Homoepathy for Pregnancy and Childbirth: An Introduction

Homeopath Abi Briant-Smith came to Bradford Choices last Tuesday and kindly wrote up her talk so everyone can enjoy her introduction to homeopathy for childbirth.  Here it is:

It was great to meet up with the group last Tuesday. We covered quite a lot of information so here’s a summary of what we covered with some links to useful online resources.

Homeopathy is a 200 year old system of medicine that uses highly dilute substances to trigger the body’s own healing process. It is based on the principle of “like cures like”, so a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if it was taken in large amounts.

Homeopathy is used by over 200 million people worldwide, with around 6 million users in the UK. It is evidence based and is safe to use for babies, during pregnancy and whilst breast feeding.

During pregnancy is a great time to discover the benefits of homeopathy. Anxiety, irregular contractions, labour pains, exhaustion and post birth healing are just some of the issues that women use homeopathy for during and after their labour.

As homeopathy is a holistic form of medicine the best results are experienced when a remedy matches what the person is experiencing both emotionally and physically. If using remedies during labour I would recommend a birth partner gets involved as a labouring mum to be will be too busy to think about which remedy she might need!

In terms of taking a remedy – find one that best matches the symptoms, take one remedy and notice what happens. If symptoms have improved or are still improving don’t repeat the remedy. If the same symptoms as before start to return another dose of the same remedy can be given. If new or symptoms start to appear a different remedy may be needed that matches the new symptoms. Some remedies may need to be repeated frequently and symptoms may change as labour progresses so a change in remedy may be needed at different stages. For long term or recurring symptoms I would recommend seeking advice from a qualified homeopath. Expert medical advice should always be sought in serious situations or if complications arise.

My top recommendation would be to have Arnica as part of a childbirth kit as most women will benefit from a dose of Arnica after giving birth. It can really help relieve sore muscles, swelling, bruising and after pains, particularly when the abdomen/womb feels really achey.

Arnica 30c is available from many pharmacies and health food shops. I recommend taking 1 dose of Arnica 30c three times a day over 3 days, or 1 dose of Arnica 200c each day for 3 days. This remedy can also be crushed and given to the baby if labour was long, they are bruised or have had forceps delivery.

If you would like more information about using homeopathy during childbirth I run childbirth consultations for expectant mums and their birth partner. I also run workshops for doulas and midwives. Please get in touch if you would like more details.

The link below covers some of the remedies commonly during labour:


For other issues such as morning sickness, haemorrhoids, constipation and post-natal care the link below has some useful remedy suggestions:


Abi Briant-Smith RSHom


Facebook: Abi Briant-Smith Homeopath

07970 067049

You have the right to choose where you give birth!

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at the NCT shared this with me recently after a case where a GP was apparently choosing the place of birth for the women in their care!

“It was confirmed in Parliament this year that Maternity Matters™ (2007) remains maternity policy for the current government. It says:

The national choice guarantees four national choice guarantees will be available to all women and their partners. By having these guarantees, women and their partners are given the opportunity to make informed choices throughout pregnancy, birth and during the postnatal period:

  1. Choice of how to access maternity care. When they first learn that they are pregnant, women and their partners will be able to go straight to a midwife if they wish, or to their General Practitioner. Self-referral into the local midwifery service is a choice that will speed up and enable earlier access to maternity services.
  2. Choice of type of antenatal care. Depending on their circumstances, women and their partners will be able to choose between midwifery care or care provided by a team of maternity health professionals including midwives and obstetricians. For some women, team care will be the safest option.
  3. Choice of place of birth. Depending on their circumstances, women and their partners will be able to choose where they wish to give birth. In making their decision, women will need to understand that their choice of place of birth will affect the choice of pain relief available to them. For example, epidural anaesthesia will only be available in hospitals where there is a 24 hour obstetric anaesthetic service.

