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The Labour of Love…..How much does it have to Hurt?

You know it’s gonna hurt, but how much?

The pain of labour and childbirth is, as a great relief to men everywhere, something only women can experience, and for each woman, and each child she has, that experience will always be a highly personal one.

Pain relief in labour has come a long way over the past few decades, but some things remain the same. The Victorians used laudanum, an opiate based method of pain relief, and today we have pethidine, which acts in a similar way, although is commonly received intravenously rather than sniffed.

The most radical change to pain medication in labour was the introduction of epidural or spinal anaesthetic. These work by effectively blocking all sensation in the lower part of the body, meaning no pain is felt. However, the lack of sensation generally means a lack of control, a catheter is used to prevent bladder accidents, and mothers often need help in knowing when to push.

However, many mothers are now turning back to Nature to provide the remedy for the most natural pain in the world.

So what are my natural options?

Well, breathing for starters. The Lamaze method is probably best known for advocating breathing as a means of pain relief. Some women swear by it, in a mind-over-matter kind of way, others (myself included) find the impact of breathing on the pain limited in its effect when in the jaws of a belting contraction.

Water birthing is another natural way of easing the pain of contractions, which has increased hugely in popularity over recent years. Birthing pools can be used purely for pain relief, without needing to actually deliver in the water, and can offer the opportunity fro husbands or partners to get in the pool and feel a greater partcicpation in proceedings. Water deliveries tend to be far more hands off from a midwifery perspective, which can be appealing for those wanting the most natural experience, but can prove daunting for first-timers or those of a more nervous disposition.

Aromatherapy can be used during both pregnancy and labour. Specially blended labour oils can be purchased from a number of online retailers, or the more adventurous can mix their own. Clary Sage is particularly often used in labour mixes, described as Nature’s entonox, and other popular scents include Lavender for relaxation, citrussy notes such as mandarin or bergamot for vitality and finally, tea tree for its antispetic purposes. Ouch! Oils can be used in oil burners, in baths in the early stages of labour, or as a massage oil that can be applied by birthing partners at all stages. Always take care to use an appropriate carrier oil such as sweet almond when mixing for personal use and NEVER apply oils directly to the skin.

Gas and Air, Alternative and More Unusual Methods

The most well known form of pain relief is probably gas and air or entonox. This is most effective when breathed in deeply as the contraction begins, so that the gas can take effect when the apin of the contraction is at its height. The gas is expelled as you breathe out, so only remains in your system for a very short time, when yuo really need it most. Some mothers love the floaty sensations, others feel nauseous. If you are having trouble maintaining your breathing, then the effects will be reduced.

One method of improving your breathing control is to take up prenatal yoga. Qualified instructors can teach you relaxation and breathing strategies alongside the most effective yoga shapes for both pain relief and advancement of labour. Even if you are unale to find a class in your area, there are some excellent online resources that may help, or you could consider purchasing a DVD.

 Natal Hypnotherapy is a more recent trend in reducing or even eliminating labour pain. The concept is based on self- or partner-originated hypnosis that helps to make labour more managable. Natal Hypnotherapy offers either birth preparation courses (which run over 2 days or equivalent and are attended in person by a mum and her birth partner) or a range of home-study self-hypnosis cd’s. The aim is not only to convince the mind that the pain is managable, but also to prepare women to be ready and confident for the birth.

So which method should I choose?

Any woman’s pain relief option in labour should be a decision for her, or in consultation with her partner. Keeping an open mind can be advantageous, especially for first-time moms, as you can’t know what the pain will feel like until you are actually experiencing it.

If you do feel very strongly that you do not want to use a particular method of pain relief, then do tell your birthing partner, as the strength of your convictions is likely to wane with each hour of labor, and he or she can gently remind you of your intentions. He or she should also be prepared to be insulted when making this helpful comment.

Finally, the ultimate way to stop the pain is to deliver your baby. The adrenaline combined with pure joy (either at meeting your child or just getting it out) makes the pain instantly vanish, allowing you to enjoy those precious first moments with the new addition to your family.

Article courtesy of Big Ugly Baby

The Natural ‘New Mothers Toolkit’

The Natural New Mothers Toolkit 

Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is a special, precious time and some mothers feel at their closest to Nature at this point. Whether planning for a natural birth or not, Nature has its own tips and tricks to help you through those last few weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks with the new baby.

There are numerous old wives’ tales that recommend various substances to help induce labor. In most cases, the baby will arrive when its good and ready, but there are some tips and tricks that can help from 36 weeks onwards.

Raspberry Leaf is often quoted as helping to bring labor on, but in reality it merely contains an ingredient that helps tone the uterus. This means that labor is likely to be shorter, and contractions more effective, meaning there is less chance of intervention in the shape of forceps or ventouse. Raspberry Leaf can be taken as a tea, where three to five cups a day should be taken, or can also be taken as an oral capsule.

Evening Primrose Oil capsules, often helpful in easing pre-menstrual syndrome can also be taken during this period, to ease cramps and early labor pains.

Lavender essential oil can be used in pregnancy from the second trimester onwards, and in the last couple of weeks, Clary Sage can also be added to baths or incense burners. Clary Sage has a muscle relaxing effect, and is often described as Nature’s entonox, so heady is its perfume. Preparing a massage oil for labor containing Lavender, Clary Sage and Jasmine can serve as a natural form of pain relief when in the delivery room.

Finally, fresh pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which is believed to help soften the cervix, thus stimulating labor, however, the quantities found in each pineapple are insufficient on their own to be of a huge effect. Still, this may be helpful for those who like eating pineapple…

Post natal aids


Adding 5 drops of each of Lavender and Tea tree Oil in a bath, or a sitz (shallow) bath will aid relaxation, and help heal tender, bruised areas and sutures, as well as keeping this sensitive area clean without the need for scrubbing.


