Advice on safe use of herbs & aromatherapy in pregnancy. Also a look at other beneficial therapies for pregnant women.


Herbs in pregnancy

Herbal remedies are for the most part quite safe to be taken during pregnancy; some are useful alternatives to drugs both in chronic illness and for acute minor problems that may arise during pregnancy.

Caution It is still preferable to take no medication whatsoever in the first three months, unless there is a specific problem that needs treatment. There are herbs that should never be taken in pregnancy because in large amounts they can cause uterine contractions and thereby risk miscarriage. Always check the herbs you wish to take are safe for pregnant women.

Herbs which are safe to take in culinary doses but not as a medicine during  pregnancy:  Celery seed, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, saffron.

Many herbs can simply be prepared at home, but do consult a qualified medical herbalist if you need reassurance. As a general rule, a tea is made from a few teaspoons of the dried herb in boiling water; a decoction is made by boiling a beneficial root or bark and drinking the resulting liquid and a tincture is a pre- prepared, concentrated liquid form of the herb that is taken a few drops/millilitres at a time. A good book to have at hand is, ‘The complete Woman’s Herbal – a manual of healing herbs and nutrition for personal wellbeing and family care,’  by Anne McIntyre. She is the herbalists’ herbalist and well-respected throughout the profession. Much of the information on herbalism in my blogs comes from her book.

Aromatherapy in pregnancy

It is advisable not to massage essential oils or place essential oils in the bath for the first three months of pregnancy. Always check that an essential oil is safe in pregnancy. Julia Lawless, an aromatherapist who has written several books, is always reliable and Purple Flame, a good quality essential oil supplier, will always give you good advice over the phone.  Never use oils without diluting them in a base oil (usually almond or grape seed oil). The general rule for none pregnant users is 12 drops of essential oils to 30 ml of base oil. In pregnancy  use a smaller proportion of essential oils (about 6 drops essential oil/ 30 ml base oil). If putting oils in the bath or foot bath mix a maximum of 6 drops in a little base oil or milk before adding to the water. When vaporizing oils, add 6 drops of essential to hot water and place the dish over the burner.

Bach flower Remedies:  Very helpful for emotional transitions. Rescue Remedy, a combination of remedies, is a key player in keeping calm at times of stress. Good for both mother and partner throughout labour and birth. Add a few drops to a glass or bottle of water and sip regularly.

Acupuncture: Helps most problems in pregnancy and is useful as an aid to childbirth.

Reflexology: Helps most problems in pregnancy.

Chiropractor / Osteopathy/ Bowen:  These therapies can help many back and joint problems.

Massage therapy:  A well-trained and experienced massage therapist that has specialised in pregnancy massage will be able to help alleviate muscle aches and tensions. A good massage therapist will help you relax, sleep better, enhance the general well-being and the immune system of you and your baby, and give advice on beneficial exercises you can do at home. They should also be able to advise you on pain relieving massage techniques for your partner to help you in pregnancy and labour.

An introduction to Homeopathy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. How can it help?The basic principles.


Homeopathy in pregnancy

Homeopathy is excellent for pregnancy, childbirth and babies.  Provided you find
yourself a good book and follow the guidelines it is safe.  Better still, find yourself a

A highly recommended book is, ‘Homeopathy for mother and baby – pregnancy
birth and the post natal year’ by Miranda Castro.  She is the homeopath’s
homeopath and well respected throughout the profession.  The book not only explains
how to use homeopathy, gives remedies for ailments but also very good down to earth
advice on diet, mental and physical health in pregnancy, labour and birth, breast
feeding and early motherhood. Much of the information on homeopathy in this blog is from Miranda’s book.

What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a gentle yet highly effective form of complementary medicine that can
offer support on many levels – physical, emotional, and mental.  It works by
stimulating the body’s own healing power so that it can clear itself of many symptoms
of illness and reach a balance.  It cannot harm you or your baby because there are no
toxic side effects.  It is therefore and ideal treatment at a time when most conventional
drugs are prohibited.  It also has the added benefit of boosting the vitality and health
of your baby.

