Post-natal Care

After-Birth Pain

I have encountered several mothers who have suffered from excessive pain in the coccyx after childbirth and have given them equal parts of tincture of yarrow, arnica and St John’s wort (one teaspoon twice daily) with great success.

Feeding

You have heard it before but I will say it again-breast is best. The only medical reason for a baby not being breast-fed is if the mother has active TB, typhoid fever or malaria. Breast milk is germ-free, readily available, requires no preparation and comes at the right temperature. More importantly, it is full of antibodies that protect the baby against disease and immunize her against infections. Breast-fed babies are less likely to suffer from allergies and the lactoferrin in breast milk stops the growth of certain malignant yeasts and bacteria in the baby.

Breast-fed babies are less likely to become fat than their bottle-fed counterparts, and suckling a baby produces oxytoxin which causes the muscles in the womb to contract and so assists it back into place. There is now a suggestion that breast-feeding lowers the incidence of breast cancer and will help you lose weight and get back into shape more quickly. Breast milk is also lower in salt and higher in vitamins A and C, and zinc and iron, than cow’s milk. It also contains a thyroid hormone which the baby is unable to produce for herself. It has been clearly shown that breast-fed babies have fewer gastrointestinal, ear, respiratory, viral and yeast infections, less meningitis and more benign lactobacilli in their stools.

ALTERNATIVE MILKS

Cow’s milk is of the most common allergy foods. At least

per are violently allergic it and many others 7 manifest mild allergy syndrome by way of mucus congestion and diarrhea. Babies fed cow’s milk are more likely to have abhor mal calcium and sodium concentrations in their body cells, and to suffer from amino-acid deficiencies, and cot-deaths occur twice as often in babies fed on cow’s milk. If you can’t breast-feed you would be better off turning to sheep or milk. The fat content the size of the fat globules in goat’s milk mimic breast milk, and goat’s milk is easily digested in twenty minutes compared to the two hours it takes to process the much larger fatty globules of cow’s milk. Soya milk is not rich enough in iron and calcium, and while it can be mixed with goat’s or sheep’s milk it should not be given on its own. Avoid the sort of soya milk that comes laced with sugar, salt or syrup.

MEDICATION WHILE BREAST-FEEDING

The final indisputable advantage of breast milk is that gentle medication for the baby can be given and with control by giving the mother herbs she will transport them in easily digestible form to her baby. I have used in precisely this way

and the calcium formula to cure crustal lacteal (‘cradle cap’); catnip fennel to soothe chamomile to soothe digestive upsets; and tormenter for diarrhea. Do remember that alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, opiates, tranquil lizards, quinine, antibiotics and laxatives, as well as vitamin C, all pass through into breast milk in small amounts. Barbiturates, aspirin, iodine, bromides and ergot all flood into breast milk

copiously So if you need antibiotics while breast-feeding take the following natural alternative. A tincture made of equal parts of:

butterbur

nasturtium horseradish

watercress

Garden Cress

Put 40 drops in a cup of water and take a teaspoon every fifteen minutes while the infection is acute. Reduce to drops (taken in water) three times daily if it is persistent. This is Dr Vogel’s remedy, commercially available under the name of Petroconale. Boost the baby’s auto-immune system by including in your diet lots of the herbs that fight bacteria – thyme, sage, garlic rosemary, marigold. If you have never thought of eating the latter, try sprinkling the petals over salads or baking them into bread-pretty and tasty with it.

COLOSTRUM

This starts being produced after the sixteenth week of pregnancy and by the thirtieth week can be expressed by hand to encourage the milk ducts to open. It will come out in drops of thick yellow fluid and is abundantly present in the first three or four days after birth. It is higher in protein, vitamin A and minerals than later breast milk and lower in carbohydrates and fats. Its reduced fat content makes it easier to digest. It is also mildly laxative, which helps the baby clear her digestive tract of meconium (the early greenish-black stools that accumulate while in the uterus). Like mature breast milk, colostrum contains antibodies against bacteria and viruses. These antibodies slow or stop the growth of flu, encephalitis, polio, mumps and E. coli. The long-term reward of colostrum followed by breast milk is a resoundingly healthy colon for the baby later in life.

DIET WHILE BREAST-FEEDING

Nursing mothers actually need more protein and calories than they needed in the last trimester and calorie content should be as high as 2,600 daily, Vitamins A, C and B12 as well as iodine and iron all need to be increased. Juliette de Bairacli-Levy recom mends a restorative drink of 1 dessertspoon of a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and candied ginger pounded up and added to a pint of sweet white wine as a restorative drink immediately after labour. Other mothers may prefer raspberry-leaf tea with lots of honey, cloves, cinnamon and ginger added.

QUALITY AND FLOW

Good milk is thin and flows easily. It should smell good, be pure (almost bluish) white in colour and taste sweet. To test your milk, put a little on your fingernail and tilt the finger upwards. If the milk does not trickle down easily it is too thick. Herbs which

improve the quality of milk are marshmallow and borage. Try the very young leaves of borage as a delicious alternative to cucumber in your salads; and the beautiful blue flowers can be used in the same way. Herbs which increase the flow of breast milk are fennel, cinnamon, anise, blessed thistle, vervain, fenugreek, goat’s-rue and caraway.

To thin breast milk

Drink 2 fl oz (60 ml) cider vinegar mixed with a tablespoon honey in hot water twice daily, and eat lots of hyssop, thyme and borage. If you can get them fresh, sprinkle them in foods and cook with them, but dried herbs are also acceptable. In this case make teas of

them. Eat lots of soupy grains (such as green lentils and orange lentils), and lace them liberally with plenty of garlic and onions. Add plenty of sage, blessed thistle, comfrey and red clover blossom to

To thicken breast milk

the diet. The flowers of red clover make an unusual addition to

salads in the summer.