The options for place of birth are:

  • birth supported by a midwife at home
  • birth supported by a midwife in a local midwifery facility such as a designated local midwifery unit or birth centre. The unit might be based in the community, or in a hospital; patterns of care vary across the country to reflect different local needs. These units promote a philosophy of normal and natural labour and childbirth. Women will be able to choose any other available midwifery unit in England.
  • birth supported by a maternity team in a hospital. The team may include midwives, obstetricians, paediatricians and anaesthetists. For some women, this type of care will be the safest option but they too should have a choice of hospital. All women will be able to choose any available hospital in England.”

If you have to stand up to get your rights respected, there’s also a Birthrights fact sheet that might help you prove your point.

Making Scents of Aromatherapy

Whilst looking for something else (!) I stumbled across these two indepth articles on Aromatherapy for childbirth written for the choices mailing by our ace Aromatherapist SaRah Deacon.  I thought they were well worth dusting off and putting out there. So get our your reading glasses and brew yourself a cuppa and read on!

Aromatherapy in Pregnancy and Labour

By SaRah Deacon member of The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA)

The History:

7th century an English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper laid the foundations for modern day aromatherapy, he recorded therapeutic properties of the oils.

 How Modern Aromatherapy Began in the West

In July 1910 Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was a French chemist whose father owned a perfume business.  While working in the lab he badly burnt his hand and plunged it into a container of Lavender essential oil.  He found the burn healed quickly with no blistering or scarring.  He went on to use essential oils for treatment on soldiers in military hospitals during the 1st World War.  During the 2nd World War Dr Jean Valnet an army surgeon used essential oils with great success as antiseptics in the treatment of war wounds.

 Then in the 1950’s Marguerite Maury a French biochemist and beautician who did not want to advise people to ingest the oils but to apply then externally set up an Aromatherapy clinic in London teaching therapists how to use pre-blended oils with massage…  She emphasised the importance of essential oils as psychotherapeutic substances capable of bringing about change in one’s mood.  Micheline Arcier was an early advocate of holistic well-being – developing exclusive products and signature aromatherapy massage techniques that treated each client as a complex but complete individual, which is still being used today.

 Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, carrier oils and hydrolats, through contact with the skin and inhalation.  These oils are extracted from different parts of fruits, flowers, herbs and trees which all have different therapeutic properties.

 Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy that treats the whole person, mind, body and spirit to induce a state of balance and harmony, stimulating the body’s own potential to heal both physically and emotionally.

 The oils you use should be selected not only for your physical needs, but also for emotional needs. Also use essential oils that you like the smell of, not just for the properties they have and always purchase essential oils from a reputable company, preferably one that is a member of an aromatherapy trade association as only essential oils of the highest quality and purity should be used.

 The way an Aromatherapist may work:

After a detailed consultation is completed you will be asked to undress, while the blend is being mixed for your massage.  Some therapists have the mother to be lying on one side on a couch, or straddled on a chair the wrong way round or the best is if you lean over a couch with pillows whilst sat on a stool.  The treatments tend to be short and for specific areas.

 After a treatment you may feel wonderful, full of energy and a great feeling of wellbeing or you may experience some temporary mild discomfort, such as mild cold symptoms, tiredness, heightened emotions, headache, increased urination, bowel movements or aches and pains over problem areas. All of these are nothing to be concerned about as these reactions are due to the body’s own healing and elimination process and generally pass very quickly.

 Benefits of Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Birth

 Essential oils should not be used on the skin prior to 14 weeks of pregnancy but some can be inhaled, such as Mandarin to help relieve morning sickness.  There are certain oils that should be avoided in pregnancy, yet some of these are very useful in labour, so please check with an aromatherapist to see which oils to use and when.  Essential oils are extremely volatile and should always be diluted and blended with a carrier of some kind.  Carrier means to carry the essential oil into the skin.  The carrier oils also lubricate the skin, making it easier to massage

During pregnancy aromatherapy can help with things such as morning sickness, aching legs, haemorrhoids and nose bleeds.  To prevent perineum tears, massage the area with vegetable or seed oil from 4 – 6 weeks before the expected date of delivery.  Have a warm bath first to soften the tissue.

