Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Postpartum Care

Keep the room warm immediatley after the birth, and do not give a postpartum woman cold drinks. If a newly postpartum woman has to warm her body after a chill, or if she has to warm up the contents of her stomach, she is wasting vital energy. Her entire course of postpartum recovery can be greatley affected by these two factors. Her energy at this time is precious. Respect and conserve it.


These can be very painful and distracting for the new mother. Strongly brewed Ginger tea brings relief from afterpains. Pour one cup boiling water over three to five slices of fresh ginger and steep five to ten minutes.

Motherwort tincture also eases afterpains-begin dosage at 1/2 dropperful and increase as needed.


Traditional Chinese medicine offers a very effective remedy for newborn jaundice, which parents can obtain from a Chinese apothecary or herbalist. Simmer this root, and swab the liquid inside the baby’s mouth. One or two applications will usually clear the jaundice.

mother and baby

A few teaspoons of crushed Fennel or Caraway seed tea can greatly relief the discomfort of colic. Try light pressure and warm compresses on baby’s belly, or bringing his feet slowly up to his ears several times. Clockwise massage in a sweeping motion above the belly button may also be effective.

Misalignment of the skull or spine may also be implicated in colic. Have the baby see a chiropractor with pediatric expertise (newborn adjustments are more like massage than manipulations).

Some babies find great relief in this simple exercise. With the baby on her back, grasp her tights and lift her feet toward her head, like during a diaper change. Continue to roll upward, and raise the baby until she is hanging upside down. Really! Now wait and watch her move: she will rotate her back this way and that, and when she seems finished, gentky let her down.

First touch her head down, then roll down shoulders, back, butt, and her legs uncurl. Babies partucularly benefit from this exercise when offered daily.

Excerpts from “Herbs and Homeopathy Postpartum” by Shanon Anton, found in “Hearts and Hands” by Elizabeth Davis; Photo by David K


Eating during labour?

The involuntary fast

Veggie Sandwich

Excerpts from Ina May Gaskin’s “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”

You may wonder about weather you should eat or drink in labour. Many hospitals place restrictions on eating and drinking once you have been admitted. Some maintain a strict policy of denying anything by mouth. The reasons for this are historical rather than scientific. The fear behind this policy is that if a woman should need a cesarean section under general anaesthesia, she might vomit and inhale some of the food into her lungs while she is unconscious from the anaesthesia. Those who devised this policy hoped that restricting food and drink during labour would guarantee that there would be nothing to vomit in those rare cases when general anaesthesia was used.

However, subsequent research has shown that restricting food and drink after hospital admission does not guarantee an empty stomach. When you are in labour, digestion happens slower than usual, so the food you ate several hours before coming to the hospital is likely to still be in your stomach. In addition, even when your stomach has been “empty” for hours, it will still secrete gastric juices, and these can be vomited and inhaled under anaesthesia. This kind of inhalation can burn the lining of the lungs or cause aspiration pneumonia, a serious disease.

…Be sure to drink a lot while in labour and to pee every hour or so. Drinking a lot will prevent dehydration as you labour. It also prompts the need to pee, which will send you to the toilet. This is good, because you likely have a conditioned response that causes your pelvic muscles to relax when you sit on the toilet. This will increase pressure against your cervix if you are still dilating or help descent of the baby if you are pushing.

…Labour is the only hard work that people do that carries a medical prohibition against eating and drinking. i think that much of the “uterine dysfunction” noted in hospitals can be attributed to low blood-glucose levels caused by fasting for a number of hours.

…In fact, I think that some women require nourishment in labour. I always did. I never had a baby in less than twelve hours, and each time, rather late in labour, I needed a tofu salad sandwich and regular gulps of water in order to feel strong and relatively comfortable. in some births I have attended, I know that a few bites of food gave the mother the strength she needed to push her baby out without forceps or a vacuum extractor.

…Many women never feel hungry in labour, and their labour progresses so quickly that eating would be bothersome for them. If labour is progressing well and the mother does not want to eat, I find it best to honor her wishes. She knows what is best for her. On the other hand, many women, particularly those having her first babies, may be in labour far longer than six hours. My partners and I always provide food for labouring women when they express a desire to eat.

