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.