Menopause: the change – not the end

At any one time millions of British women are experiencing menopausal symptoms such as: disturbed sleep, hot flushes, night sweats, joint aches and pains, loss of libido, irritability, aching muscles and joints, confusion, poor memory and concentration, vaginal dryness, headaches, depression and anxiety.

The menopause can hit at any time around 50 but some women have it later or in their 30s or even earlier. It can also cause long-term problems making women more susceptible to brittle bones or osteoporosis and heart disease.

Sounds dreadful – but it needn‘t be!  Read: Coping with menopausal symptoms

First of all – the Perimenopause

What is less known about is the perimenopause. Women in their 40s are constantly complaining that they forget everything, that they can’t sleep well, that they feel irritable or anxious but then they say ‘It can’t be the menopause because I’m still having periods and (groan) I’m not old enough yet’.

But the perimenopause can run for at least ten years before periods gradually slow down and stop.  It is due to a drop in oestrogen and changes in ovarian function preceding the menopause.  Symptoms include:

• Poor concentration
• Menstrual irregularity
• Heavier periods
• Hot flushes
• Mood swings
• Anxiety and irritability
• Tiredness

Sounds just like the menopause.  Because the symptoms are the same doctors are likely to prescribe HRT, but similarly all the natural alternatives that work for the menopause can help to relieve perimenopause too, so read on.

Treating the menopause

Sebastian Pole of Ayurvedic specialists, Pukka Herbs, says:

Women’s health issues are often treated with Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT),  anti-depressants or surgery. Ayurveda thinks that women’s health should be treated holistically and without synthetic hormones.

For example, the recent 2003 Lancet report of the ‘million women study’ showing that 20,000 extra cases of breast cancer had been caused by using HRT says it all. Menopause is not a disease, it is a transition, and the risks associated with invasive treatment outweigh the benefits.

The majority of women do not need invasive hormone ‘replacement’. Whatever stage of life you are in you may need some help with including some additional healthy living habits. Most of us do!

Getting to the heart of the problem

Ayurveda offers the potential for true healing to occur. And this is because it addresses the ‘heart’ of health, which is spiritual, mental and physical well-being. Ayurveda will treat every person on a multi-dimensional level and, generally speaking, I would recommend that for women to attain the best health you should:
• Take a daily multi-vitamin (from a wholefood source)
• Eat at least 50g of phyto-oestrogens a day – linseeds, lentils and soya products.
• Eat an array of multi-coloured vegetables and lots of whole grains. These contain cellular protective, heart and bone strengthening nutrients.
• Eat cold-pressed organic oils; hemp seed is my favourite as it contains a blueprint of the body’s essential fatty needs. These omega oils protect your heart, brain, joints and nervous system.
• Stop eating salads. They may contain more nutrients but they are poorly assimilated, weaken digestion and can cause weight gain!
• Eat cooked food. The cooker has ‘pre-digested’ the food making it more available for you.
• Take Aloe Vera juice with Shatavari capsules – it is well renowned for rejuvenating women’s health. Shatavari is one of those miraculous plants that really helps boost women’s health; it balances hormones, improves the flow of breast milk, improves fertility, improves libido and stops hot flushes.
• Take Ashwagandha. This is another wonderful herb that helps to settle your nervous system, give a good sleep and give you more energy. Herbs work in these multi-faceted ways because many of them help the body to respond. They are not a ‘replacement’ they are ‘food’.
• Perhaps most importantly, have a regular oil massage. You can give this to yourself, or receive it from your partner or see an expert. It is fantastic for your immunity, skin quality and for removing excess fluids. And it’s a treat.

Sebastian Pole is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Herbal Director of Pukka Herbs which offers 100% organic Ayurvedic remedies and teas, produced to high ethical standards, from herbs grown by farmers who are paid a fair wage. For more information, see or ring 0117 9640944 . Sebastian’s clinic is on 01225 466944,

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Why not  take HRT?

