By Dana Ullman MPH
(Excerpted from Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century, Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1991)
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Why is it that so many physicians seem to think that birth is a surgical solution to a nine-month disease? Although good medical care is so important for the health of the mother and infant in high risk situations, physicians intervene too often in the birthing process, turning normal deliveries into medical emergencies.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) commonly asserts that its members deserve credit for the decline in infant and maternal death rates during the past century. ACOG however doesn’t readily acknowledge that most of the countries with the lowest infant mortality rates have the largest numbers of midwives who provide home births and rarely utilize technological interventions. Despite spending more money per person on health care than any other country, the U.S. ranks 18th in infant mortality according to 1984 statistics. (1) It is startling to learn that not only are all Scandanavian countriesahead of the U.S. in having lower infant mortality rates, but so are Ireland, Spain, and East Germany.
Despite the various shortcomings of modern obstetrical care, the present regime is an improvement over the way physicians delivered babies in the 1800s. In the 1870s women were commonly given regular doses of quinine before birth to prevent fever, plus a powerful cathartic to “cleanse their body,” then ergot to induce labor, and morphine to lessen any after pains. (2) The use of these powerful drugs increased, rather than lowered, instances of infant and maternal mortality during childbirth.
With the fear of germs so prominent at the turn of the century, hospitals did all they could to eradicate infectious organisms. Nurses washed women’s head with kerosene, ether, and ammonia. They sometimes shaved pubic hair because they thought that it harbored germs. And they performed enemas on women in labor every 12 hours and gave continual douches of saline solutions to which whisky and bichloride of mercury were added. (3) The increased effort to protect the mother and infant led to interventions and manipulations of the birthing process that made giving birth both traumatic and dangerous. Describing the 19th century obstetrician, historians Richard and Dorothy Wertz have also unfortunately characterized the 20th century obstetrician:
“Doctors were on the lookout for trouble in birth. That seemed to them to be their primary purpose. They found a lot of trouble–so much, in fact, that they came to think that every birth was a potential disaster and that it was best to prepare each woman for the worst eventualities. In line with that perception, doctors increased their control over the patients during labor and delivery, rendering them more powerless to experience or participate in birth. Women acceded to the doctors’ increasing control because they also believed that their methods would make birth safer.” (4)
The underlying assumption of obstetricians has tended to be that women need technological interventions in order to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth. Although some medical interventions are certainly of great value, there is general consensus that birth has become over-medicalized. Some of this overmedicalization is the result of doctors doing all they can to prevent malpractice suits,* and some of it is the result of doctors assuming that more medical interventions improve the chances of having a healthy mother and infant.
[* It is rare for physicians to be sued for over-utilizing medical interventions, but it is common for suits to arise after a doctor waits before intervention. Dr. David Rubsamen, a physician, attorney and insurance company consultant, notes, “It’s very uncommon for an obstetrician to be sued because he did an unnecessary Caesarean section. But cases where the charge is that you waited 45 minutes too long, are very common.” (5)]
There is now increasing concern about the use of any drugs during pregnancy since the fetus inevitably receives doses of these drugs which can disturb its development. Research has shown that drugs during labor and delivery can have short- as well as long-term effects on infants. (6) Even the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs has recommended that doctors “use the smallest possible amount of medications when it is needed, and to discuss the benefits and side effects with the mother preferably in advance of the birth.” (7)
Obstetricians have contended that the various interventions are necessary for a safe birth. No one can doubt that certain medical interventions can reduce complications and be lifesaving at times. Problems however result when conventional drugs and modern technology are utilized in normal or relatively normal childbirth. Obstetricians have ignored the fact that those countries which have utilized the least medical interventions during birth have tended to have the best childbirth statistics. Whereas 85% of women having hospital delivery in the U.S. have had an episiotomy, only 8% of Dutch women and only 3% of Swedish women receive them. (8) Whereas 25-33% of women in the U.S. are aided in birth by a forceps delivery, only about 5% of European women receive this treatment. (9) And whereas over 20% of American women who have hospital births have a caesarean section, the World Health Organization has conservatively estimated that “there is no justification for any region to have a rate higher than 10-15%.” (10)
Of particular concern, it has been determined that one intervention leads to another, each one increasing health risks to the mother and infant. Drug use during pregnancy causes potential health problems for the fetus and increases the chances of fetal distress syndrome which may require cesarean section. Amniotomy (the deliberate breaking of the bag of waters surrounding the baby) helps induce labor, and as the result of it the fetus loses the cushion of even pressure that protects it during contractions and lessens compression again the head.
