If you’ve been following any birth or newborn photographers on social media, you’ve likely seen the gorgeous images of a mom and her new baby soaking in a tub of tea-colored water. There are usually rose petals or orchids floating on the surface and a blissed-out mom and baby relaxed and soaking up the nourishing water and relaxing scents.
As you can imagine, growing a baby and giving birth are hard work. Women are practicing self-care by utilizing the healing and relaxation properties of a postpartum herbal bath. Postpartum herbal bath, chocked full of herbs that fight inflammation and promote healing in the skin and tissues, can not only be a way to provide comfort for a sore body, but it can be a beautiful opportunity to bond with a freshly born baby.
Postpartum herbal bath, which includes plantain, comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, and a variety of other healing herbs, can be added to boiling water, but removed from the heat of the stove. The herbs should steep for 20 minutes, and then be strained. What remains is a powerful brew that can be used to heal and comfort sore and bruised tissues, combat inflammation, and promote relaxation and well-being.
The herbal bath brew can be used in many ways:
1. It can be added to a bathtub of warm water for a relaxing soak. This can not only be a way for mom to relax, but it can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and bond with baby as well.
2. The herbal brew can be added to a peri-bottle to rinse mom’s bottom after using the restroom.
3. The brew can be added to a maxi-pad and frozen to be used as a perineal ice pack to soothe swollen tissues. Conversely, using the herbal brew on a warm compress can be a comforting relief.
4. It may also be conveniently added to a sitz bath to soak mom’s bottom in the day following birth.
If you are planning an upcoming birth and want to treat yourself and baby, consider a warm soak in a relaxing herbal bath. You and your baby worked hard, you both deserve it.
**Please check with your care provider before taking a bath in the immediate days postpartum.**
Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and exposed blood vessels in the rectum, are perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear from expecting and postpartum parents. Some find they have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, while others get them postpartum, likely from pushing.
During pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels cause the walls of the veins to relax, increasing the likelihood of swelling. Progesterone levels can also cause constipation in expecting mothers, particularly in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. With increased swelling, constipation, and the growing uterus adding pressure to the inferior vena cava, hemorrhoids can become a common and unpleasant pregnancy symptom.
Eat well and supplement to make sure stools remain soft. Don't strain. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep constipation at bay. Leafy greens, fruits, beans, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber. Supplementing with magnesium is also known to help keep bathroom habits comfortable and regular. I love this magnesium supplement and add it to my daily smoothies. Regular exercise can also encourage mobility in the bowel.
Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic that can reduce discomfort and itchiness. Witch hazel is also an astringent, which contracts the tissues to minimize bleeding. After wiping, dip a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to the area.
Sitz Baths are a basin that sits in the toilet bowel and can be used to soak your bottom in warm water. Not only can a sitz bath keep the area clean, but the warmth of the water can be comforting and also increases blood flow to the area encouraging healing.
Using cold compresses or ice packs can reduce pain and swelling in the area. Alternating between hot and cold throughout the day is ideal.
Kegeling can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent internal hemorrhoids from being exposed. The exercise can also increase blood flow to the pelvic area, promoting healing of existing hemorrhoids.
Potatoes! Using a cheese grater, shred a raw potato. Use the grated pieces of potato to make poultice and place it next to the hemorrhoid (do not insert into the rectum). This is reported to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoid.
A diet high in vitamin C is known to strengthen blood vessels and can help prevent hemorrhoids. An added bonus of vitamin C is it also maximizes iron absorption.
We have had the honor of providing childbirth classes in Baltimore since 2014. There are many reasons we love and use the Birth Boot Camp curriculum to prepare couples for an amazing birth. The materials are unmatched and the curriculum, which is updated with current statistics and research yearly, is the most modern and comprehensive we have found.
Since the program was launched in 2011, it has had amazing growth. Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes are now taught throughout the United Stated, as well as in Canada and Guam. The latest, and potentially most exciting change, has just been announced. In addition to the comprehensive 10-week childbirth series, Birth Boot Camp will now offer 5 new classes to meet the different needs of birthing couples.
Training Couples for an Amazing Out-of-Hospital Birth
This class gives you all the tools and information you need to know about the nuts and bolts of labor. We will discuss the stages and variations of labor and tools to keep labor pain and discomfort at a minimum. Waterbirth, labor positions, and relaxation techniques are also addressed. This 4-series class is $220 and includes a beautiful color workbook.
Homecoming: Life with a New Recruit
Get parenthood off to a great start with this 2-series class. Topics include: postpartum health, newborn procedures, babywearing, breastfeeding, and safe sleep. This class includes a workbook and a 3.5 hour breastfeeding video download, which discusses feeding positions, common challenges, and pumping and returning to work. The fee is $115
Food & Fitness
Aside from preparation, staying low risk increases the likelihood of meeting your birth goals. Join us for this 3 hour workshop to discuss how eating well and preparing your body can be the most effective way to remain low risk. We will discuss nutrients that are crucial to a maternal diet as well as exercises and stretches to promote flexibility and stamina, giving you the most comfort during pregnancy and birth. This class includes a workbook. The fee is $95.
