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, www.aor.org.uk

The International Federation of Aromatherapists: 020 8742 260, www.ifaroma.org

Osteopathy

‘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 www.occ.uk.com

The General Osteopathic Council: 020 7357 6655, www.osteopathy.org.uk

Homeopathy

 ‘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,  http://www.homeopathy-soh.org

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Acupuncture

‘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: http://www.acupuncture.org.uk, 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 , www.bwy.org.uk

Satvikananda can be contacted on 01932 872587

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