Warning to men readers! It would be great for you to read this so you know what your partner’s amazing body goes through, but keep in mind I am not sugar coating anything.
So what does a holistic approach to pregnancy, labor and postpartum care even mean?
Holistically minded approach means a few things to me.
- Thinking about your entire body as a whole, mindset included.
- Knowing your body was meant to do the things. Meaning birth, heal, thrive, etc. without the use of synthetic substances. It really is an amazing thing.
- Trying to support and assist your body using natural therapies.
- Using conventional western approach as a last resort, but understanding it is there if needed.
Don’t get me wrong western medicine is great and I have worked in a facility for over a decade where that is its entire focus, but I also believe in trying more natural options first which will expose you to less side effects. Ultimately in the case of pregnancy and birth, that means potentially better outcomes for both you and baby. I will always want to try less invasive, less toxic routes first knowing I always have conventional western medicine options to fall back on and utilize if necessary.
So let’s dive right into my journey and how I had a holistically minded approach to pregnancy, labor and postpartum care.
This stage involves 4 tiers: movement, nutrition, body support and mindset.
- This could be walking, yoga, swimming, weight lifting. The key here to not start something new.
- Pelvic floor strengthening exercises, prescribed by my physical therapist. Here are a few on their website.
- Not much different for me than what I was doing before. The things I focus on are nutrient dense, vegetable heavy, low in sugar and lots of fermented foods.
- Good quality medical grade or food based supplements. You can find medical grade supplements here, including my favorites in the product catalog.
- Prenatal Vitamin. I use one from Pure Encapsulations.
- Organ complex supplement (use code EMBRACEWELLNESS15 for 105% off)
- Spore based probiotic (use code embrace for 15% off) – toward end of pregnancy
- Vitamin D
- Fish oil
- Chiropractic care. This compliments the physical therapy in ensuring your pelvis is aligned and your body is in optimal positioning for birth.
- Traditional Medicinals Raspberry Leaf Tea. This is a great women’s tea whether you are in reproductive years or not. According to Mama Natural, studies have shown it to help with menstrual discomfort, balancing hormones, strengthens uterus and pelvic area and it is rich in many vitamins and minerals. Specific to pregnancy it may reduce morning sickness, improve strength of amniotic sac, during labor may improve effectiveness of contractions and reduce pain by toning the muscles used and postpartum can help balance hormones and bring in milk. I drank this close to daily during most of my pregnancy and will continue to drink after baby. Recommendation to not start until trimester 2.
- MIN herbal tincture, which contains alfalfa, nettles, oatstraw, horsetail, raspberry leaf, dulse, yarrow, chamomile, dill seed. Great for overall energy, hormones and well being.
- Practicing gratitude daily.
- Reminding myself my body was made to do this.
- Having conversations with my husband for support and encouragement.
- It is exciting and scary all at the same time, but I promise YOU CAN DO IT!
Issue specific concerns
- Epsom salt baths are great for detoxification, relaxation and weight release. Add some relaxing and calming essential oils to the salt before adding to the bath.
- doTERRA aromatouch oil for rib and muscle tension.
- Heating pack was great for my back.
- I was lucky to not have any specific health issues or abnormal symptoms. There are plenty of women that aren’t so lucky. Consider checking out other herbal tinctures, essential oils or homeopathy medications as a first line of defense before other traditional meds.
This stage is all about support – physically, mentally, emotionally.
We hired a doula with our first and second child. A doula is someone that is there to help be a coach, empower and advocate for you and baby. They provide emotional and physical support during labor and also educational support leading up to labor and postpartum. They can’t provide medical advice but can help give you options and support both you and your partner during the process. Also, important to us was the help with pain relief techniques as a medication free labor was a priority for us. Due to the speed of my labor with our second baby, we opted not to have one present with our third child but did meet with one prior to birth to review techniques.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%.
In addition to having a doula present, here are some other tactics to consider that helped me.
