In the last three months of pregnancy, you should practice yoga exercises to prepare your body for labour, I suggest the semi-bridge, supine twist and corpse poses. Yoga – and the breathing I described above- will also help to reduce stress and clam your nervous system, which is essential. It also improves circulations, so that your energy levels will be higher. This creates the feel-good factor that is so important in pregnancy- benefiting both you and the baby. You will find more information in Therapeutic Yoga, the book I have co-written with Jiwan Brar.
  • Relaxation

  • Different people have different threshold to pain. Tolerance to pain is improved by good sleep, a relaxed mind and lack of fear or panic. As well as practicing Yoga, I suggest you listen to a relaxation tape at bedtime ( and whenever you have a moment) to encourage inner peace. Try my relaxation tape (Sanogenetic Solutions) or one of the many good tapes on the market.
  • Massage

  • Is also helpful during preganacy. Ask your partner to gently massage the lower abdomen area, a quarter of an inch above the pubic bone, using My Joint Oil or mix two drops of lavender essential oil with a tablespoon of sweet almond oil. Because your abdominal ligaments are stretched during pregnancy, there will be some tenderness. Take care that you are massaged only in that area because the lower part of the uterus is just a few inches above that and no pressure should be applied there.

AcupunctureIs the best painkiller for labour pain.

Homoeopathic and herbal remedies are also useful. The herb valerian will help you to relax during labour: try five drops three times a day (or as professionally directed). I suggested you consult a qualified acupuncturist or homoeopathic practitioner.

Finally, a simple remedy: hold a freahly cut lime during labour and smell when you have contractions.

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