General rules when taking homeopathy
Homeopathy comes in different strengths.  It is usually sold as tiny pillules.  From the chemist you can buy pillules with strength 6c or 30c. 6c is the lowest dose.
If you buy a birth kit, the strength will be 200c.  The larger the number, the stronger the dose.
Homeopathy should be kept away from strong smells.  Never touch the tablet.  Tip
one into the lid and then tip the lid into your mouth.  If you drop a tablet, throw it
away, never put a dropped or handled tablet back in the bottle.
Let the tablet dissolve under your tongue.  Leave at least ten minutes between taking
and tablet and eating, drinking and brushing your teeth.
Strong smells, coffee, peppermint and camphor can anti-dote homeopathy.
You will know quite quickly whether a remedy has worked.  Take another pill when
you feel symptoms returning.
Homeopaths talk about your ‘picture’- this means the symptoms and emotions you are
A ‘constitutional’ remedy acts on a very deep level.  It is a remedy that is given to you
by a professional homeopath.

Homeopathy can be highly successful in treating infertility and regular homeopathic
treatment prior to conception helps maintain a good level of health.

Self-subscribing homeopathy can treat many of the less serious symptoms of
pregnancy such as morning sickness and constipation.  It can also help with emotional
symptoms that may arise in both parents adjust to approaching parenthood.  More
serious complaints such as raised blood pressure, symphisis pubis dysfunction and a
baby in breech position are best helped by a professional homeopath.

Homeopathic remedies are an excellent way of managing birth.  It helps mothers to
relax and follow the natural birth process and giver partners a role as they help to
choose the remedies.  Birthing packs are now available from the Homeopathic
pharmacies, Helios and Ainsworth.
They contain 18 most commonly needed remedies for pregnancy, childbirth and
recovery.  They also contain a mini materia medica, a booklet
which helps you to decide which remedy is needed.

Pain relief in labour
Homeopathy can provide pain relief, give energy to an exhausted mother and ensure
the smooth progression of labour.  It can also be used to induce labour and speed up
flagging contractions once labour is underway.

The use of homeopathy before and after labour can reduce bruising for mother and
baby, can heal nerve damage to the vagina and coccyx, and help heal tears and

Mastitis and cracked nipples
Respond wonderfully to homeopathy.  The correct remedy can bring about relief
within a few hours, avoiding the use of antibiotics so early in the baby’s life.

If the baby has colic, constipation or sticky eyes, they can all be swiftly cured using
the appropriate remedy.

Post natal depression
Can be greatly helped with homeopathy.  The correct remedy will help a woman
rebalance after one of the biggest changes in her life, smoothing the way into her new

Tissue Salts: What are they and how can they help pregnant women?

Tissue Salts: What are they and how can they help pregnant women?

Tissue Salts in Pregnancy in and Childbirth

This is my 3rd blog on complementary medicine for pregnancy and childbirth. All the information has been compiled from respected sources. Please note that I am only giving information as a way of sign posting women towards remedies that could possibly help with ailments in pregnancy. Please see a Homeopath or nutritionist for advice before taking any remedies!


Tissue salts: What are they and how can they help? 

Tissue Salts are widely available. They are sold as soft tablets that melt in the mouth. A pot of tissue salts contains 100’s of pills that can be kept for many years as long as you look after them. Care needs to be taken not to contaminate them by touching them in the the pot (tip the correct amount into the lid) or storing them with strong smelling products such as essential oils.

Tissue salts are known as a half way house between nutritional supplements and homeopathy. They are a range of twelve of the most common mineral tissue salts found in the human body and critical for health maintenance. They replace deficient minerals in a microscopic form which are absorbed directly in the mouth. They have a slight homeopathic effect due to their preparation being so close to that of homeopathic remedies, although unlike homeopathic remedies they contain a minute amount of the original substances. Rather than treating ‘’like with like’’ (homeopathy) these remedies correct imbalances or deficiencies in the body’s cell nutrition, helping the body restore itself to health.