You only have to follow the headlines to know that there have been a lot of scares for the 2 million or so women who take HRT in Britain:

  • In recent years many women who swore by HRT and its miracle cures have come off it because of a host of scares particularly concerning increased risk of breast cancer, strokes, blood clots and Alzheimers.
  • There has been definitive research that showed that the incidence of breast cancer was increased with users of HRT, and now it has been found that 1,300 women in Britain died from ovarian cancer in the 14 years between 1991 and 2005 because they were using the drug.
  • Recent research has questioned the claim that HRT protects against heart disease and osteoporosis – studies have shown that any increase in bone mass is lost when women come off HRT.
  • Two-thirds of women stop taking it in the first year because of the side-effects.

One of the worst disadvantages of HRT is that if you come off it suddenly you may see a robust return to hot flushes, night sweats and other symptoms. It is important to seek help from your doctor or other professional in women’s health to structure the cessation of HRT.

The Natural Health Advisory Service  (NHAS) advises:

  • A diet high in phytoestrogens: soy, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, linseeds, and Red Clover supplements, to ease hot flushes, create new bone, provide protection from heart disease and improve memory and brain function;
  • Cutting out caffeine, spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol which all aggravate hot flushes;
  • Avoiding tea, wheat and bran which contain tannin and prevent nutrients being absorbed.

Maryon Stewart, author and founder of the NHAS,  says:

‘Our research indicates that many women of childbearing age are low in levels of magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids and chromium. By the time they get to the menopause, if they haven‘t learnt to meet their body‘s nutritional needs it is impossible for the brain chemicals and hormones to cope.‘

Michael Dooley, Consultant Gynaecologist, Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester and Lister Hospital, Chelsea, London, says, ‘What works for women best are simple natural methods, positive attitude, feeling good and hopeful about themselves, a support network of family and friends, a phytoestrogen rich diet, physical activity, reducing stress and anxiety and relaxing’.

Maryon Stewart warns, ‘It is important that women shouldn‘t read bad publicity and come off HRT suddenly without finding a non-drug alternative before they do’.

Hysterectomies: are they really necessary?

By the time they reach 60 one fifth of British women have had their womb removed, but according to recent research 75 per cent of hysterectomies could be unnecessary.

  • In the year 2000 to 2001 there were 62,391 hysterectomies performed on the NHS with plenty more in the private sector.

Maryon Stewart, author and founder of the Natural Health Advisory Service, believes the percentage of unnecessary hysterectomies to be even higher.

‘I have treated thousands of women nutritionally whose wombs were removed without a valid medical reason.

‘Many who have problems with their uterus are not informed about what surgery involves and are told afterwards that their ovaries have been removed as well, triggering early menopause, loss of libido, and increased risk of osteoporosis. They often become a shadow of their former self without any warning.

‘It’s so final that it’s an atrocity. Obviously if someone has cancer it is necessary, but for the vast majority of people this isn’t the case.

CASE STUDY: Early hysterectomy

Fortunately for Rosanna Haslam, 35 year old events organiser of Marden, Kent, she had her two children early. At the age of 30 the only solution she was offered to relieve her heavy bleeding during and between her periods, was to have a hysterectomy. ‘At the time I just wanted to get rid of the problem so I went ahead with the operation.

For the first three years it was marvellous, but then in my early 30s I started having dreadful menopausal symptoms – hot flushes, sore breasts, itchy skin, clumsiness, and depression. Fortunately I went to the Natural Health Advisory Service and went on a stringent diet, so I got through the menopause and now I’m fine.

‘But I can’t help feeling that it aged me having such an early menopause. My body felt older than it should have done. When I met Maryon Stewart I realised there were alternatives to a hysterectomy but I hadn’t been told about them.’

THE ALTERNATIVES: Endometrial ablation

Dr Mike Maresh of the St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children in Manchester led the research which found that three-quarters of hysterectomies were unnecessary. His team looked at 37,298 hysterectomies carried out between 1994 and 1995.

Half of the women were suffering from heavy periods and for these women Dr Maresh believes that the alternative lies in endometrial ablation, where the lining of the womb is removed, but not the womb itself.

  • More than 10,000 endometrial ablations are performed each year;
  • Afterwards periods are reduced or completely stopped, so it is not suitable for women who still want children.
  • It takes just 30 minutes, women frequently go home the same night, can be back at work in 48 hours and suffer few complications.