The lithotomy position, in which a woman lies on her back with her feet spread in stirrups is generally convenient for the doctor but is an uncomfortable and inefficient position for women during delivery.* The lithotomy position leads to slower progress of labor, increases chances of the doctor recommending methods to induce and augment labor, often leads to the use of forceps and episiotomy for delivery, and raises blood pressure which may decrease the amount of oxygen to the fetus, leading to the greater need for caesarian section.
[* One survey noted that 95% of women prefer an upright position during labor and delivery. (11)]
The administration of analgesia and anesthesias to diminish pain during labor decreases the strength and frequency of contractions, usually requiring the use of drugs to augment labor and forceps to aid delivery. These drugs may also lower the mother’s blood pressure which could threaten the life of the fetus. The drugs also prevent the woman from actually feeling how hard she is pushing the baby against her perineum, which may lead to stretching or tearing it. Physicians then must reduce this latter risk with further intervention by doing an episiotomy.
Doing an episiotomy requires local anesthesia which has the above mentioned risks associated with it. An episiotomy enables the physician to use forceps to speed up delivery, though there are additional risks from its application, including hemorrhage within the head and damage to the nerves of the face and arms. There is also an increased threat of severe lacerations of the mother’s perineum when forceps and episiotomies are used.
All the above mentioned interventions increase the chances of needing a caesarean section. The Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that there are 26 times more maternal deaths from caesarean section than from normal delivery. (12) Even when women who had been diagnosed with serious pre-existing disease weren’t counted, the death rate for women undergoing a caesarean was still 10 times greater.
Since a caesarean section is major surgery which may require a general anesthesia, the mother is unable to breastfeed her infant immediately after birth. And because the mother usually needs to take further medications after this operation, she ultimately is also feeding these drugs to her infant through her breastmilk.
Women who are prescribed medications during or after labor, or at any time when they are breastfeeding, are also providing trace amounts of these drugs in their milk. Even though only relatively small amounts of these drugs appear in the milk, the young infant’s liver, kidneys, immune system, and general defenses haven’t matured enough to metabolize and detoxify these drugs effectively. The results may be minor, or in some cases, they can be significant.
Drug use during pregnancy can have even more traumatic effects on the new life that is developing in the woman’s body. Thalidomide, an infamous drug which was prescribed to pregnant women in the 1960s and which caused serious birth defects, forced the Federal Drug Administration to require more adequate testing of drugs prior to the availability on the open market. Still, many commonly used drugs can have damaging effects on the fetus, especially when incompatible drugs are utilized together. One expert has estimated that the average pregnant woman in 1980 received four different prescriptions. (13) It is thus no wonder that even conservative statistics now reveal that 12% of babies born in the U.S. have a serious, often incurable mental or physical health disorder. (14)*
[* Drug use during pregnancy is one significant reason for many birth defects, though genetic disposition and exposure to various toxic substances and radiation will also influence the amount of birth defects.]
There is finally general consensus that drug use during pregnancy, labor, and lactation should be kept to a minimum. However, most physicians in the United States are not aware of specific alternatives to their conventional drugs and thus often have to rely upon them as the primary course of treatment for sick, pregnant, or lactating women. It is a sad fact that American physicians do not know much about homeopathy, and therefore, they do not know that these medicines can be instrumental in diminishing various symptoms of pregnancy, reducing risks of problems in labor, and healing pains, discomforts, or diseases of women who are breastfeeding. Since homeopathic medicines are generally safe, they can provide much benefit and little harm. A growing number of American physicians are finally learning about and using homeopathic medicines. Our children will thank us for this.
