Birth and Labor
Can I Use Herbs During Labor?
Yes, herbs can be very useful during labor and after birth to ease pain, calm emotions, and help speed recovery. The following herbs have been use for years by midwives and birthing women. See our Resources/Plants page for photos and more detailed information on several of these herbs.
Many herbs can help ease the pain of contractions:
Other herbs help with emotional balance during labor:
Kathryn Higgins writes on the births of her three daughters:
I decided on a home birth with my first child, but we lived in the mountains in Colorado, far from a hospital. When my water broke and I went into labor, my husband and I drove to my midwfe’s home in town, where we would be closer to a hospital in case of any unforeseen emergency. An intense, 30 hour labor, gave me plenty of opportunity to use pain-relieving tinctures of crampbark and scullcap. But I had only dilated to three centimeters, and it was time to go to the hospital because of the increasing chance of infection. Now, hooked up to fetal monitors and pitocin, my cervix still would not dialate. Our first daughter (Silencia Deva) was born by cesarean with her head tilted back, and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times. I was told she would have suffocated had she ever entered the birth canal. I was grateful for the herbs that helped me through a long labor, as well as for the medical expertise that saved our lives. As soon as I returned home from the hospital, I put mashed comfrey leaves on the cesarean cut and today I happily have no visible scar.
I was confident that I could have a successful vaginal birth with my second child, but my husband was not willing to try a home birth again. The local hospital had beautiful birthing rooms, where I was encouraged to use my herbal tinctures during labor when I needed them. Soon after the birth of our second daughter (Zenna Serene), I took crampbark tincture to prevent any afterbirth cramping and slow after birth bleeding. I continued to take this tincture several times a day for three days.
Zenna’s heart defect was discovered the day after she was born. The sitz bath and homeopathic arnica were invaluable to me, as I walked and sat comfortably through three days of tests and many appointments.
I was two weeks overdue in my third pregnancy. After consulting with my nurse midwife, I took a dose of blue cohosh tincture. Six hours later I went into labor. When we arrived at the hospital, once again I was only dilated to three centimeters. But in less than an hour of soaking in a warm tub, with my oldest daughter pushing the pressure points on my lower back, I was ready to push. The birth of our third daughter (Jasmin Jencine) went very quickly. I walked and squatted as we waited for the placenta to expel. But unknown to us at this time, the placenta had adhered to the uterine wall at my previous cesarean scar, and I was hemorrhaging internally. The warm blood came gushing out as the doctor on call prepared to do an emergency hysterectomy. My husband squeezed a dropperful of fresh shepherds purse tincture into my mouth. Almost instantly the bleeding “miraculously” stopped, and an incredulous doctor removed the placenta with a D&C, instead of the planned hysterectomy.
So remember to call on herbs to help you, as they did me, minimize the pain, promote rapid healing after the birth, and reduce the need for drug interventions, as you go through this joyous time of transformation.