SORE NIPPLES

Pound up a handful of fresh lady’s-mantle leaves until they are finely mulched, or hydrate a tablespoon of the dried leaves by soaking them for twenty minutes in just enough hot water to cover. Stir in enough honey to form a thick poultice and spread this over the nipple. Cover it with gauze, a square of plastic and a soft nursing bra. Keep the nipples supple by oiling them or applying a little buttermilk or honey.

INABILITY TO PRODUCE MILK

False unicorn mixed with other galactagogues (substances that

promote milk secretion) is believed to encourage the flow of breast milk. Certainly a baby’s frequent sucking action helps. I am also told that Sicilian women who have never had babies sometimes induce a flow of milk by putting drops of goat’s milk onto the nipple whenever the baby is about to give up sucking at the non-productive breast. After persisting with this for two weeks, their own milk begins to flow. It is worth a try if you are apparently unable to breast-feed but very much want to do so.

 WEANING

The comfort of breast-feeding is not easily forgone by the baby, so wean her gently and gradually. Drink large amounts of cold red-sage tea to dry up your milk, and if the baby is fretful and insists on the breast, make a poultice of 1 oz (30 g) freshly ground, finely milled pennyroyal mixed with equal quantities of myth. Mix with a little purified water and spread over the nipples. You will notice that when the baby sucks on this she rapidly loses her desire to suckle. But it makes coming off the breast less traumatic for her.

 Fatigue

It is often fatigue that swamps new parents, due to stress, lack of sleep and extra work, once they have come down off the initial euphoria. So take cat naps during the day as soon as the baby sleeps: go to sleep very early at night initially; reduce visitors; aim for one hour’s complete relaxation daily doing something that is purely pleasurable for yourself; do not be afraid to seek help from friends, make sure that both you and your partner get optimum nutrition. Above all, be determined not to get overwhelmed by your new responsibilities and do not get anxious. The chances of your baby suddenly becoming extremely ill or manifesting a hidden abnormality in the days after the birth are very remote Babies are built to survive!

Bathing Yourself and Your Baby

If you can bear it, as soon as possible after the birth take alternating cold and hot sitz-baths  every morning and evening. Add a teaspoon of thyme oil to each bath and practise your PC exercises  in the bath. If the perineum is swollen, use lavender oil instead and apply a few drops diluted in wheatgerm oil directly, wearing a panty liner to protect knickers. If you have had an episiotomy, apply a poultice of fresh comfrey leaves or the powdered root, and as soon asst cut shows signs of healing start to massage vitamin E oil and St John’s wort oil into it. Avoid constipation at all costs. You may have to resort to sitting on a rubber ring undignified but

effective. Cold sitz-baths will speed the discharge of lochia and encourage the womb to shrink back to its normal size as well as tone up the pelvic floor muscles. In Kenya, my ayah told me, it is customary for the midwife to massage the abdomen to get the body back into shape but this is obviously a special skill. To firm your breasts, use a forceful cold shower on them after a warm bath.

It can be frightening washing a tiny newborn baby in a bath as they tend to feel very slippery. Frequent baths taken at blood heat encourage skin activity, remove congestion and stimulate the internal organs and lymphatic system. Do not use soap. A bag of oatmeal is preferable, followed with a dash of cider vinegar in the bath water to restore the baby’s acid mantle. An infusion of lady’s-mantle added to bath water will help with any tendency to hernia; chamomile is good for digestive and metabolic disturb ances; marigold for skin rashes; wild thyme to protect against colds; and lemon balm works wonders on fractious babies.

Massaging the whole body with St John’s wort oil works better than powder to protect against nappy rash and is a good antisep tic. Avoid oil only if the baby has infantile acne. Massaging yourself with equal parts of ylang-ylang, lavender and marjoram in a carrier base of almond oil is wonderfully soothing. Do not forget that you need mothering every bit as much as your baby.

Love-making

As you pour your initial attention into the baby and take time to heal yourself, your libido will be understandably low. But once you feel comfortable and enthused again you must think seriously about contraception. Even if you breast-feed, it is by no means impossible to conceive within the first 4-6 weeks following birth. Admittedly it is unusual for a woman to menstruate within twenty-eight days of delivery and most nursing mothers do not ovulate for twenty-two weeks after delivery.

Postnatal Depression

This has now reached virtually epidemic proportions in this country. It seems that one in ten mothers suffer from it, and the

disease is so widely recognized that if a woman kills her but within twelve months of its birth, the crime is not ‘murder – the term used instead is ‘infanticide’. Post-natal depression can drag on for as much as a year, and one of my patients likened it permanently having flu. The problem has been variously attrib uted to hormonal imbalance and a lack of progesterone as well as high levels of stress, changes in lifestyle and social status, immedi ate separation from the baby after birth, an unexpected caesarean, or over-sedation during the birth. Whatever the combination of causes, communication is vital. There is an association specifically set up to help with this problem  .

Keep your diet optimal and take 9 g vitamin C daily, and twice daily a strong B-complex supplement with 75 mg of each B

fraction in it.

Equal parts of:

lemon balm

gotu kola

pasque-flower

Cornsilk

lady’s-slipper

scullcap

vervain

Take three size “o ‘Capsules of the finely powdered herbs with every meal. Do your skin-scrubbing and barefoot walking morning and evening. Force yourself to. Depression can be greatly alleviated by purposeful action. Lean on those you love for support. They will be glad you did.