…The strangest request I have encountered was that of a first-time mother who-just before pushing-asked her husband for a jar of peanut butter and proceeded to eat two heaping spoonfuls. She then washed the peanut butter down with nearly a quart of raspberry leaf tea and pushed her baby out. I was impressed.

Photo by Greg Hirson

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Human breast milk is so complete in supplying the nutritional needs of human babies that in general we can say that no other food source is needed until the baby is six month of age. Even at six month of age, a well-nourished mother’s milk is an excellent source of vitamins for babies.

Breast milk is the only kind of milk which was designed by nature for human babies. Formula made from cow’s milk must be changed and added to in order to be suitable for human babies. Because formula milks must be packaged and preserved, they contain various additions which breast milk does not have. Such additives include emulsifiers, thickening agents, acid-alkaline adjusters, and antioxidant.

Cow’s milk contains proportionally three times as much as protein as human milk. Unless it is diluted, as formula is, a human baby cannot digest and absorb its nutrients. Even with dilution, the protein in cow,s milk forms curds in the baby’s stomach which are relatively large and hard when compared to the protein curds from breast milk.

The large curds from formula are digested by the baby with only 50 percent efficiency, which means half of the protein must be excreted. The protein in human breast milk, on the other hand, is used by the baby with almost 100 percent efficiency. The formula fed baby, then, must drink a greater volume than the breastfed baby in order to obtain the same nourishment.

Protection against Disease

Human milk and colostrum, the yellowish=white “early milk” which is in the breasts during the latter half of pregnancy and the first couple of days after birth, are both rich in antibodies which protect newborn babies against many diseases. Breastfed babies are less susceptible to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Breast milk also provides good protection against stab infections babies.

From Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding by Ina May Gaskin

Very valuable information for the new mother. Encouraging and practical.

Photo by Raphael Goetter

Massage Message
December 27, 2007, 7:00 pm
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Baby Massage

Massaging a newborn is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling activities you can participate in. As parents, we long to touch our newborns from the moment of their births. We want to go over every finger, every limb, marveling at the wonder “we’ve” created. Massage gives us the opportunity to do this, while being very nice for the baby, as well.

A wonderful massage you can do from the very first day your baby is born is a castor oil massage. A time-honored East Indian tradition reputed to reduce the heat in the baby’s system caused by the friction of birth, it also makes the baby’s skin lovely and soft, even on wrinkly feet. Buy castor oil from a local health food store and try to get ‘cold-pressed’ if you can.

In preparation for the massage, make sure your room is nice and warm. Lay a towel on the bed or the floor and lay a receiving blanket over it to make a nice, soft place for the baby to lie. You may also want to place a sheet of plastic beneath the towel in case the baby pees while you are in the middle of the massage. Have another blanket or two close by to cover the parts of the baby you are not massaging to keep the baby warm. If it is the middle of summer, or you are in a very hot room, this may not be necessary.

Warm your hand by rubbing them together, or running them under hot water. Undress your baby and lay her face up on the towel. Pour about a tablespoon of oil into your palms and rub them them together to warm the oil.

Beginning with the chest area, slowly ang gently rub the oil onto the baby, starting from the center and moving down to the sides. You will notice the oil is very sticky. Rub the oil onto the baby very slowly so you don’t pull the skin, adding more oil to keep your hands well lubricated.

After the chest, move to the abdomen and rub in small circles, clockwise in the direction th large intestines move. If your baby has not had a first bowel movement, expelling the sticky, brownish black meconium that filled the intestines in utero, don’t be surprised if the castor oil massage stimulates this expulsion.

After the abdomen, move to the legs. GEntly massage from the feet toward the hips, which helps to return the blood from the legs to the heart, and then massage the feet themkselves.

Rubbing in little circles in the center of the feet and on the heel for the accupressure points for the colon can also help to stimulate the expulsion of the meconium. From the feet move to the arms and massage from the wrists to the shoulders, and then the hands, gently rubbing the palm to stimulate the colon.