Hysterectomy, however, is a major operation: 

  • It entails a four to six day hospital stay;
  • About six to 12 weeks’ recovery time;
  • It brings on menopause, can induce depression and puts an end to having children.
  • Nor is the operation without risks – 14 women died in the space of six weeks during the period researched by Dr Maresh.

THE ALTERNATIVES: Uterine artery embolisation

  • About 30,000 of the hysterectomies performed every year are believed to be due to fibroids which often cause heavy bleeding as well;
  • A third of women develop fibroids that are not dangerous but can bleed or cause discomfort if they get too large.

For women with fibroids who want to remain fertile, Dr Woodruff Walker, Consultant Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist at the Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford, Surrey, believes that uterine artery embolisation is the answer.

This method involves injecting fibroids with a solution which makes them shrink. The operation takes about one hour, and requires two nights in hospital and two to three weeks recuperating.

CASE STUDY: Uterine Artery Embolisation

Beth Colbourne, 32, a policewoman from Northwich, Cheshire, used to bleed almost all the time. ‘I had a car accident and there was no proven link but afterwards I started bleeding for 28 out of every 30 days. The bleeding was so heavy I used a packet of tampons a day and towels at night which I had to keep changing, but I wasn’t in pain’

Her gynaecologist told Beth that she had fibroids at the back of her womb, and put her on ‘Zoladex’, a drug which stops everything functioning, shrinks the fibroids but also brings on early menopause. ‘I was on 1,000 mg of iron a day because I was so anaemic and in the summer of 1998 I had three blood transfusions.

‘Eventually the gynaecologist decided the drugs weren’t working. He was concerned that they would make me infertile and that I might end up having a hysterectomy.’

Beth went to see Dr Woodruff Walker at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford who carried out a uterine artery embolisation under local anaesthetic, ‘The pain was excruciating but I stopped bleeding straight away, and four weeks later I had a period and became quite regular again.’ Nearly two years after the operation Beth and her partner, Conroy, had a little girl called Adassa.

Nutritional changes can help

A number of the women Maryon Stewart sees at the NHAS have been told that they need a hysterectomy usually because of heavy bleeding and/or fibroids.

‘Initially we reassure them that they are not alone and their condition is treatable and that we expect them to be symptom free in just four months,’ Maryon explains. 

Maryon’s recommendations include:

  • A diet free of caffeine and sugar;
  • A maximum of three units of alcohol a week;
  • Three square meals a day with two non-sugary snacks in between;
  • Lots of herbal tea and water;
  • Multi-vitamins specially designed to put back the nutrients which have been lost.

‘Women with heavy periods have abnormal hormone function which is improved by fish oils and the herbs, Agnus Castus and Red Clover.’ Maryon Stewart.

CASE STUDY: Nutrition

Mother of two, 39 year old Lorraine Kirkpatrick, a partner in a heating firm, from Darvel, East Ayrshire, had been told by her doctor and gynaecologist that she should have a hysterectomy. ‘After I was sterilised three years ago I started to flood for five days during each period. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything, I had to wear both tampons and towels and change them every hour. Each time I was going away on holiday I went to the GP and was given some tablets, Noretsisterone, to stop my period while I was away.

‘However the tablets made me seriously depressed and my GP tried to insist on giving me anti-depressants and told me she had referred me for a hysterectomy, neither of which I wanted. ‘In desperation I phoned Maryon Stewart at the Natural Health Advisory Service. She reassured me that I could get through this with the right diet and regular exercise, and she sent me five health supplements straight away.

‘She suggested that I cut out wheat, oats, rye and barley, but that I have plenty of milk and yoghurt, fruit, vegetables and soups, chicken, rice and baked potatoes. I drank decaffeinated coffee and water, and only the occasional glass of alcohol.

‘On my visit to the gynaecologist, I was given three options – a three monthly injection, an endometrial ablation or a hysterectomy. He didn’t accept no for an answer, but my husband and I felt I was doing so well on the diet that I would continue with it. ‘After six months the difference was amazing. My periods had lightened up, although two days are still quite heavy there is no flooding and I feel well and happy.’

