The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
Dr. Christopher's Birth Prep Formula is an herbal formulation designed to cause an increase in toning contractions in late pregnancy. This herbal combination can be taken beginning at 34 weeks but should be taken only under supervision before 36 weeks. The recommended cycle is 1 capsule per day at week 36, 2 capsules per day at week 37, 3 capsules per day at week 38, etc. until you reach a maximum of 6 capsules per day or have your baby, whichever is first. [NOTE - Many midwives recommend waiting until you're three or four weeks before your due date to take this, as it's theoretically possible it could cause premature labor when taken before that. In Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, p. 23, Susun Weed suggests avoiding tonics such as PN-6 until 36 weeks, i.e. four weeks before the due date. Obviously, if you start taking it and it seems to cause contractions that are also causing cervical twinges, and you think it's too early for the baby to be born, it would make sense to stop taking it. Some women only take the herbs in the late morning or at noon, when their own natural oxytocin levels are lowest; this will minimize the already very small chance that a single dose could in any way trigger the onset of premature labor.]
As with all herbal preparations, this should be undertaken with supervision.
My reference: The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, with occasional reference to Hygeia: A Woman's Herbal by Jeannine Parvati Baker.
Squaw vine herb: Used by Native Americans and "among the best remedies for preparing the uterus and whole body for child birth". Recommended for use during the some weeks before one's EDD. Also useful in the relief of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). When used in preparations for labor, combine with raspberry leaf.
Holy Thistle (also known as Blessed thistle): A digestive acid which "increased gastric and bile secretions". Its use in pregnant women can be traced to its "benefit in...dyspepsia and indigestion... [with] a role in any disease of the digestive system which is accompanied by wind and colic". Contrary to what I said earlier, it is not a demulcent.
Black cohosh root: Used by Native Americans and "has a most powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer on the female reproductive system". Also useful in dysmenorrhea relief. Its usefulness in labor is to "aid uterine activity whilst allaying nervousness". That said, this herb is known to have some sedative effects in addition to its effects as a general female tonic.
Pennyroyal herb: Strengthens uterine contractions! Eases flatulence! Similar, but stronger I think than black cohosh, it eases "spasmodic" (cramping) pain while promoting aforementioned contractions. NOTE - When you hear horror stories about pennyroyal, these are sad stories of people who took pennyroyal OIL, which causes severe and sometimes fatal liver damage.
False Unicorn root: Another native American herb and "one of the best tonics and strengtheners of the reproductive system that we have". Normalizes hormone function, can be used to prevent threatened miscarriage, and ease morning sickness vomiting. I am suspecting its use in PN-6 is related to its normalizing functions.
Red Raspberry Leaf: Used to strengthen and tone the uterus, thereby easing labor and preventing hemorrhage. This herb should be taken regularly during pregnancy and esp. during labor.
Inflata herb - This anti-spasmodic is ideal for relaxing the uterine
muscles that keep the cervix rigid. From King's
American Dispensatory: "The powerfully relaxant properties of
lobelia render it a very efficient agent in several conditions, whose chief
feature is the spasmodic element. . . . Lobelia is of value in obstetrical
practice. It powerfully subdues muscular rigidity. It is the remedy to
overcome a rigid os uteri during parturition, and at the same time it relaxes
the perineal tissues."
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