The preconceptual period
Women who are planning on become pregnant are naturally concerned to keep themselves in good health in preparation for such an important physiological and psychological event in their lives. They may well stop smoking, reduce their alcohol consumption, eat healthily and try to get some exercise.
Homeopathy can be useful in this period because a homeopathic remedy can be prescribed constitutionally. This means that a remedy is chosen for the whole woman rather than any specific condition. The homeopathic doctor will take a very detailed history of all previous diseases, any current illnesses or symptoms as well as the usual homeopathic information about dietary habits, sleep and personality as well as many other good features. If the doctor thinks that there is a good reason to prescribe a homeopathic remedy for the patient, homeopaths believe that a correctly prescribed constitutional remedy for the patient, homeopaths believe that a correctly prescribed constitutional remedy can help the patient in general by lifting her energy, helping her sleep and even make her feel better psychologically.
Homeopathy is sometimes useful for couples with fertility problems. Of course, orthodox, investigations are essential in cases of infertility, but in many couples all these tests are normal but the woman just does not fall pregnant. We have all heard of a case where eventually the couple adopt a child and soon afterwards the wife becomes pregnant. Homeopathic treatment of both partners can maximise their health in a general way and it is reasonable that optimal health in a person would include higher fertility.
Most women are naturally concerned about consuming medications during pregnancy. Homeopathic remedies are generally completely safe in pregnancy and can, therefore, be useful in treating some the the troublesome symptoms that often accompany this state.
Homeopathic remedies such as Colchicum (especially if the smell of food aggravated the problem), Cocculus (when car sickness is also a factor) and Sympharicarpus racemosa, as well as many others, are useful when trying to treat this problem. Ideally the remedy should be chosen by a trained homeopath to suit the individual as well as her particular symptoms.
The remedy Caulophyllum is useful in preparing the uterus for labour and can be given daily for the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Homeopathic remedies are safe and useful during all three stages of labour. Caulophyllum can be used to optimise the action of the uterine muscles. Other remedies can be chosen to suit any symptoms occurring during this challenging physiological episode.
Inevitably labour causes bruising of the soft tissues of the mother. Arnica, the famous homeopathic remedy for bruising and injury, is an effective remedy and can be used routinely after labour. It can be given in a 30c strength daily for a week starting as soon as possible after birth whether it is a vaginal or by Caesarean section. Most surgery leads to internal bruising and the same Arnica regimen can safely be given after any surgical procedure.
It is not unnatural for a woman who has given birth by section or had an episiotomy to feel slightly resentful about being “cut” in this way. Homeopathy places great emphasis on such psychological symptoms and uses them in selecting the most appropriate for the patient. In these cases the remedy Staphysagria can be most helpful. This remedy can be used after any surgical procedure where the patient resents having to be subjected to the discomfort or inconvenience. This resentment may not be freely volunteered as patients may recognise intellectually the necessity of the procedure but unconsciously still resent having it done to them. This is why homeopaths have to question their patients very carefully and comprehensively, especially with regard to how they feel psychologically about what is happening to them.
The postnatal period
A carefully chosen remedy for the patient as a whole can be effective in this condition. This requires taking a comprehensive homeopathic history, as different mothers have different reasons for being depressed. Some cases are very severe and may well need orthodox medication as well as counselling. However, there is no harm in trying homeopathy initially in these cases and only using conventional medication if results are unsatisfactory.
This principle is important for homeopathic doctors in treating any condition. If a patient is not responding to homeopathy, we can always revert back to surgery or drugs. If a patient has a life-threatening disease (or one where there is a risk of irreversible tissue damage) such as meningitis or appendicitis then there is no time for homeopathy, and antibiotics and surgery respectively should be implemented. However, in most conditions there is time first to try the holistic stimulus of a homeopathic remedy to attempt to persuade the body to heal itself. This is in contradistinction to a prevailing “enlightened” attitude towards homeopathy in that “there is no harm in trying it when orthodox treatment can do more for the patient”.
Problems with breast feeding such as failure to produce enough milk or failure of the milk to “dry up” after breast feeding has ceased can often respond to homeopathic medicines. The remedy Lac caninum is often considered in these sort of problems. Sore nipples often respond well to the application of homeopathic Calendula cream. It is quite safe for mothers who are breast feeding to take suitably prescribed homeopathic remedies. A healthier mother means a healthier baby.
Homeopathy for the under-fives
If labour has been quite traumatic and long and if forceps have been used it is reasonable to assume that the baby has been quite bruised physically and even psychologically. Frederick Leboyer in his book Birth Without Violence emphasise the need for making the experience of birth as gentle as possible for the baby. Even the psychological state of those present at the birth is considered important. This book and others has led to a swing towards home deliveries as well as gentler ways of dealing with labour and in much less clinical and more home-like environments.
However, clinical procedures are often necessary for a satisfactory labour. If the infant has had a long traumatic labour and experienced forceps on its head, which cannot be very comfortable and certainly causes some bruising, then Arnica is again a very useful remedy to give the baby. One can just sprinkle a few granules of Arnica 30c or 200c on the baby’s tongue. A single dose if often enough to optimise the body’s attempts to heal its wounds.
Unfournately homeopaths cannot ask babies a long list of questions in order to choose the best homeopathic remedy for any particular condition. But we can ask the parents questions about the baby as well as observing the baby most carefully. The aim is to choose a remedy to suit the condition as well as the infant. Chubby babies require different constitutional remedies from thin babies, as do babies who sleep through the night compared to those who do not.
It is, however, sometimes possible to prescribe a remedy for a specific condition. For example, problems with teething often respond to the remedy Chamomilla. A few granules of Chamomilla 30 on the tongue every hour can be tried routinely and especially if the baby is extremely irritable, as teething babies often are!
Many parents are understandably reluctant about their children taking conventional drugs. In many situations, homeopathy can provide a safe and effective alternative to drugs. This applies to acute, recurrent and chronic illness.
Many viral illnesses such as colds and flu against which we do not have effective conventional medication, can be helped by carefully chosen homeopathic remedies. It is possible to treat various aches, pains and headaches where no clear conventional diagnosis can be made. This is because homeopathic remedies are chosen on the specific symptoms of the patient. Of course it is preferable to make an orthodox diagnosis, but this is not a sine qua non for the prescription of a homeopathic remedy which may be helpful.
A child with acute tonsillitis may well respond to penicillin. However, when the problem recurs several times every winter one begins to sense that the problem is not only the causative bacteria but the fact that the child is susceptible to infection of the tonsils. It is this sort of susceptibility that homeopaths hope to rectify by prescribing a remedy for the whole patient as well as the tonsils.
Unfortunately we seem to be seeing an increase in childhood chronic diseases such as eczema and asthma. In these conditions orthodox treatment is mainly symptomatic with the use of steriod creams in eczema and steroid and bronchodilating inhalers in asthma. A homeopathic doctor wall not only take a history about the chronic illness, but also about the physical, general and mental characteristics of the patient. Homeopathic doctors believe that correctly chosen remedies are often able to stimulate the body’s innate healing ability leading to an improvement of chronic conditions.