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Natural Health Advisory Service Ltd, 01273 487366,

CASE STUDY: Chinese herbal medicine

After several years of painful periods and various health problems Rizwana Ansari, a 36 year old single student from Ilford, Essex, decided to try Chinese medicine. ‘I had seen 10 doctors including endocronologists and gynaecologists who had discovered I had an underactive thyroid, endometriosis, where the lining of the womb breaks away, and fibroids.

‘The fibroids made my periods incredibly painful so I was put on the pill to help me.Unfortunately I had terrible side-effects with dizziness and vomiting and numbness in my arm, and even when I’d taken myself off the pill I got deep vein thrombosis on a flight.

‘The Chinese doctor at the Chi Centre in London told me that I had too much oestrogen in my system, so the pill that  provides oestrogen was feeding the problem. She took both my pulses, looked at my tongue and took a very detailed medical history. She gave me a variety of herbs to take home and boil up daily into a tea which I had to drink twice a day.

‘After three weeks of drinking the herbs I went to see the gynaecologist who checked my hormones and found they were completely normal. I requested a second scan and found that my fibroids had become much smaller. Now I have about three bad periods a year where the pain lasts for a couple of days, but the rest of the time they aren’t very painful.’

Could it be candida?

According to nutritionist, Ann Rowland, ‘One hundred and fifty years ago the average amount of sugar we ate was seven pounds a year – now it’s 120lbs. As some people don’t eat it at all others are overdosing on it.’

Take a look at these symptoms and see if they seem familiar:
  • Thrush
  • Stomach bloating, wind, pain
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Tiredness, fatigue and lethargy
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Muscle aches
  • Food intolerances
  • Frequent colds, coughs and sinusitis
  • Intolerance of alcohol
  • Frequent urinary infections
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of libido
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Bad breath
  • Intolerance to strong odours like cigarette smoke and perfume
  • Symptoms worse on damp days
You could have candida – a yeast infection which is most commonly known to cause thrush, just one of its many symptoms.  See also: Thrush – how to cope

Sometimes a visit to the doctor’s doesn’t yield any results – you could be told there’s nothing wrong with you but surely you know your own body!

Friendly bacteria

Most TV watchers might have heard of these by now! Our gut is full of both ‘friendly’ and ‘hostile’ bacteria battling it out to take a hold on the territory.

Unfortunately if we are stressed, run down, drink too much alcohol, and particularly if we have taken too many antibiotics or steroids the hostile bacteria seem to win. And because animals are regularly fed with antibiotics it’s possible to get them in meat as well (see Nutrition, You Are What You Eat).

We all have Candida albicans yeast in the colon but if it gets out of control it takes over, leading to leaky gut and the yeast seeps into the bloodstream where it affects our immune system.

  • Candida in the gut feeds on sugars producing ethanol and carbon dioxide;
  • The production of gases causes bloating, flatulence and pain;
  • It is often diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome with no particular conventional treatment available.
  • Sugar encourages the fermentation process which causes stomach bloating and pain.

Who to consult

The symptoms are difficult to diagnose and may be confused with PMS or the menopause – there are many similarities. Medical tests may not prove anything conclusive so who do you talk to?

You can try to see a nutritionist: British Association of Nutritional Therapists, or The Institute of Optimum Nutrition: 

Or a naturopath: The General Council and Register of Naturopaths is on 01458 840072

For more information contact: The Candida Society which has helped 4,000 people so far!

How to detect candida

Some practitioners, like Rosalind Blackwell, take a live blood sample and examine it with an ultra-high resolution microscope to see if candida is present. ‘Candida in the blood smear indicates that there is overgrowth in the colon, but if it isn’t present there may still be overgrowth.

‘Colonic irrigation is a definite way of detecting candida as its appearance is unmistakeable. It also takes the candida out of the gut immediately and is a good start to any treatment programme.’

Why do some people get candida?

There are several contributory factors to a build up of yeast including:

  • Use of inhalers;
  • Taking the contraceptive pill or HRT;
  • Repeated antibiotics
  • Diet high in sugar, alcohol and bread;
  • Too much stress!
  • A mouth full of amalgam fillings (see How Teeth Affect Our Health, Amalgam Fillings)

Women are three times more likely to get candida as men because drugs like the contraceptive pill alter the acid/alkaline balance in the body allowing yeast to take hold.