Homeopathic Medicines in Pregnancy
The relative safety of the homeopathic medicines make them invaluable in pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. “There’s nothing safer.” says Ananda Zaren, a nurse, midwife, and homeopath in Santa Barbara, California, who has used homeopathic medicines in hundreds of births. Besides being safe, the medicines are quite effective in treating various common problems of pregnancy. Zaren adds, “The medicines help strengthen the woman physically and psychologically.” Homeopaths have been known to joke that pregnancy is an excellent time to receive homeopathic care since two people (the mother and the fetus) get a remedy for the price of one. The medicines not only improve the health of the mother, they also benefit the fetus. Although no formal statistical analysis has yet been carried out, homeopaths have commonly observed that the children born from women who have received homeopathic care during pregnancy seem healthier than others. Homeopaths make this conjecture by comparing the children of women from previous pregnancies without homeopathic medicines with the offspring of later pregnancies in which the mothers have received the medicines.
It is generally known that the health of the woman greatly affects the health of the fetus. Since pregnancy can be particularly stressful to a woman’s body, women often experience exacerbations of previous health problems or various new symptoms. Some of these common symptoms and conditions are nausea, abdominal gas, vaginal infections, bladder infections, herpes, insomnia, anemia, backaches, breast swelling and swelling in general, constipation, hemorrhoids, leg cramps, skin eruptions, and varicose veins.
Some of these symptoms and conditions are minor and do not require any treatment with conventional or homeopathic medicines. They can be alleviated with appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes. However, other conditions can be irritating enough to require some kind of treatment. Since pregnant women should be very careful in taking any conventional drugs, it is reasonable and prudent to consider first trying homeopathic medicines for many non-emergency medical conditions.
It is generally recommended that pregnant women receive professional homeopathic care rather than treat themselves. Since their health directly affects the well-being of two people, the pregnant woman deserves the best treatment possible, and an experienced practitioner is more able to provide this care. If homeopathic care isn’t available in your area, individuals can learn to self-prescribe; unfortunately, there are not many good books on homeopathic medicines for obstetrical problems and none of the books in English are up-to-date texts. There are some modern texts on homeopathic obstetrics in German and French.
Some women, of course, will be more difficult to treat than others. This book isn’t intended to get into the technical details of what homeopaths do in such cases. However, it is worthwhile to know that homeopaths differentiate between acute symptoms and chronic symptoms. Acute symptoms represent self-protective efforts of the organism dealing with some type of recent stress or infection. Chronic symptoms, in comparison, refer to recurrent, unsuccessful efforts of the organism to re-establish health. Such symptoms may persist because the person is constitutionally weakened from genetic, lifestyle, or environmental factors and/or because the person is continually stressed or frequently reinfected (this is discussed in more detail in Chapter 9 on “Chronic Diseases”). Sometimes what seems to be an acute symptom is actually the result of an underlying chronic condition. Instead of prescribing a medicine primarily for the most prominent symptom, the homeopath may prescribe a “constitutional” medicine which is individualized to the totality of a woman’s symptoms in the light of her present state as well as her family’s health history (see the “Homeopathic Typologies” section in The Introduction to Homeopathy for more information on what is meant by “constitutional medicine” and “constitutional treatment”).
This reference to differentiating prescriptions for acute or chronic conditions is important because there will be discussion forthwith of individuating homeopathic medicines for common problems of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Although several frequently prescribed medicines will be listed for various conditions, homeopaths may prescribe a fundamental or constitutional medicine rather than an acute medicine. It isn’t appropriate to list all possible constititional medicines here, both because there are so many of them and also because constitutional care should be provided by trained homeopaths.
Homeopaths find that the women who receive constitutional homeopathic treatment prior to becoming pregnant rarely seem to get morning sickness during pregnancy. For those that do get it, there are various homeopathic medicines that are often effective in diminishing the nausea, vomiting and indigestion common to morning sickness. Sepia (cuttlefish), Nux vomica (poison nut), Colchicum (meadow saffron), Silicea (silica), Ipecacuaha (Ipecac), Pulsatilla (windflower) and Symphoricarpus racemosa (snowberry) are but some of the more commonly indicated medicines for morning sickness. All these medicines are known to cause nausea and vomiting when given in overdose and will aid in its cure when given in the microdoses homeopaths use.