Next carefully roll the baby over and massage the back, stroking from the center out to the sides. Rub up in around the neck and down all over the buttocks. Last, roll the baby back over and massage the face and head. It is fine to get the oil in the baby’s hair and ears, just remember to be careful with the soft spot on the top of the baby,s head where the bones have not yet closed.

After you are done, wrap the baby in a receiving blanket, and another warm blanket and, if it is at all cold, put a hat on the baby’s head. The baby will seem very sticky for about twelve hours until all the castor oil has been absorbed. Then you will noticethat any dry skin is gone, and that everything, including the hair, is soft and silky.

You can give your baby a castor oil bath as often as you like, even every day is not too frequently, as they never seem to outgrow their love of massage.

[From ‘Choosing Waterbirth, reclaiming the sacred power of birth’ – by Lakshmi Bertram; Photo by Valentina Powers]

Ina May Gaskin

Midwife Ina May Gaskin talks about natural childbirth — and “sphincter law.” Filmed at The Farm, Summertown, Tennessee USA, September 7, 2007.

Bond with your baby

Bonding is essential

The hours after birth are extremley important ones; they can deeply affect the future realationship between the child and the parents. Time spent together during those first few hours and days after the birth lay the groundwork for a profound relationship with one another. Becoming deeply bonded is vital for the family and can be wonderful satisfying to all.

And, one might ask, why should it be any other way? Perhaps no aspect of conventional birthing has caused as much distress for new mothers, fathers, and babies as hospital policies that require separation at a time when parents most want and need to be with their babies. There is no good medical reason to separate a heathy newborn baby from his mother.

In 1989 Dr. Mardsen Wagner, an American born pediatrician who is currently a consultant to the Maternal/Child Health division of WHO, lectured “I am convinced the procedure of placing all newborn babies in one room was the biggest mistake of modern medicine.” He further refers to the newborn nursery as “a cradle of germs, separating babies from their mothers at the most sensitive point of their relationship.

Sheila Kitzinger, well presented British childbirth educator and author, noted, “A screaming baby alone in its cot or lined up with rows of other screaming newborns is a neglected baby. He cannot know that help is near, that milk is coming in half an hour, or twenty minutes or even five minutes. He cannot know that loving arms are waiting to hold him. He is to all intents and purposes completley isolated and abandoned.

In a gentle birth the mother is awake and aware, highly conscious, energized by having given birth, and extremley eager to spend time with her child-touching, looking, feeding, resting, or sleeping together. The newborn wants the comforting presence of his mother, her warmth, touch, sound and smells. Exerpts from “Gentle Birth Choices” by Barbara Harper, R.N.

Photo by Nico


Conception, Pregnancy and Birth

Whether birth is difficult or easy, painful or pain-free, long-drawn-out or brief, it need not be a medical event. It should never be conducted as if it were no more than a tooth extraction.

For childbirth has much deeper significance than the removal of a baby like a decaying molar from a woman’s body. The dawning of consciousness in a human being who is opening eyes for the first time on our world is packed with meaning for the mother and father, and can be also for everyone who shares in this greatest adventure of all.

There are many women who hope for childbirth in which they, not the doctors, are in control. They want to have the information that will enable them to make their own decisions, to prepare themselves for an experience in which they participate fully, and do not wish labour and birth to be taken over by managers.

They know that it is easier to do this on their own ground, in a place to which the doctors and midwives who are their care givers come as guests. They would like to give birth outside a hospital. This may be either in their own home, or in a birth centre in which the rhythms of a labouring woman’s body are honoured and waited on, and where birth is non- interventionist and centered on people instead of on mechanical processes.

Hospitals exist where all members of staff share this attitude, but they are few and far between. You need only one person who is out of tune with such ideas, who believes in the aggressive management of labour, who, instead of being client- oriented, sees a woman as a patient who must obey hospital protocols, one person who is anxious and afraid, and who cannot trust women’s bodies, for the environment in which birth takes place to be poisoned, and completely unsuitable for the focused concentration and inner confidence that is needed for a good birth.

Extract from “Homebirth” by Sheila Kitzinger
A fully revised and updated version of this book became available under the title Birth Your Way in Feb 2002