As well as the individual remedies there are also combinations of tissue salts for different complaints, New Era produce a range of tissue salts in different combinations for a wide range of ailments, which being partly homeopathic and partly micro-nutrient is considered safe for both pregnant women and children (for example there is a great one for teething pains which helps some babies but also supports women suffering from SPD). They can also be taken with other medications. There are no instant cures using tissue salts as they gradually restore the body to its natural balance.

New Era Tissue Salts are available in most health food shops and large pharmacies such as Boots.

Tissue salts recommended for pregnancy

Calc. Fluor. – for tissue elasticity and dental development and helps prevent stretch marks, makes ligaments more supple and ensures stronger teeth for mother and baby. For impaired circulation, varicose veins and piles.

Mag. Phos. – Anti- spasmodic, taken to prevent cramping of muscles in legs and feet, soothes an irritable womb and relieves some headaches in pregnancy, optimises magnesium levels and helps prevent colic in babies after birth.

Ferr. Phos. – Improves iron absorption from food and supplements. Also anti- inflammatory properties, helping prevent infections in pregnancy and counteracting sore, swollen, inflamed joints. Improves tissue strength, making aches and pains less likely in pregnancy.

Nat. Mur. – Improves the absorption of fluids. Can help with morning sickness and prevent loss of hair during childbirth and lactation. It also helps build up the milk supply for breast feeding. Generally known to help with dryness or excessive moisture in any parts of the body, running colds, loss of smell and taste.

Silica – The cleanser and eliminater. Taken for anything with pus formation, for example, boils and styes, and is good for brittle nails and scalp disorders. Helps prevent mastitis and cracked nipples. Also useful in addressing painful and lame feet, especially the instep. Sleeping: helps prevent overheating and rapid pulse as well as talking in your sleep, bad dreams and jerking of limbs.

Kali Phos – The nerve nutrient. The main mineral constituent of nerve and brain tissue, so helps in the healthy development of these systems. Helps keep you calm and improves sleep and hyper – emotionality.

TISSUE SALT REGIME IN PREGNANCY:  This standard regime is recommended by many homeopaths. Please see a homeopath before taking any tissue salts.


Month 2     Calc. Fluor.  Mag Phos    Ferr Phos

Month 3   Calc Fluor   Mag Phos   Nat Mur

Month 4  Calc Fluor   Nat Mur   Silica

Month 5  Calc. Fluor   Ferr Phos   Silica

Month 6  Calc Fluor  Mag Phos  Ferr Phos

Month 7  Calc Fluor  Mag Phos  Nat Mur

Month 8 Calc Fluor  Nat Mur  Silica

Month 9 Calc. Fluor  Ferr phos  Silica

In months 8 & 9  Kali Phos may be needed, consult homeopath

Combination C for acidity, heart burn and dyspepsia (taken as an acute, when uncomfortable with heartburn).

Combination Q for sinusitis

Please let me know if you would like any information on tissue salts added to this blog. Next week I will be looking at Homeopathy.

Thank you, jojo

A guide to Exercise, Diet and Supplements in Pregnancy

A guide to Exercise, Diet and Supplements in Pregnancy

Please note that all the advice in this blog is written as a sign post for pregnant women. Please seek advice from a nutritionist, midwife or GP before improving your exercise regime, changing your diet and taking supplements.


There is little excuse not to take regular exercise while pregnant. A variety of classes in
pregnancy yoga, active birth, ante-natal aqua-aerobics and Pilates now exist. Some
women find personal trainers to take them through. Others make sure they walk
everywhere, while office bound women use their lunch break as an opportunity to
keep fit. Exercise videos for pregnancy cater for women who find it hard to get to a
class. The thing to remember is the fitter you are in pregnancy, the healthier and
happier you will be, the easier your birth and the faster your recovery – most
importantly, the healthier your baby will be.

Diet, changes and supplements

Pregnant women need to consume an extra 300 calories a day. Diet is very important in pregnancy

for both the mother and the baby. A mother’s diet will affect the child’s health for the rest of his/her life.Drinking
plenty of fluid is also important as the risk of dehydration is increased.