 Some of the benefits of using essential oils in labour are that they promote relaxation, reduce pain and tension, helps with anxiety, fear and shock, aids the progress of labour,.  They can be used to increase uterine contractions (Clary sage) or be used to slow them down (Chamomile) and help with the 3rd stage of labour.  New mums have said (at Nottingham City Hospital) that they liked using aromatherapy as it helped them to relax and feel in control of their pain during labour.  Also the essential oils will affect everyone in the delivery room, so birth partners may benefit from inhaling Lavender to keep them calm and relaxed

 Due to your hormones your sense of smell changes throughout pregnancy, so it is best to wait till around 36 weeks before picking the blend you would like for labour, as you want to like the aroma so you associate the experience with a nice aroma.  So you are best to pick the oils for the aroma as well as for the properties that they have.  You can use a single oil or up to 3 oils blended together, some oils such as Lavender are good for labour and postnatal as they are analgesic and very good at healing.  It is also great to keep after in your kitchen cupboard it can be applied neat in small quantities to burns (once run under cold water) and insect bites and stings

 Massage is extremely effective in supporting labour and relieving discomfort in pregnancy and labour as it stimulates the release of endorphins the body’s natural pain killers.  It relieves tension and just being touched is reassuring.  However, some women do not like to be touched during labour especially during the transition phase of during contractions (So partners do not be offended if you are pushed away!). Whereas other women may want continual massage.  These reactions may change through the different stages in labour.  The birth partner needs to be aware of these different reactions and respond accordingly.

 After the birth essential oils are excellent in helping postnatal recovery, especially when there have been episiotomies, tears or stitches.  It is also used to help stem bleeding and for haemorroids.  Aromatherapy helps rebalance hormones and is helpful with engorged breasts, relaxation, baby blues and post natal depression.  Nice to have a bit of “me time”.

 Essential oils should be treated with respect.  Just because they are natural does not automatically mean they are safe, especially in pregnancy

 If you would like anymore information please do not hesitate to contact me


01274 577295

Birth as a Human rights issue: Conference notes

The Midwifery Today Conference was a breath of fresh air, inspirational and challenging. 

 Here are some highlights from my notes.  First of all Birth as a Human Rights issue:

The discourse on human rights is relatively new ( as opposed to the rights of landowners, kings and oligarchies)

We are just catching on that Birth is human rights issues

19 years ago Maternal Mortality was included in the Millennium goals.

And since then the development of the understanding of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity as a pressing human rights issue.

The UN Human Rights commission is now saying re maternity:  No customs, traditions and practices can be involved that do violence to women.

There is a link between money (for instance, where birth is big business for doctors and hospitals) and fear of what may happen at birth.

Robbie Davis-Floyd: says: Birth is not something women just do, it is something we actively choose to do.

The force of law cannot be used to take away options [for how and where we give birth and with whom] sic

Several organizations now working on birth as a human rights issue:

Hospitals can work to achieve the 10 Steps as a means of providing optimal MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI) originated from the work of the International Committee of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). The inspiration and foundation for the IMBCI is based on the philosophy and principles of CIMS, a coalition dedicated to promoting a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs, and to supporting new global efforts to improve the health of women and babies. CIMS is a life-long partner in support of the mission of IMBCO.

The International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO) was created in partnership with Childbirth Connection, a U.S. based not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care for all women and their families.  See previous blog post for the mother/baby rights in full.

  • The White Ribbon Alliance campaigns against violence against women.  a whole arm of this campaign is about dignity and respect and good care in pregnancy and childbirth. cf their website for stories  and campaigns happening around the world.  Join the alliance to be part of change happening.  Some excellent videos and some shocking stories too.   http://whiteribbonalliance.org/campaigns/

 The talk ended with singing and dancing!

 Birth truly is a human rights issue!  And we can be part of making change happen.  These websites and organisations show that if we do, we join thousands of women and men around the world who are working towards the same goals.  We may feel that our part is small and parochial but be clear our actions are part of a global movement that we can also join and which makes our actions larger than the sum of the whole.  Inspirational and challenging!