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Safe and sound in pregnancy

Some "almost specific" remedies for pregnancy and birth

A few years
ago I received a call from a patient, Mary, who was three months pregnant. She
had been involved in a minor car accident and had suffered some abdominal bruising
from banging into the steering wheel. She was bleeding a little from the uterus
and her whole abdomen felt sore and bruised. Her doctor had prescribed bed rest
for a day or two or until the bleeding stopped. Although Mary expressed some
concern that she might miscarry, she said she was basically OK. She wanted to
know if it was safe to take Arnica.
     I am often asked whether homeopathy is safe in
pregnancy and childbirth. The beauty of homeopathy is its safety and its efficacy.
If a woman is feeling unwell or has hurt herself, a well-selected homeopathic
remedy can stimulate her vital force, her inner healer; this positive response
can only be of benefit to her baby as well. The safety of homeopathic medicines,
which are entirely non-toxic, has been confirmed by 200 years of clinical practice
around the world.

Arnica rules—OK!
Arnica is everybody's favorite remedy. During pregnancy, it can help with minor
injuries, like discomfort from an active baby who kicks, causing soreness. During
labor, Arnica can help the muscles to do their work with a minimum of physical
stress and strain—and may even speed the labor itself. After the birth,
Arnica will help strained tissues to recover their former strength.
     Arnica is as close to a "specific" as we get ...
and we homeopaths don't have many of those. Dorothy Shepherd writes in her exquisite
little book The Physician's Posy: "You may have heard it mentioned that
there are no specifics in Homeopathy, a specific being a drug which, in a doctor's
mind, as well as in those of lay people, is associated with a certain disease.
... There is no rule without an exception, so we are taught in grammar, and even
in homeopathy you get exceptions to rules. The best specific I know is Arnica
for injuries, falls and accidents of all sorts."
     For many people, it is Arnica that provides incontrovertible
proof that homeopathy works. And once you've seen it work, you are hooked, as
many reading these words will agree. It is impressive to see that scary "egg" on
your child's forehead caused by a nasty fall, shrink and disappear altogether
in front of your very eyes—within minutes of having given a single tablet
of Arnica. There is no further pain and no discoloration. The bruising is healed
from the inside. A mini-miracle.
     The typical person needing Arnica says they are
OK when they plainly are not; this symptom alone can guide you to a successful
Arnica prescription. My pregnant patient, Mary, was clearly in need of a little
Arnica. Bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is cause for more than a
little concern, and that giveaway comment, "I'm OK," after an injury to soft
tissues confirmed the need for our best homeopathic friend—Arnica! She
took Arnica 30C every 2 hours, and the bleeding stopped within a few doses. By
the next day, the soreness had gone and her pregnancy continued with no further
ado!

Arnica's little friend

Don't forget about Arnica's close friend, Bellis perennis. It is a remarkable
little remedy for bruising that goes deeper than Arnica. Think of it especially
after the birth—after a long labor or a Cesarean section where sore, bruised
sensations are located deeper in the body (as opposed to the more superficial
muscles) and Arnica doesn't afford relief.
     Bellis perennis is almost a specific remedy for
women who experience severe pains in their groin during the last few months of
pregnancy, pains that come on suddenly while walking and are severe enough to
make walking impossible until they have passed. These pains are due to the stretching
of the ligaments and nerves of the uterus, and a single dose of Bellis perennis
causes them to pass quickly and helps prevent their recurrence.

Caulophyllum—take only if indicated!
Some homeopathic books advise pregnant women to take homeopathic Caulophyllum
during the last weeks or even months before delivery to prepare them for an easy
labor. This is similar to the advice of some natural birth books to drink raspberry
leaf tea throughout the pregnancy, and especially in the last three months. Caulophyllum
can indeed pave the way for a trouble-free childbirth if it is indicated, but
if taken routinely and unnecessarily, it can cause difficulties in labor—as
can raspberry leaf tea. And if either is taken repeatedly when not indicated,
proving symptoms* may develop.
     Caulophyllum (or blue cohosh) was used by Native
Americans as a birthing herb, hence two of its common names, squaw root and papoose
root. Its special gift is in helping women whose tissues have lost their tone,
especially the tissues of the uterus. Raspberry leaf tea and/or homeopathically
prepared Caulophyllum can be taken to prepare women for an easier delivery, but
they are primarily indicated for sedentary women with poor muscle tone, or for
those who have a history of gynecological problems or difficult deliveries. Women
who are fit and have healthy muscle tone should avoid them or take them only
on the instruction of an experienced herbalist or homeopath.
     Caulophyllum's reputation for establishing effective
contractions in labor is deserved. Homeopathic Caulophyllum works like a dream
when it is called for. In late pregnancy, Caulophyllum is useful for annoying
Braxton-Hicks contractions. In long, drawn-out labors, it can help with extremely
painful, ineffectual contractions that "don't work," in other words, that are
not causing the cervix to dilate. The pains "fly about" the abdomen, from one
place to another. Sometimes the labor slows down and even stops altogether. After
delivery, the uterus may still not contract properly and may become prolapsed,
or the placenta may not be easily expelled. Exhaustion, trembling, thirst, and
chilliness accompany the above complaints in a woman who needs Caulophyllum.
Strangely, the chilliness is no better for being covered.

