I remember the ultrasound when I found out my first baby was feet down at 37 weeks. Yikes! I was sent into a whirlwind of worry and distress. If you find yourself with similar news about your upside down baby, and if you'd like to encourage him to get in the best position for childbirth, look at this page that offers many suggestions for "spinning babies."
Homeopathic Remedies for Back Labour and Posterior Presentation
by Piper Martin, DS Hom. Med.
© 2001 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Editor's note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 58, Summer 2001.]
Homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective means of treating a woman experiencing back labour. Homeopathic medicine along with comfort measures such as counterpressure, hydrotherapy and positioning are very positive means of assisting the baby to move into the most desirable position for birth and result in more effective contractions with a shorter and a less painful labour for the mother. Homeopathic remedies are easy to administer and act quickly and dynamically to alleviate back pain. They should be given in the following manner:
Use a 200C potency of the appropriate remedy.
Tip the remedy pellets into the lid of the container and place directly into the woman's mouth; avoid touching with your hands.
Use a 1:10 time frame to assess the effectiveness of your remedy. If the woman has been experiencing back labour for three hours you should begin to see a change in the location of the pain within 18-20 minutes. If the remedy does not seem to be reacting in your time frame you may want to continue observing and talking to your client until another remedy picture is clear to you.
Administering an incorrect remedy will do no harm; the result will be that there is no effect.
There are several remedies that can be quite effective in alleviating the pain of back labour. They may cause the baby to shift positions or even turn from a posterior presentation.* Following are several remedies that present with pain in the back and the differential diagnosis for each:
Case: "Charlotte" was in labour for four hours. She was experiencing most of the contractions in her lower back. The midwife told me that the baby had been posterior for the entire pregnancy. I gave Charlotte a single dose of Kali Carbonicum 200C. The midwife checked Charlotte's dilation at this point and she was six centimeters. After two contractions the baby had turned and Charlotte began experiencing contractions in her abdomen. One hour later she delivered her daughter.
Kali Carbonicum (potash)
Pains experienced in the lumbar region
Very severe pains in the back, as if her back would break
Desires constant pressure on her back
Pain may pass from the back through the gluteal muscles with cutting pain in the abdomen
Extremely chilly to the point of trembling
Touchy, both mentally and physically—is worse from being touched
Worse 2-4 a.m.
Gelsemium (yellow jasmine)
This is a remedy used for a woman who is about to begin pushing but the baby appears to ascend rather than descend with each contraction.
Pains from the uterus up the back or extending to the back and hips
Nervous chills up the back
Baby appears to ascend rather than descend with each contraction
May lose her dilation during a pelvic exam
Dullness—heavy eyelids, flushed and puffy face
Drowsy and listless—sleepy when she should be pushing
Performance anxiety—this woman may be feeling pressured to perform
Cimicifuga (black cohosh)
Cimicifuga is an excellent remedy when there is lack of progress at any stage of labour. The labour pains of Cimicifuga are present but they are not effective. Cimicifuga will help dilate the cervix.
Misplaced labour pains felt in the back, hips and thighs instead of the uterus
Pains may shoot up and down the thighs or across the pelvis from hip to hip
Cramping in the large muscles
Fear that something bad will happen
Talks incessantly to relieve her fear
Sensitive to noise
Worse from cold
May become hysterical with the pain
Coffea Cruda (unroasted coffee)
Faints due to pain and hyper-excitement of the nervous system
Oversensitivity to pain, despair from pain
All senses more acute
Sleeplessness after delivery (great for midwives and doulas after too much coffee and excitement from attending a birth)
Only pain experienced is in the small of her back
May cry out or scream with extreme fear
Nux Vomica (poison nut)
Irregular pains when the labour does not progress
Ineffectual labour pains extend to the back and rectum
Desire to move the bowels and to urinate—she will comment on this feeling often
Major remedy for fainting during labour
Inflammation or fever after labour with a desire to have a bowel movement
Irritable and impatient
Oversensitive to all external impressions
A woman who has experienced severe back labour or an epidural may have residual pain after delivery. I would strongly recommend that Hypericum 200C and Arnica 200C be given for three days following labour for women who are experiencing back or neck pain or headaches. They should take the remedies twice a day in alternating doses, to alleviate the discomfort and assist with the healing process. I would also recommend chiropractic adjustments to help the mother recover fully.
Piper Martin, B.Ed., DS Hom. Med., is a classical homeopath who specializes in pregnancy and newborn care and is a consultant for doulas, midwives and naturopaths. She practices in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada at The Equinox Center for Natural Health. She is the mother of Gabriel, a four-year-old boy. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using Homeopathy to Turn Babies by Patty Brennan
Understanding and Teaching Optimal Foetal Positioning by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott
Breech Birth: Woman-Wise by Maggie Banks
Sit Up and Take Notice! Positioning Yourself for a Better Birth by Pauline Scott
Breech Birth by Benna Waites
Moxibustion is an evidence-based technique from Tradiional Chinese Medicine for turning breech babies. Non-invasive and certainly worth a try. Also, homeopathy, if you are comfortable with that approach. Here is a relevant passage from my "Guide to Homeopathic Remedies for the Birth Bag":
To Change an Unfavorable Presentation Prior to Onset of Labor
Approximately four weeks before the due date, in conjunction with the usually recommended exercises for breech or posterior presentation, homeopathic intervention may assist the baby in getting into a favorable birthing posi¬tion. The program can be started earlier than four weeks if the woman is very short-waisted and baby consistently prefers to be breech or posterior, or later if there is plenty of room and baby's position has been changeable. Even in labor, remedies are worth a try, but chances for success are reduced after the bag of waters has broken or the presenting part has engaged in the pelvis.
First, determine whether there seems to be a normal amount of amniotic fluid around the baby. Too much fluid will keep the baby buoyant and the uterus overextended, so the baby can just float into an undesirable position. Too little fluid will likewise be problematic as the breech baby will not have enough buoyancy to turn. If fluid levels seem to be off in either direction, try the water-balancing tissue salt Natrum Muriaticum. Suggested regimens for varying potencies are as follows (see what works for you):
6X 3 times per day for 1 week or
30C 2 times per day for 3 days or
200C once per day for 3 days or
Choice of potency may depend on what is available to you and how much time you have to work with this problem. Discon¬tinue any dosing if you don't get results or once the baby has turned.
Now, if fluid levels feel normal, then Pulsatilla is the remedy of choice and the one that has the longest reputation in the homeopathic literature for turning babies. According to Farrington (in his Clinical Materia Medica), Pulsa¬tilla acts on the muscular walls of the uterus and stimulates their growth. Sometimes the uterus develops more on one side than another during preg¬nancy, and with this irregularity, the baby assumes an irregular position. Pulsa¬tilla may alter this uneven growth and permit the baby to assume the proper position.
If the woman does not fit the overall Pulsatilla or Natrum Muri¬aticum symptom pictures, or the baby needs to remain in his/her present position for whatever reason, the remedy may not work. If it does work, it is a most gentle intervention indeed, effecting changes in the baby's environment rather than impacting the baby directly.
For more context on homeopathics, see http://center4cby.com/guid