To get a sense of the individualization process used in homeopathic medicine, it is worthwhile to differentiate thosesymptoms indicate which medicine should be prescribed. Women who need Sepia, Colchicum, Ipecac, and Symphoricarpus are so nauseous that they cannot even stand the smell of food, though women who need Sepia may sometimes feel better after eating. Women who have constant nausea, not just in the morning, may need Ipecac, Nux, Silicea, and Symphoricarpus. Nausea that is ameliorated by lying down indicates Nux, Silica, or Symphoricarpus, while nausea that is aggravated by motion suggests Ipecac, Sepia, and Symphoricarpus. Nux is indicated for a type of woman who is highly irritable and who will have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and constipation worsened in the morning. She will also have a constant pain and pressure in the pit of the stomach and may desire alcohol. Pulsatilla is for emotional women who are weepy, moody, and indecisive and who have frequent burping of sour, rancid, hot food. She will have nightly diarrhea which tends to change frequently in its color and shape. Sepia is given for women who have deep feelings of dissatisfaction or indifference. She will have a sense of emptiness at the pit of her stomach, constipation, a bitter or saltish taste in her mouth, and if she is hungry at all, she will desire sour foods. There is general agreement amongst homeopaths that Sepia is the most common medicine prescribes for morning sickness. (More detail about each of these medicines are found in homeopathic texts called “materia medicas.” )
John Renner, M.D., a homeopath who practiced for over 50 years and who participated in thousands of births, found the best success in giving Aconite 3x (monkshood) and Bryonia 3x (wild hops) together every 30 minutes. If the woman’s symptoms are notnoticeably improved within six hours, another remedy should be considered.
It should be candidly noted that some homeopaths find that they successfully cure morning sickness, others find that it is difficult to cure. Homeopath and midwife Ananda Zaren advises, “Sometimes you have to give the woman her constitutional medicine and at other times the indicated acute medicine is necessary. Although morning sickness is sometimes difficult to treat, homeopathy and sound nutritional advice can provide a safe and sometimes effective treatment for this irritating problem.” Morning sickness is not considered a dangerous condition, but since it discourages proper and adequate nutrition, it does present certain risks for the fetus.
Since a homeopathic medicine is prescribed based on the basis of the totality of the symptoms the person is experiencing, it is common for women to experience not only relief of their morning sickness from the homeopathic medicines, but also noticeable lessening of various symptoms. It is, in fact, quite uncommon to see lasting improvement in nausea without concurrent general improvement in health. Although no homeopathic research has yet proven the medicines beneficial to the mother with morning sickness or to the fetus, clinical experience shows that the medicines have promise for the mother, and the consequential benefits to the fetus are inevitable.
Homeopathic medicines are a literal godsend for many pregnant women who wish to avoid conventional drugs during this special time in their life. The homeopathic medicines are invaluable in treating various irritating symptoms of pregnancy, including vaginal infections, bladder infections, herpes, insomnia, constipation, hemorrhoids, leg cramps, muscle aches, and skin eruptions. Jacques Imberechts, M.D., a respected Belgium homeopath, notes, “The homeopathic medicines are very effective in healing so many symptoms and syndromes of pregnancy that I have found that my patients rarely request or need anything other than homeopathic treatment.” Dr. Imberechts admitted that he has had difficulty in treating women who develop varicose veins during pregnancy, though he personally felt that constitutional care before and during pregnancy can possibly prevent this condition. Richard Moskowitz, M.D., a Boston homeopath, has found the best results with Pulsatilla and Hamamelis (witch hazel) in treating varicose veins. Marcel Simons, M.D., a Belgium obstetrician and homeopath, has also observed good results with these medicines as well as with Vipera (the German viper).
Homeopathic Medicines During Labor
Besides using the homeopathic medicines to diminish pain and discomfort of pregnancy, the medicines can also be used to prepare the women for the process of labor. Homeopaths have often cited numerous instances where the properly indicated medicine has helped to turn a breech baby. Pulsatilla is a common medicine for this, though the best medicine is generally the one medicine indicated based on the uniqueness of each woman’s symptoms. Ananda Zaren notes that the medicines can turn a breech baby late in pregnancy, though they seem to work faster in turning breech babies that occur early in pregnancy. Zaren asserts that a footling breech, a rare position during labor in which one foot or both come down first, represents a structural problem for the woman and cannot be treated effectively with homeopathic medicines.
By turning breech presentations, homeopathic medicines can change a higher risk pregnancy into a normal one. Because the medicines offer so much potential for benefit during pregnancy and little potential for side effects, homeopathic medicines will inevitably play a increasingly important role in childbirth in the near future and in the 21st century.