Using Caulophyllum to bring on labor
Since a normal pregnancy can range from 240 to 300 days (35 to 42 weeks), it
is almost impossible to predict a baby's due date accurately. The question of
overdue babies is a vexing one because, come the ninth month (by dates), doctors
and midwives often get itchy fingers and want that baby out! In many Western
countries, the rise of inductions and Cesareans confirms a trend towards births
that are managed by medical professionals rather than those where nature is encouraged
to take its course. I am not talking of the wonderful life-saving work that medics
are able to offer women whose deliveries have become complicated, but I do question
the wisdom of unnecessary interventions that appear to be designed for the convenience
of doctors and hospitals.
     A few doses of Caulophyllum can help to start a
labor that is late (according to dates) but ready—that is, the baby is
ready to come out and the mother's body is correspondingly ready to deliver.
I suggest women take it in the 200C potency 3 times daily for up to 2 days, and
then repeat it 3--7 days later if labor still has not begun. If labor doesn't
start after a second repetition of Caulophyllum, a different remedy may be needed,
or perhaps the dates are not correct. There are other homeopathic medicines that
may be indicated at this stage in a pregnancy when labor is delayed, but they
really need to be determined by a skilled, professional homeopath.

A lasting relationship
Because homeopathic medicines are non-toxic, they are safe, especially in pregnancy,
but it's sensible not to take something for every little complaint—(a rule
that's true not just during pregnancy). Use them wisely and sensibly, and you
will make a lasting relationship with a wonderful source of healing!

* proving symptoms: the symptoms that the homeopathic medicine is capable of
curing, that is, those that would appear in a proving. For example, it is not
unusual for small babies who are routinely given chamomile tea at bedtime (e.g.,
every night, when they don't even need it) to become irritable and sleepless;
likewise, routine use of Caulophyllum (i.e., repeated doses over a long period
of time when it is not indicated) can lead to a difficult labor.

Sidebar:
Guidelines: Safe prescribing in pregnancy
•     Treat yourself only for minor complaints
that are recent: i.e., mild morning sickness or constipation, a cold or flu,
cramps, tiredness, heartburn, or insomnia, etc. Chronic complaints (those that
are recurring and/or deep-seated) should always be treated by a professional
homeopath.
•     Use low potencies (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X,
or 30C) as these are nice and gentle and therefore safe for you and your baby.
•     Take the remedy for a short period of time
and monitor the results carefully. The right remedy will work fairly quickly
in an acute situation—6X: take 3 to 4 times a day for up to a week; 6C
or 12X: take 2 to 3 times daily for up to 5 days; 12C, 30X, or 30C: take once
or twice daily for up to 3 days.
•     Monitor the effects of your remedy carefully.
If it has definitely helped, you can repeat it if your symptoms return—but
only if it continues to help!
•     If your symptoms keep returning, then the
homeopathic medicine is only working superficially and you will need to seek
the advice of a professional homeopath.
•     Always check in with your doctor to make
sure your symptoms are not serious, especially if they are persistent. Some seemingly
innocuous symptoms can be indications of a more serious situation. For example,
itching in late pregnancy can be a sign of a more serious liver disorder (obstetric
cholestasis), which can lead to premature labor and an increased risk of hemorrhage
after delivery.

About the author:
Miranda Castro is a British homeopath who has been living happily in the U.S.
since 1994. She is a Fellow of the Society of Homeopaths (UK) and past President
of the North American Society of Homeopaths. She is author of The Complete
Homeopathy Handbook
, Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby's First
Years
, and A Homeopathic Guide to Stress. She lives, practices, and
teaches in Southeast Florida and can be contacted at mirandacastro@comcast.net