Apart from the standard advice about taking folic acid to prevent neural defects in the
foetus, metabolic changes that take place in pregnancy mean that you make better use
of the food you eat, therefore it is not always necessary to take vitamin and mineral
supplements. Women who should think about taking supplements should take those
specifically designed for pregnant women They are recommended for women who are
overweight or underweight, teenagers (because they are still growing themselves) and
those who have a restricted diet, for example a vegan diet. Other women who
would benefit from supplements are those who have lost a baby through miscarriage or havehad three babies within two years. If you smoke, live in a very polluted environment or have a very poor diet, your body’s demand on vitamins will
be greater and you could also benefit by taking a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral
supplement designed for pregnancy.

Drinking plenty of fluids is also important. Water is the best drink, preferably still mineral water or filtered tap water – 6-8 glasses/day. If you love your tea and coffee try to cut it down to the minimum you can tolerate. They are both stimulants and diuretic, they contain tannin and caffeine that bind with important nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc. Don’t drink either after a meal. De-caffeinated tea and coffee are not always a good idea as the process of decaffeinated can use a lot of chemicals. If you can’t bear the idea of drinking water, it is best to choose fresh juice from the chill cabinet or better still make your own. However, drinking huge amounts of juice has been linked to swelling limbs, so best to mix juice and water 50/50. If you drink squash to make your water bearable, choose an organic fruit squash or Elderflower cordial. These have no artificial ingredients. Try to steer away from low sugar alternatives because artificial sugars and additives have been linked with a variety of health problems and behavioural problems in children.

Many women suffer from heartburn in pregnancy which is generally aggravated by acid, so avoid fruit juices, citrus fruit and vinegar.

Diet – The natural way to absorb vitamins and minerals
Cravings for large quantities of food, strange combinations and non-foods such as
coal is indication of nutritional deficiencies and/or blood sugar fluctuations. If this applies to youit is advisable to seek
advice from a nutritional expert.

Vitamins and minerals in pregnancy
Ideally most vitamins and minerals should come from food not supplements.

Vitamin E
Ensures Iron absorption and prevents the destruction of red blood cells. Vitamin E is
also good for boosting the baby’s immune response to allergens and may reduce the
risk of Asthma.

Good sources
Eat plenty of vitamin E-containing foods such as leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and
seeds, oily fish.

Vitamin C
Helps your body absorb iron. Keeps you strong and enhances your immune system.

Good sources of vitamin C
Fresh fruit and vegetables, potatoes and berries

Iron deficiency causes anaemia.
Iron is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. If there is not enough
haemoglobin, insufficient oxygen is carried to the baby and you get tired. If anaemic
when giving birth chances of haemorrhage increase.

Good sources of iron:
Black strap molasses, egg yolk, whole grains, dried peas and beans, all dark green
leafy vegetables, raisins, prunes, brewers yeast and nuts. Eating lots of these iron rich
foods in pregnancy will help you avoid taking supplements as you will have a lot of
iron stored on your liver. The foetus draws on these reserves and stores enough iron
in its liver to last for several months after birth.

Digestion and how it affects iron absorption
If you suffer from anxiety or tension this may impair digestion and absorption.
vitamin b complex or brewers yeast helps the nervous system and helps prevent anaemia
caused by deficiency of vitamin B, B12 and Folic acid.

For proper digestion and absorption there needs to be sufficient hydrochloric acid in
the stomach. Sip a little cider vinegar and honey (two teaspoons of cider vinegar and
one of honey) in hot water half an hour before meals, or lemon in hot water, to
increase acidity.

Foodstuffs that lock up iron
Drinking lots of tea, especially after a meal, can lock up iron, making it unavailable
for your body to use. Taking ant acids medicines for heartburn and acid reflux also stop your body absorbing iron
Folic acid
One of the B complex vitamins and is vital for the formation of red blood cells. It is
particularly important in pregnancy for the development of the foetus and the supply
of breast milk.

Good sources of Folic acid
Found in green leafy vegetables, also brewers yeast, beans, legumes, nuts.