John George, M.D., a Seattle obstetrician and gynecologist, utilizes homeopathic medicines in his practice and has found, “In many ways the medicines facilitate the childbirth process for the woman and the physician. The medicines make it all go a lot more smoothly.” Specifically, Dr. George notes, “The correctly prescribed homeopathic remedy given in preparation and anticipation of labor is observed to prepare the cervix for labor by facilitating and softening, thinning out, and dilating the cervix prior to the onset of real labor. The second observation is that the labor pattern of contractions tends to be more orderly and efficient in progressing the birth. Thirdly, the amount of pain experienced during labor is markedly reduced, greatly lessening the need for analgesics and anesthesia.”
Ananda Zaren notes that constitutional medicines are rarely indicated during labor, since the process of childbirth creates stresses which require the use of medicine for acute symptoms. Zaren has found that the microdoses prevent problems during delivery, decrease delivery time, and increase the woman’s pain threshold so that she can deal with the pain of childbirth more easily.
Homeopaths, like good conventional physicians, will prefer not to prescribe any medicines if it seems that the labor is normal and healthy. The homeopath however has at his or her disposal several medicines which can help the process if there are any complications. Caulophyllum (blue cohosh), for example, is a medicine par excellence in strengthening uterine muscles which can help the process of labor. It is not the only medicine prescribed for this condition, though it is the most commonly given remedy. Generally, the 3, 6, 12, 30 or 200 potency is given if the woman’s labor is progressing slowly and if the woman has an undilated cervix which may be spasmodically rigid and with feeble contractions. Caulophyllum is also indicated if the contractions are irregular or if there’s atony (weakness) of the uterus during labor. Dr. Jacques Imberechts half-jokingly says, “When it seems like labor is beginning, you should call the taxi and then take Caulophyllum. If you take the medicine before you call the taxi, you’re likely to have that baby in the taxi.”
No scientific study has yet shown the value of Caulophyllum in childbirth in human beings. However, in a study of over 200 births in England, it was shown to reduce significantly the numbers of stillbirths in a herd of pigs with a high stillbirth rate. (15)
Respected British homeopath Douglas Borland recommended taking Caulophyllum 12 or 30 daily during the last two or three weeks of pregnancy as a way to strengthen and prepare the woman for childbirth. (16) Some other homeopaths feel that one should never routinely give Caulophyllum, but that each woman must be individually treated.
Belladonna (deadly nightshade) and Cimicfuga (black snakeroot) are two other commonly indicated medicines for helping in the process of labor. Belladonna is indicated when the woman experiences some of the characteristic symptoms of this medicine,which include an extreme nervousness and agitation, deliriousness, general flushing of the face and mucous membranes, and hot skin. Women who need Cimicfuga tend to be somewhat hysterical, frequently sighing, experiences spasmodic pains that seem to fly in various directions, and are intolerant of the pain. A characteristic symptom of those who need Cimicfuga is when the labor woman becomes very pessimistic about the labor, either proclaiming that “I can’t do it” or “this is driving me crazy; I can’t take it anymore.”
There are several other homeopathic medicines which should be considered, depending on the individual symptoms of the woman. Prescribing the homeopathic medicines during labor provides yet another opportunity to use the medicines as a safe and needed alternative to conventional medications.
Homeopathic Treatment of Mother and Infant
The process of labor can be exhausting. If the woman is worn out or if she has muscle aches from the physical exertion, Arnica (mountain daisy) is indicated. Arnica is discussed in greater detail in “Sports Medicine” for it is known as a superb medicine for aches and pains of overexertion and for shock and trauma of injury. Though childbirth is not exactly an “injury,” it does put a woman’s body through a certain degree of shock and trauma. Arnica is also valuable after delivery for the mother and the infant since it is so effective in helping a person recoup from the childbirth process. (The homeopathic medicines are safe for infants, though it is recommended to give only small sized homeopathic pellets–or crush the larger sized pellets into small pieces–so that the infant doesn’t choke on them. One can also place the pellets in water and then feed the infant with a clean teaspoon or dropper.