On around day 3 P.B (post baby) the colostrum your breasts have been producing is replaced by regular breast milk. However, at this early stage, your body doesn’t know how much milk it needs to make, so it plays it safe and makes bucketfuls! Your breasts will become very full, and likely sore, but on the plus side you could give Pammy a run for her money with your impressive looking equipment. Use raw cabbage leaves, preferably Savoy cabbage as it’s softer inside your nursing bra, to help ease the pain of engorgement when milk comes in, and help prevent mastitis.

Mastitis occurs when milk ducts get blocked and often happens when the baby is not latching on properly, thereby not fully draining the breast at a feed. Engorgement can make it hard for the baby to latch on as the breast is so hard the baby is unable to draw enough of the nipple and surrounding areola into its mouth. To help, try placing warm flannels on the breast to help encourage a little milk out, reducing the pressure, or try a little hand expression until the nipple area has softened.

After the initial overdose, your milk supply will settle down once your body works out how much milk it needs to produce each day. Few women will actually suffer from a poor or insufficient milk supply, but fennel is both good for the digestive system, and can also help with milk supply. Drinking 3 to 5 cups of fennel tea a day will ensure babies are well fed, and also eases wind and colic pain in both mother and baby.

Baby’s Skin

Baby’s skin is brand new and very sensitive when it first emerges into the world. Although it is tempting to use all the various lotions and potions on the market when washing and changing your new baby, the harsher cleansing ingredients are not really necessary, and warm water will normally suffice. Also beware of over-bathing, as this can dry out a baby’s skin very quickly. Areas that get dirty quickly, like face and bottom should be cleaned daily, but just using warm water and cotton wool, cooled boiled water for cleaning eyes, is fine.

If problems do develop, cornflour can be used to help weeping diaper rash. Just sprinkle a small amount in when changing. Barrier creams like Vaseline will help prevent further inflammation.

Honey can also be rubbed into dry skin areas to add moisture, and can also help heal cuts. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is another simple alternative to chemical creams, particularly for dry and diaper skin.

Post Natal Illness

Post natal illness is, it is believed, far more common than people think. Most mothers will experience the ‘baby blues’ which arrive about day 5-7 and last for two or three days. This is perfectly normal, is due to huge fluctuations in hormone levels following the birth, and will pass very quickly.

If, on the other hand, you or someone you are close to are suffering from longer bouts of sadness, listlessness or tearfulness, or feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness, this could be a symptom of post natal illness. If you are having these feelings, or worse, please speak to your doctor as soon as possible- he or she will be able to assess your condition and recommend suitable treatment. Although some anti-depressant medication is not recommended for use when nursing, including Prozac, there are other types available that can be used as and when appropriate. Although St John’s Wort is a recognised herbal alternative to anti-depressant medication, use of any such remedy should always be discussed with a medical practitioner first, to ensure its suitability and safety.

Article Courtesy of BigUglyBaby

Controlling and Preventing Nappy Rash Naturally

Natural Ways to Heal Nappy Rash

What causes Nappy Rash?

Most babies will suffer the dreaded nappy rash at some point, but it should never be a regular occurence, and if it is then the root causes need addressing. ‘Nappy Rash‘ is caused by prolonged skin contact with irritants such as moisture, friction or by chemical substances found in nappy materials. Contrary to popular belief, cloth nappies are not a leading cause of nappy rash, in fact quite the opposite. Instances of nappy rash increased dramatically alongside the arrival of the disposable nappy, with all of its adhesives, plastics and chemicals- and in turn, along came the nappy rash creams- which now go hand in hand. How handy for the manufacturers!

Natural Nappy Rash Cures

But anyway, should your child suffer from a bout of the rash, there are many simple and natural remedies which should see the back of it quickly:

  • *A tablespoon of Bicarbonate of Soda in the bath water will help to sooth sore bottoms
  • *Creams which contain Calendula works miracles on nappy rash- Green Peoples Soothe and Calm Baby Balm contains organic Calendula and should see the back of any soreness when applied over night. Its the miracle cream in our house!
  • *Breastmilk. Breastmilk has natural antibacterial properties and is a sterile solution making it the perfect natural cure for a host of skin problems, also including eczema. Wash the affected area with milk to ensure it is clean, then apply a thin layer of breastmilk and allow it to dry.
  • *A couple of drops of Chamomile Oil and Lavender Oil in a bowl of warm water helps to heal nappy rash when applied with cotton wool
  • * CJ’s BUTTer– This is an all natural cream which does a fantastic job on all skin ailments, including nappy rash and eczema

Preventing Nappy Rash

But we all know that prevention is better than the cure, and by following a few simple rules, your child should be free from soreness most of the time.

  • *Change nappies frequently
  • *Opt for re-usable wipes instead of disposable wipes. Commercial wipes are often full of chemicals, moisturisers and fragrances which act as irritants- when you consider that wipes make excellent paint strippers, its no wonder they can cause problems to a babies delicate skin
  • *Allow plenty of ‘naked time’. Fresh air is the best nappy rash preventative, and babies love it too!
  • *Breastfeed. Infant diets affect stool acidity, and breastfed babies are less susceptible to nappy rash

Should the problem persist, despite the measures listed, consult your GP as the problem might be fungal.

Todays Top Tip :4

 The All Purpose Natural Cleaner

Forget Cillit Bang, there is a much simpler, cheaper and chemical free alternative probably already in your cupboards! Simply fill a spray bottle with water, add a splosh of distilled white vinegar (found in the supermarket) and a splash of lemon juice and spray away! Vinegar is a powerful disinfectant and deodoriser and this combination can be used pretty much anywhere around the home- a true mulit-purpose cleaner, and without the fear of harmful chemicals being around your baby!