Quashing candida

A one-off attack of thrush may get better with antifungal pessaries which are now available over the counter, but if candida has taken a hold in the gut, more drastic measures are needed!

Nutritional therapists start off by removing yeast-feeding foods from the diet:

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fruit
  • Bread containing yeast
  • Mushrooms (because they are a fungus like yeast)
  • Processed foods for their sugar or yeast content

What they suggest instead:

  • Plenty of vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, brown rice;
  • Eat organic where possible;
  • Lots of water and herbal teas.

The aim is to create an environment hostile to yeast.

Nutritional therapists may prescribe specialist supplements to help to heal a leaky gut and further create a healthy intestinal environment, followed by supplements and herbs which kill off the candida. During these processes the toxins produced by killing the candida can make people feel worse than ever this can be remedied by using supplements which support the liver. 

There are some effective supplements for helping to rid the body of candida (see below) including Pau d’Arco (Lapacho) a good herbal antifungal and Candigest. But it should be stressed that ridding the body of candida can be quite a difficult thing and once taking these antifungals there may be a detoxification reaction – headaches, feeling shivery or  upset stomach.

The good news is that most people who change their diets and lifestyle end up sticking with them, enjoying themselves more and become healthier and more confident!

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Sue Reeves, 52, suffered from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for 15 years but  the symptoms were tolerable. She came back from holiday in Spain one summer with a bad stomach but it didn’t go away and the pain and diarrhoea got worse. ‘I had abdominal pain, excess wind and a tight bloated tummy, and I felt tired all the time.

‘My symptoms meant I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and so I became depressed, withdrawn and very low. I had some food allergy testing and found I was allergic to eggs, milk, nuts and melons. Despite cutting these out I didn’t get any better.

‘When I went to see a nutritionist I was told I had candida and took a number of vitamins and other supplements to try to combat the yeast infection. Unfortunately they didn’t make me much better.’ If Sue ate a meal she could pretty much guarantee she would become bloated, uncomfortable and suffer from wind. And going out for meals at restaurants or with friends was more of a torture than a pleasure.

Just over a year ago, Sue joined the National Candida Society and this proved to be her turning point – she was recommended to take Candigest Plus, an enzyme based supplement that rids the body of candida. She also took a pure and powerful probiotic called CP1 that replenished the good, live bacteria in her gut.

Within weeks Sue’s symptoms had all but gone. ‘I regained energy and no longer had a ‘dragging feeling’. At first I wasn’t eating anything with yeast or sugar in but as my system got stronger I started to reintroduce the food on her ‘banned’ list and now eats mostly organic food and only has to avoid eggs and chicken. ’I feel really well for the first time in 15 years. I enjoy a glass of red now and again and am happy to join my family and friends for meals at Chinese and Indian restaurants.

Ann Rowland, Dip ION, practises in 01730 821725  and at the Natural Health Centre, Chichester, 01243 786946

Rosalind Blackwell is a naturopath and medical herbalist who practises in Crickham, Somerset,  01934 733040,,


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Infertility affected by lifestyle?

Lifestyle Changes And Therapies Boost Fertility

One in six couples in the UK seeks help when trying to have a baby.

  • One cycle of IVF treatment should be available on the NHS, but it can still be a geographical lottery with long waiting lists. Some couples give up and pay thousands of pounds for each attempt.


  • While the Labour government announced that IVF should be available for everyone, the chances are that the coalition cuts will affect provision.
  • IVF involves fertilising an egg from the woman with the sperm from her partner outside the body, and placing it back in the womb
  • Success rates in the UK are only 20 per cent.

Read Infertility is also a male issue

Natural successes  

However, there is increasing evidence to show that there are natural ways of improving chances of fertility including nutrition, lifestyle changes and complementary therapies.

When couples change their lifestyle before trying for a baby the results are much more promising.

  • Recent research at Surrey University found that couples who made lifestyle changes had an 80 per cent success rate.

The Foresight Programme

  • a wholefood diet;
  • giving up smoking;
  • cutting out caffeine, sugar and alcohol;
  • checking both partners for genitourinary infections and parasites;
  • testing to discover allergies and vitamin and mineral deficiencies;
  • hair tests to find out levels of toxic metals, such as lead and mercury.