- Laboring in a bathtub. This releases pressure and helps with relaxation. I was only able to do this with my first, because of the speed of which my second and third progressed.
- Consider positions other than lying in bed.
- Hanging over the side of the bed
- Hands and knees in bed
- Utilize a birthing ball.
- Massage and / or pressure. I have had back labor with all three of my babies so having my husband there to apply pressure to my low back was imperative during each contraction.
- Tennis ball. If your partner’s hands get tired, consider rubbing a tennis ball over your needed areas.
- doTERRA Deep Blue lotion. The cooling and soothing effects is helpful with my typical back labor.
Labor is no joke but I also think no one talks about postpartum pain! Postpartum pain is sometimes worse than the labor itself because it’s not short lived and gets worse with every pregnancy. My personal experience was just that, this postpartum was worse than the last and it felt like one symptom would start to do better and one would get worse. Or maybe you just have amnesia because in the end you do it all and the amazing outcome of a sweet baby takes over your memories instead of the pain.
Let me walk you through some of the ways I managed my symptoms. The main tiers in this category are symptom management, body support and rest.
Immediate post birth
- doTERRA Breathe Drops. I tend to be vocal during labor and often have a sore throat. These are a great alternative to conventional cough drops.
- Uterine contractions support. After having a baby they are checking your uterus and bleeding at set intervals. What that means is they come and push on your stomach and you feel some lovely sensations. In addition to that, often times uterine contractions are felt when a mom is nursing her baby. This gets more intense with each pregnancy. My doula recommended an herbal tincture that I used and it helped. Wishgarden AfterEase herbal remedy: 2 droppers mixed with water as needed.
- Back cramping / tense / sore. This persisted for me post labor. I was likely sore from the labor but also had some cramping as the uterine contracting subsided. Again, my body just contracts in my back and front, so that may not be the case with all. doTERRA Deep Blue lotion and heating pack helped me here.
- Perineum care
- doTERRA Essential Oil DIY spray (instead of dermoplast numbing spray) – this is great for postpartum to help heal and soothe. It is a mixture of Lavender, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium, Helichrysum (10-20 drops of each) mixed with a little bit of fractionated coconut oil, witch hazel and the rest water.
- Ice pads, hospital provided to help with swelling.
- Witch hazel pads.
- Nipples. I have breast fed all three of my babies and had a different experience with all three. This particular baby latched right away. He has a VERY strong suck but struggles to get his mouth open enough. What that means for momma – sore, raw, bloody nipples! No fun. I started using Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter day 2. There is a medication cream the hospital can provide called Hales which is a mix of hydrocortisone and polysporin ointment. I went ahead and had them order it so I would have it as a backup, but only used it three times.
- Continue raspberry tea.
- doTERRA Essential Oils for constipation. I have not needed any assistance here, likely due to not using narcotic medications but there is definitely potential to have constipation. Some oils to consider tossing in your bag would be Rosemary, Lemon, Wild Orange, Ginger, Peppermint, Fennel and / or DigestZen.
- doTERRA Peppermint Essential Oil. During labor or days after for energy boost (rub on hands and inhale or diffuse).
- Let people help you!
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat nutritionally sound meals.
- Epsom salt baths. Add some relaxing and calming essential oils to the salt before adding to the bath.
- Heat before feeds.
- Self expression of some milk or pumping for a couple minutes.
- Cool ice packs in between feeds to help with swelling.
- Reusable organic cotton pads for leaking.
- Cypress, geranium and helichrysum essential oils mixed with fractionated coconut oil directly on area. Also can add to epsom salt for baths.
- Sitting on pillows.
- Heating pack.
- Resting to avoid straining.
- Chiropractic care for self and baby.
- Continue supportive measures above for back, nipples, perineal care.
One last note – allow yourself grace and time to heal and be so proud! You got this!!
I would love for you to share this with any pregnant or mommas that might become pregnant.
And let me know in the comments if you have any other tips that worked for you!
*The information in this article is based on my own personal research and experience. Please consult your healthcare team with questions*
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