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Birth Anxiety and the Overdue Baby

by Dr Neil Slade(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 159 - June 2009

A few months back I took on Stella as a patient. She was 36 and was about to give birth a couple of weeks after the appointment, the pregnancy had been textbook so far and all was well. She consulted me for marked anxiety about the birth, which was building as each day went by. This would be her second baby and her anxiety was due to the events of her first birth.

The first time she gave birth had been a terrible experience for her, a very long, protracted labour and difficult delivery which left her in intensive care; it was a couple of weeks before she was able to go home and " a mother..." to her child. Thus as her due date came closer, Stella had mounting panic.

With a case such as this I had to try and get to the root of the anxiety if I was to have any impact on it.  Just trying to prescribe on 'anxiety' would do no good at all, as we have over 100 'anxiety remedies'. Thus I started questioning with regard to how the anxiety affected her. She said that it would come out of nowhere, that she would pace and could not settle, sleep was difficult and she would wake in the early hours with her mind racing. When I asked what the anxiety was over, she said that she was concerned the delivery would go wrong, she would be in great difficulty, she might die and the baby might die. Bearing in mind her first experience, it is not difficult to see how she was thinking along these lines. I asked about more general information and she reported that she was generally an anxious type of personality. She was very particular about things and very tidy; her husband was well trained to know what he could and could not do with regard to leaving things around the house. I asked if that meant she could be critical of him.  "Oh yes" she replied with a smile.

I now knew the anxiety remedy I wanted to prescribe to her – Arsenicum album. This remedy is one of our main treatments for anxiety. Its characteristics are restless, anxiety about illness and death. It has an early hours of the morning aggravation (worse after 2am), and the general personality type is fastidious and 'proper'. They can be censorious of those around them.  I gave her Ars. alb. 1M one tablet in the evening and one the following morning, to be repeated a few days later if needed. A week later we had a quick chat over the 'phone, and she reported that the anxiety was much calmer; I established that she had now become more apprehensive rather than anxious which was natural, bearing in mind she was shortly to give birth.  In the consultation I also gave her a 'pregnancy package' of remedies and instructions on the indications of each one.  At the end of the conversation I asked her to call if she needed me or needed clarification on the birth remedies, otherwise "Good luck".

I didn't hear anything further and assumed that all must have been well. Then I got a call from her saying that she had not given birth and the baby was now eight days overdue. An assessment from the midwife stated that the baby's head was not yet engaged and that they had scheduled in a 'sweep' for her. This is a procedure done to try and get things moving. She could feel her anxiety starting to build and definitely did not want a sweep – was there anything homeopathy could offer? I asked her about the baby's' assessment; apparently everything was fine and it was not distressed in any way, its head was simply not yet engaged. I asked about the accuracy of her due date; she was adamant that she knew exactly when she must have conceived, and the due date worked out from this was thus accurate.

I advised her to take one single tablet of Pulsatilla 200c from the birth kit remedies I had furnished her with. She said she would take one as soon as we had finished chatting. Any difficulties, and she was to call me. That was at approximately 11.30am on Friday. I didn't hear anything else from her and on Monday decided to call her to see what was happening. I am always reluctant to call a patient, preferring them to contact me if they need me, but I must admit I was eager to find out. After quite a few rings Stella answered the 'phone. She had been planning to call me later that day. After she took the Pulsatilla, things started to happen pretty quickly, she went into labour mid-afternoon, and by early evening had given birth to a little girl. The birth itself had been uneventful, other than slight tearing for which she had needed a couple of stitches.  The baby was fine and mother and daughter were soon back at home, and the family were enjoying having the new baby about.

Pulsatilla is a main remedy when everything is fine with a pregnancy, but delivery is simply running overdue and needs moving along a bit. Labour is either absent or may have started, but it is weak and slow to progress – Pulsatilla is one of our remedies of choice here. The other remedy I could have chosen that works well in this situation is Caulophyllum, but Pulsatilla and Arsenicum album (the remedy she had previously done well on) are complementary to each other, thus the decision to go with this.

Mother and baby continue to do very well and no further treatment has been necessary for either to date.


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About Dr Neil Slade

Dr Neil Slade  PhD LCH RSHom. Neil is a senior lecturer at two leading complementary therapy colleges and has two busy homeopathic practices. He is the Deputy Director of Pure Medicine in London's Harley Street. He regularly contributes articles to the national press, radio and television. Neil can be contacted on Tel: 01372 361669;

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