Caution with tampons

The programme also suggests the use of organic tampons and sanitary towels, although it is recommended that tampons are used as little as possible as they dry out the vagina and make it more prone to infection.


Depending on what deficiencies there are both men and women are put on a supplement programme, which usually includes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, selenium, folic acid, zinc, essential fatty acids and some amino acids.

Cleansing programme

If someone has a high concentration of heavy metals in their body a cleansing programme consisting of Vitamin C, garlic supplements, Vitamin B1 and B12 is prescribed.

Mobile phones and electro-magnetic stress

Foresight suggests couples should not carry a mobile phone next to their bodies and they suggest moving electrical goods away from where they sleep to avoid electro-magnetic stress.

Geopathic stress

They also suggest checking for G eopathic Stress – radiation which comes up from underground streams – which can adversely affect fertility.

CASE STUDY: Following a natural lifestyle

A Surrey couple had a daughter of two when they decided to try to have another child. The mother was 38 at the time and had not only having problems conceiving for three years, but when she had succeeded in getting pregnant she miscarried.

‘My GP told me that there was nothing clinically wrong. I had a already had a baby and it would be fine. Even when I saw a gynaecologist I was told, “There there don’t worry. It’s just because you’re tense.” I was sure that something wasn’t quite right and I wanted to find out what it was.’

She had heard of Foresight, a charity which promotes natural preconceptual care and she contacted one of their practitioners. The Foresight programme advocates a wholefood diet, giving up smoking and alcohol, and getting both partners tested for genitourinary infections, as well as testing them for allergies, vitamin and mineral levels and toxic metals.

‘The doctor sent me off for smear tests which I had not been able to get on the NHS. It turned out that I had some pre-cancerous cells and these had to be removed with laser treatment. She tested me with a vega machine which uses electrical conductivity on the acupressure points. It indicated that my vitamin and mineral levels were extremely low and that I was allergic to dairy products and yeast. I also had the fungal infection candida and this accounted for why I felt so tired all the time.

‘I went on a sugar-free diet and wholefood diet, and cut out everything I was allergic to. I also took acidophilus to counteract the candida, multiminerals, a Vitamin B complex and many other supplements and herbs. ‘I had to wait six months before I could try to conceive again to heal the area which had been given laser treatment and to get my system in top condition. Once the six months was over I got pregnant straightaway and had a healthy baby boy.’

Foresight is a pre-conceptual care charity which provides a programme of lifestyle changes to help couples have a baby. For details of the Foresight programme and practitioners contact: Foresight Preconception, 01243 868180,, or send a 15 x 21cm s.a.e. with 35p stamp to 178 Hawthorn Road, West Bognor, West Sussex, PO 21 2UY.

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Therapies for pregnancy, labour and afterwards

Massage, Reflexology, Aromatherapy

 ‘If a pregnant women is suffering from a debilitating condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, excessive swelling, or severe back ache they are referred to the complementary therapy team for reflexology, massage, aromatherapy and shiatsu massage,’ according to Wendy Gadsden, midwife specialist and complementary therapists co-ordinator at the Barratt Maternity Home at Northampton General Hospital.  Read also: Natural Baby.

In pregnancy:

  • Citrus oils are very uplifting in the early part of pregnancy – grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, and lemongrass are among the popular ones
  • To aid with relaxation Roman chamomile can be used from 24 weeks onwards
  • Reflexology is good for improving lymphatic drainage and alleviating fluid retention in pregnancy
  • After 28 weeks lavender, a versatile aromatherapy oil, is good for relaxation, swelling and many other ailments

and later:

  • The discomfort of pain in the pelvis can also be eased by working through the feet before or during childbirth
  • Massage is soothing and alleviates pain during labour, so choose an almond base and see if you can persuade your birth partner to practise.
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 The Association of Reflexologists: 0870 567 3320,

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‘It is unusual for a mother or baby to get through childbirth unscathed,’ according to Stuart Korth, the osteopath who runs the charity The Osteopathic Centre for Children, Harley Street. The centre offers osteopathy to children and pregnant women before and after childbirth regardless of their income.

Stuart Korth explains:

‘The baby’s head may also be adversely affected but osteopathy can prevent the child growing up with postural disturbances or neurological symptoms.’