Destruction of Folic acid
Folic acid diminishes in storage and exposure to sunlight, which is another reason
why leafy vegetables should be eaten as fresh as possible. Folic acid is destroyed by
cooking, especially boiling, so ensure that you eat a fresh green salad daily and only
light steam or stir fry vegetables. Some drugs such as aspirin, estrogens and sulphur
drugs destroy folic acid in the body and alcohol slows down its absorption. High
doses of vitamin C also hasten its excretion.

Necessary for the formation of strong bones and teeth. It enables blood to clot and
muscles to work smoothly, and may protect against high blood pressure and pre –
eclampsia. Your baby’s teeth start to bud very early in pregnancy so it is vital that
your calcium intake in the first four months of pregnancy is not too low.

Good sources of calcium

Milk and dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, whole grains, nuts and carrot

Foodstuffs that can lock up calcium.
Oxalic acid in spinach, rhubarb, beetroot and cocoa as well as coffee.

If levels of magnesium get low it can cause muscle cramp. Good levels of
magnesium may also help prevent pre-eclampsia.

Good sources of magnesium
Cereals, nuts, Soya, milk, fish and meat

Necessary for muscles to contract well, shortage of zinc is a cause of long labour.
Deficiency may result in miscarriage, growth restriction in the uterus, stillbirth and
congenital handicap.

Good sources of zinc
High fibre foods such as bran. Brazil nuts, parmesan and other hard cheeses, seeds,
herring and meat.

Foodstuff that can lock up zinc
Iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of zinc.

‘Alternative’ Supplements. These can be taken during and after

Spa tone- If your midwife advises you to take iron supplements then this is a good
alternative, much more easily absorbed than standard pills and doesn’t cause
constipation. Find it in your local chemist. It comes in a box of sachets containing
spa water from Snowdonia. It is has a very high content of iron sulphate. One or two
sachets/ day should fulfil your daily requirement. Take in water or fruit juice.
Remember vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and don’t drink tea for at least 30
minutes because it will prevent your body absorbing it by locking it up.
Floradix – Multi – vitamin and mineral herbal / food supplement. A good liquid
tonic, one with added iron. Find it in most health food stores.

Probiotic such as bio-acidophillus- Healthy bacteria for the health of your
intestines. If antibiotics have been taken more than twice in a lifetime then it is
worthwhile taking a probiotic supplement to rebalance the healthy bacteria in you
intestines and reduce the chances of you or your child having a Candida imbalance

Bio-care produce top quality supplements for pre-conception and anti-natal care for
both men and women. Available through mail order, they also have an excellent
telephone help line where you can ask well-trained staff for advice.

My first blog on complementary therapies for pregnancy and childbirth


Complementary therapies for pregnancy and childbirth


Choosing complimentary therapies for pregnancy and childbirth can be confusing, especially if you have never used them before. Think of them as extra support that can safely cure and alleviate many ailments of pregnancy and childbirth as well as empower and enhance the health and well being of you and your baby. By choosing to use complementary therapies you are not rejecting the expertise of your midwife or obstetrician, simply building up your own health on the foundation of their care.


Pregnancy is not an illness – For much of the 20th century pregnancy was regarded as an illness. The reason was that with the advent of industrialisation came the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in which many women lived. Often they did not have good health to start with and a rapid succession of pregnancies, hard physical labour both at work and at home, lots of children to look after and poor nutrition, meant that women weakened rapidly, which sadly led to many deaths of mother and child in childbirth. Improvements in sanitation and nutrition as well as huge technological and medical advances mean that today we rarely hear of tragedies in childbirth. However, the down side of these advances has been the over- medicalisation of pregnancy. This often leaves many women feeling disempowered, so over the last decade there has been a recognisable shift in the medical profession towards women taking a pro-active role in the choices they make for their pregnancy and labour. Obstetricians now concentrate on the pregnancies with complications and the midwives look after all the healthy ‘normal’ cases. Women are encouraged to eat a well balanced diet, take supplements, if necessary, and exercise regularly. Many midwives actively encourage women to use complementary therapies and some are even trained in the use of a complementary therapy, for example, massage, homeopathy, acupuncture and shiatsu. Delivery rooms are now geared more towards active birth. The days of inactive, passive pregnancies and trying to give birth on your back with your legs in stirrups are hopefully well and truly over!