Homeopathic medicines can also be used to help the mother recuperate from the drama and trauma of labor which requires medical intervention. If an episiotomy or a caesarean is performed, homeopaths commonly give the woman Staphysagria (stavesacre), a major medicine that homeopaths give after surgery. Homeopaths have observed that women who take Staphysagria do not seem to request pain killers after labor as often as other women.
Dr. John George has found good results with Sulphur after a long or difficult labor. He also noted that “The stretching and tearing of the tissues around the bladder, perianal area, and vulva shower bacteria into the surrounding tissues and into the bloodstream which can cause a bladder infection or other complications, all of which Sulphur seems to prevent effectively.”
If the mother has torn her perineum during delivery, British homeopath Robert Davidson recommends Bellis perrenis 200c (daisy). He has found it work well in these internal injuries. Calendula tincture is also of value in speeding the healing process. This salve is generally applied with a wet sponge.
If the infant is asphyxiated, conventional medical measures are necessary, though homeopathic medicine can still increase the chances of survival. Antimonium tart (tartar emetic) is one of the most common medicines that homeopaths give to asphyxiated babies. A baby may seem dead, though more often he will have a rattling in his throat and breathing difficulties due to some phlegm blocking their respiration. Antimonium tart seems to help them remove it immediately. Generally, if Antimonium tart doesn’t work, Carbo veg (vegetable charcoal) or Camphor (camphor) may be needed. Those babies who require Carbo veg tend be cold and blue. Those babies who need Camphor will usually have a high fever, a deep redness over the entire abdomen and thighs, and tetanic spasms. Opium (opium)* is another homeopathic medicine which can be indicated if the baby is unconscious and rigid throughout the whole body. It also tends to be needed if the mother experienced a profound fear either during her pregnancy or during labor. Laurocerasus (cherry laurel) is valuable if the baby has a facial twitch when grasping for air. Arnica (mountain daisy) is indicated ofter a baby has experienced a traumatic delivery evidenced by a hematoma (blood and swelling) on the skull. Arnica is also indicated when the baby has a bodily stiffness like that of Opium, though these former babies will have a hot face, cold body, jerking respiration, and tremor of the limbs.
[* For quite illogical reasons, the FDA no longer allows the availability of this medicine, even in extreme microdoses.]
Homeopaths have found that the correctly prescribed medicine tends to work immediately, which, considering the circumstances, is necessary for the baby’s survival. The prescription of any of these medicines should not the delay other heroic medical measures necessary to aid the baby’s chances of survival.
Homeopaths also report success in treating neonatal jaundice. They find that the correct medicine can resolve this condition in one to three days. Conventional treatment usuallyrequires hospitalization in which the baby is put in an incubator and exposed to special fluorescent lights which break down bilirubin and encourages healthy liver function. It usually takes three days to two weeks to resolve this condition. Of particular significance, the incubation of the baby separates him or her from the mother, making breastfeeding difficult or impossible. This separation also significantly reduces the amount of skin-to-skin contact which is so valuable physiologically and psychologically to the infant…and to the mother.
Alphonse Teste, M.D., a famous 19th century French homeopath, has asserted that Aconite (monkshood) “will often suffice to cure the disease.” (17) If improvement isn’t observed within 24 hours, Nux vomica (poison nut), Chelidonium (celendine), Lycopodium (club moss), Chionanthus (fringe-tree), Bovista (puffball), or Natrum sulph (sulphate of sodium) should all be considered. Besides aiding women in pregnancy and labor, homeopathic medicines can be helpful to a mother who develops problems which make breastfeeding difficult. Before discussing some specifics of what homeopaths do in such conditions, it should first be emphasized that breastfeeding plays a very important role in providing the newborn baby with important antibodies, enzymes, and other essential nutrients that help the baby adapt to and thrive in his or her new surroundings. Women with mastitis, inflammation of the breast, need to be treated as soon as possible so that they can continue breastfeeding. Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, a well known pediatrician and author, feels that breastfeeding is so important that physicians and others should do all they can to encourage it. Dr. Mendelsohn counters those people who say it is disgusting to breastfeed in public by claiming it is more disgusting to bottlefeed in public.