  • Osteopathy before the birth can reduce the incidence of stress incontinence and post-natal depression
  • The state of the body framework is crucial to the process of labour, particularly the pelvic girdle and lumbic spine
  • Any mechanical disturbance can interfere with labour – e.g. if the pelvis doesn’t move freely it is difficult for the baby’s head to get through
  • Childbirth often affects the woman’s pelvic girdle and it is advisable to see an osteopath after labour as well.

 The Osteopathic Centre for Children: 109 Harley Street, London W1, 020 7490 5510

The General Osteopathic Council: 020 7357 6655,


 ‘If a woman suffers from sickness in pregnancy I suggest that she eats regularly, has plenty of fibre and lots of water, but cuts down on tea and coffee,’ advises Beth MacEoin, author and homeopath. ‘Even though homeopathy in pregnancy has no reported side-effects some women prefer not to take anything in the early months.

Beth recommends:

During pregnancy:

  • For sickness which is worse in the evening, weepiness and feeling uncharacteristically emotional Pulsatilla is a good remedy;
  • Sepia helps morning sickness and complete exhaustion;
  • If morning sickness is accompanied by retching and constipation Nux vomica is appropriate.

In labour:


 Arnica is the all purpose remedy for labour which helps to heal tissues and bruising and also relieves the emotional shock of childbirth

  • In the early stage of labour Gelsemium eases backache and physical exhaustion
  • Aconite eases the panic and fear associated with a fast labour
  • Nux vomica is helpful when contractions are causing sickness.

After the birth:  

  • Ignatia is suitable when the mother is tearful and finds it difficult to be separated from her baby;
  • Once home a panicking and overwhelmed mother can find Aconite calming;
  • Sepia is good for emotional numbness and physical exhaustion.  

‘All these remedies can be purchased in 6c potency over the counter, and the first four doses can be taken every hour. If there is no improvement the remedy needs to be changed or a higher dose taken, and it may be necessary to see a professional homeopath.’

Beth Maceoin practises in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 0191 236 6935 

The Society of Homeopaths can provide names of practitioners, 0845 450 6611,

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‘In China they claim an 85 to 90 per cent success rate in turning a breech baby round the right way using moxibustion – which involves burning herbs on the women’s toes,’ according to Sharon Yelland, Community Midwifery Sister – Acupuncturist at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.

As one of a team of three midwives qualified in acupuncture Sharon and her team give moxibustion to mothers of breech babies at around 33 to 35 weeks’ pregnant as well as acupuncture for sickness, back ache, varicose veins, piles and insomnia.

Provided the midwives who do acupuncture are available, acupuncture might be given during labour in hospital or at home to Plymouth’s mothers.

During labour:

  • Women often don’t need any drugs at all, the labour becomes shorter and pain levels are decreased;
  • Needles in the ear can be controlled by the patient with an electrical stimulation machine according to how intense the pain is.

After the birth:

  • Acupuncture helps with bladder problems brought on by childbirth;
  • Needles on top of the head and at the back of the calf are good for piles;
  • After the birth acupuncture can help with improving milk flow, mastitis and depression.

The British Acupuncture Council:, 0208 735 0400

Yoga therapy

‘Any exercise which opens up and energises the pelvis and gets energy flowing through the body is good for pregnancy,’ claims Satvikananda who runs yoga pregnancy classes in Surrey and Hampshire. ‘The butterfly posture is particularly good for opening up the pelvis – sit on the floor with the soles of the feet together, open the knees and gently flap them up and down.’

Satvikananda emphasises the need to be extra careful for the first 12 to 14 weeks:

  • Gentle breathing and relaxation is advisable at this stage, but no exercises;
  • Breathing to control pain is helpful throughout;
  • It also helps pregnant women to recognise the energy in the body so that they can use it to bear down in labour.

Class attendees often get back together when the baby is only a few days old. ‘We concentrate on pelvic floor exercises but we also see what we can do for the babies. Hardly any of my women get post-natal depression and yoga helps them to get their bodies back in shape and condition.’

It is important to go to a qualified pregnancy yoga teacher.

The British Wheel of Yoga, 01529 306851 ,

Satvikananda can be contacted on 01932 872587