October 23, 2008

10 Helpful Hints for Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum

Please enjoy this list of 10 healthful hints for pregnancy, labor and postpartum. Much of this information is gathered from friends, students, hands-on experience, mentors and teachers. I strongly believe in learning from others, so please feel free to pass this along to all your friends!

1. Olive Oil on Baby’s Bottom to Prevent the Meconium From Sticking

Vanessa, one of my recent doula clients, enlightened me to this brilliant idea. Right after your baby is born, take a few drops of olive oil and rub it onto the baby’s bottom. When your baby passes the meconium (your baby’s first poop), this dark, tar-like substance will be easy to wash off.

2. Arnica Helps Heal Tears of the Perineum After Labor
Most use the pellets rather than the cream for this type of wound. The cream is not supposed to be used on broken skin – though I have known women who have used the cream and found it to work without problems.

With the pellets, the you can put 2-3 in your peri bottle before you fill it with water, and use that solution when you pee. You can also take it orally (2 pellets) whenever you remember to. Try to avoid taking it around meals or touching the pellets with your hands. As you start to feel better you will naturally start taking it less often. Any dosage you can get will be helpful, but I think the stronger the better for this.

3. “The Midwive’s Pitocin”
Make a bowl of oatmeal, honey and nuts during labor and graze on it as you desire. If you break down the ingredients, you will find the perfect balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and natural sugar.

4. Hard Candy to Help Boost You During Labor
Because so many hospitals restrict eating during labor, it is possible for mom to get a little low in the energy department. I always bring hard honey candies with me to labors. This can give the laboring mom a bit of energy, and it dissolves in the mouth so it does not count as eating food, should any one ask.

5 Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux
Drink one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the morning, before eating. Theoretically, it works because the stomach is fooled into producing less acid. (Midwifery Today Winter 2007)

6. Cold Maxi-Pads with Witchhazel, Lavender and Vaseline
Before you head to the hospital, take several maxi pads and pour witch hazel and several drops of lavender on them, and then place them in the freezer. Not only will this small science experiment feel good on your sore bottom, it also promotes healing.

One of my students recently passed on the idea of smearing some Vaseline on the pad to prevent any stitches you might have needed from sticking to the pad.

7. Breastmilk for Cracked Nipples
It is not uncommon for women to experience sore or cracked nipples while breastfeeding. It is usually a sign that your baby is not latching correctly. One treatment for helping heal your nipples is to express a small amount of breast milk or colostrum onto the nipple and allow it to air-dry.

Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, beet greens and dandelion are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and they can alleviate many pregnancy-related discomforts. Studies have shown increasing your iron intake can help relieve restless leg syndrome. A lack of calcium and magnesium (both found in dark leafy greens) can help rid you of middle-of-the-night calf cramps. For those that suffer from constipation, the fiber in these vegetables will help get things moving along!

These dark greens are also rich in vitamin K. Insufficient Vitamin K can contribute to postpartum hemorrhaging.

9. Coconut Water for Electrolytes, Edema and Constipation
Tender coconut water (elaneer/nariyal pani) is one of the richest sources of electrolytes. It is high in chlorides, potassium and magnesium and has a moderate amount of sugar, sodium and protein. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function. Coconut water is also a good source of dietary fibre, manganese, calcium, riboflavin and Vitamin C.

Coconut water is also a natural diuretic, which will help prevent urinary tract infections as well as relieve constipation.

10. Check Out the Wonders of Nettles: A Safe, Wonderful Herb for Pregnancy and After
The use of herbs may be a very new concept for some, but I would like to introduce you to the nettle leaf. There are no contraindications to the use of this leaf during or after pregnancy. (Holistic Midwifery, Anne Frye) And the benefits are bountiful!

*Vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur are particularly abundant in nettles.

*Increasing fertility in women and men.

* Nourishing mother and fetus.

* Easing leg cramps and other spasms.

* Diminishing pain during and after birth. The high calcium content, which is readily assimilated, helps diminish muscle pains in the uterus, in the legs and elsewhere.

* Preventing hemorrhage after birth. Nettle is a superb source of vitamin K, and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage. Fresh Nettle Juice, in teaspoon doses, slows postpartum bleeding.

* Reducing hemorrhoids. Nettle’s mild astringency and general nourishing action tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity and improves venous resilience.

* Increasing the richness and amount of breast milk.

The benefits of nettles listed above are an excerpt from Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed




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