Classes coming in January 2018 include:
Coping Strategies for an Amazing Birth
Training for an Amazing Hospital Birth
Maybe you are looking to have a natural birth experience? Or perhaps, you plan on getting that epidural as soon as you get to the hospital! No matter what your ideal birth looks like, the majority of women will benefit from some great natural pain relief options and techniques to help them get through contractions!
Labor is so aptly named, as it is the purposeful hard work you do, on the final journey to meet your baby! During labor your body goes through incredible physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. This transformation of birth is often accompanied by a substantial degree of discomfort. Of course laboring women want to mitigate pain, but short of using pharmacological interventions, how do you really reduce pain in labor and birth? You support your body’s own natural pain relieving abilities! Here is the key to natural pain relief: During birth you want to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone produced in response to stress, and catecholamines, the ‘fight or flight’ hormones, produced in response of fear. And you want to increase oxytocin and beta-endorphin levels, to help facilitate labor, provide a sense of euphoria, and alleviate pain. The following seven natural pain relief options for birth help your body balance specific hormones, to ease labor discomforts.
Educating yourself about pregnancy, labor, and birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Education serves as an important natural pain relief tool, because you are replacing fear of the unknown with information and excitement about your birth. When you know what to expect from the birth process, it becomes much easier to cope with the pain of labor. You can educate yourself by taking a comprehensive childbirth course, read birth stories, and find informational and supportive books about the birth process. Knowing what to expect will build your confidence and prove to be a powerful pain relief tool!
There are several facets to relaxation that you should consider. You want to create a relaxing birth environment and learn to relax, both physically and emotionally. Employing this trifecta will serve as exceptional natural pain relief during labor. First, you want to create a relaxing birth environment. Curating a serene atmosphere with dim lighting, candles, aromatherapy, and calming music can get the oxytocin flowing, and ease tension to help you enjoy labor.
It is also important to relax both physically and emotionally. A recent study suggests engaging in relaxation exercises, through a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy, can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. This mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, is a fantastic training tool to help you engage in relaxation wherever you are. There are also several simple, but effective exercises that will teach you how to relax your muscles during times of tension and stress. To benefit most from these physical and emotional relaxation exercises, set aside time once or twice per day during your pregnancy. Relaxation training can truly help you have an amazing birth experience.
Your baby must navigate down and out through your pelvis during labor and birth. Movement is key in facilitating this, and serves as an important pain relief strategy for you. Getting into a more upright position, or even just changing positions regularly can really help you manage even the most intense contractions. Movement can speed up a slow labor, help a posterior baby turn into a more optimal (and less painful!) position, and help you get a little more comfortable. Consider taking a walk, spending time on a birth ball, or use the support of your partner’s body to sway through contractions. Finding rhythm and ritual through movement is a fantastic pain coping mechanism.
Hydrotherapy is a scientifically proven natural, stress reducing and pain relief technique. Laboring in a warm bath can provide an incredible level of pain reduction. Taking a hot shower can be exceptionally relaxing, while helping you get upright, which helps baby move down and through your pelvis.
Acupressure is based on principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine, an ancient and holistically focused wellness practice. Utilizing and applying direct pressure to specific points on the body during labor, may provide you with phenomenal pain relief. Acupressure is a wonderfully convenient and cost-effective pain relief tool. You can take advantage of the benefits almost anywhere, and without any special equipment. When direct and appropriate pressure is applied to this area of the back and on the feet, relief from uncomfortable back labor may be alleviated, almost effortlessly.
The demonstrated pain relief benefits of massage during labor are extensive. There are both physical and emotional advantages to massage therapy during labor and birth. It can relax tense muscles, easing the pain of contractions, shorten labor, facilitate rest, ease anxiety, and promote a sense of serenity. Your partner or birth support person can help you access the amazing pain relief options of massage by following these techniques.
Having a supportive birth team is one of the most effective natural pain relief tools available! It is crucial to find a provider you trust, who encourages your birth philosophy, educate your birth partner, and hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula as a powerful natural pain relief option. With dedicated labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience and require less medical pain management. Doulas can provide comfort with numerous pain-relief techniques that help reduce anxiety and fear, support physical and emotional relaxation, promote an uncomplicated physiological birth, and facilitate a positive birth environment.
Birth can be a joyous occasion for the the entire family. With the right preparation, support, and natural pain relief options, you can absolutely have the best (and possibly pain-free) birth experience. If you would like more natural pain relief tips, tools, and techniques, enroll in our Natural Pain Relief Strategies For Labor Workshop. This incredible class helps couples gain an amazing sense of self-reliance, so they can cope with labor beautifully.
The Nurturing Root loves to support and educate families in Baltimore. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation, and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!