One of the most common breast problems after childbirth is mastitis. Conventional treatment for this condition is simply antibiotics. Although these drugs work reasonably well, it certainly would be worthwhile to try an alternative treatment that is safe and effective, since the baby will end up receiving trace amounts of antibiotics through breastmilk. Belladonna, Bryonia, Phytolacca (pokeroot), and Lac caninum (dog’s milk) are the most commonly effective medicines for mastitis. Belladonna and Bryonia are most often given at the first first stages of mastitis. Belladonna is indicated when the woman has red, hot and swollen breasts, which like Lac caninum, are very sensitive to motion or jarring. Women who need Belladonna will have a high fever, congestion in the head, throbbing headache, and flushed face. Bryonia should be prescribed when the breasts have a stony hardness in them. The breasts will be hot and painful, but not very red. There may be a stitching pain which is worse from motion, especially by raising the arms. The woman will have dry lips, thirst and constipation.
Women who need Phytolacca have stony-hard and very painful breasts which are discharging pus. There may be an excessive flow of milk, though the nipples are so sensitive that nursing produces intense suffering that radiates all over the body. Women who need Lac caninum have sore and tender breasts that are particularly sensitive to motion or even the slightest jar. They experience pain while walking or sometimes by simple inspiration, though this pain diminishes if the woman supports her breasts when moving in any way.
There are numerous problems of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum which have not been discussed in this chapter. Since homeopathic medicines strengthen the overall health functioning of the individual, they can be applied in general to treat a wide variety of acute and chronic obstetrical conditions. The history and present worldwise use of these medicines provides some evidence of their value. Homeopathic medicines will probably not only be invaluable to our children in the 21st century, but to theirs too.
1. 1986 World Population Data Sheet, Population Reference Bureau (777 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 20005).
2. Richard W. Wertz and Dorothy C. Wertz, Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America, New York: Schocken, 1979, 137.
3. Ibid., 138.
4. Ibid., 136.
5. Fran Smith, “The Losing Battle to Reduce Caesareans,” San Jose Mercury News, February 17, 1985.
6. Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, New York: Bantam, 1984.
7. Ibid., 129-130.
8. Ibid., 132-133.
9. Ibid., 134.
10. World Health Organization, “Appropriate Technology for Birth,” Lancet, 8452, August 24, 1985, 436.
11. Korte and Scaer, 114-115.
12. Quoted in Herbert H. Keyser, Women Under the Knife, New York: Warner, 1984, 72.
13. Robert Mendelsohn, Male Practice: How Doctors Manipulate Women, Chicago: Contemporary, 1982.
14. Mark Dowie, “Terata,” Mother Jones, January, 1985.
15. C.E.I. Day, “Control of Stillbirths in Pigs Using Homoeopathy,” British Homoeopathic Journal, 73,3, July, 1984, 142-143.
16. D.M. Borland, Homoeopathy for Mother and Infant, New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint).
17. T.C. Duncan, Disease of Infants and Children and Their Homoeopathic Treatment, volume II, Chicago: Duncan Brothers, 1880, 492.
Ashford, Janet Ashford. “Trends in World Infant Mortality,” Childbirth Alternative Quarterly, Fall, 1986, 8,1, 13.
Borland, Douglas. Homoeopathy for Mother and Infants, Reprint. New Delhi: B. Jain.
Castro, Miranda. Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year, New York: St. Martins, 1992.
Edwards, Margot and Mary Waldot, Reclaiming Birth, Trumansburg, New York: Crossing Press, 1984.
Charles Fisher, A Handbook on the Diseases of Children and Their Homoeopathic Treatment, Chicago: Medical Century, 1895.
Henci Goer, “Are Cesareans Saving Babies?: A Review of the Medical Literature,” Childbirth Alternatives Quarterly, 7,4, Summer, 1986, 9-11.
Hamlin, Frederick W. A Manual of Practical Obstetrics, New York: Boericke and Runyon, 1908.
Hotchner, Tracy. Pregnancy and Childbirth, New York: Avon, 1979.
Moskowitz, Richard. Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth, Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1992.
Society of Homeopaths, Homeopathy in Pregnancy, Childbirth & Childhood, Proceedings from a seminar held November 1, 1980.
Tyler, Margaret. “Mastitis,” Homoeopathy, January, 1938, 3-8.
Yingling, W.A. The Accoucheur’s Emergency Manual. Reprint. New Delhi: B. Jain.