While planning this week’s Self Help Homoeopathy Course I was reminded of why women who are pregnant often turn to homoeopathy as a healthcare option; pregnancy being a time when conventional medicine has little to offer them to help alleviate symptoms of illness. For some women it becomes a case of doing something, rather than doing nothing at all – even if they don’t necessarily ‘believe’ in homoeopathy. Then, once their babies have arrived, they appreciate the gentle nature of homoeopathy. The opportunity to help their children, without always resorting to antibiotics or pain relieving medication is attractive. It also gives women a sense of retaining (or gaining) some power over what happens. This reminded me of a blog I wrote a while ago which first appeared on the Birthworks website Birthworks website – I reproduce it below for anyone who missed it first time around.
“When I qualified as a homoeopath in 2003 I knew that working with pregnant women would probably form a big part of my clinical practice. As an experienced NCT teacher, yoga for pregnancy leader and more recently a Natal Hypnotherapy Practitioner, this has certainly proved to be the reality. In fact the two threads of my life intertwine so beautifully that sometimes it is hard to see the join.
My final year research project in 2003 focussed on whether women found using homoeopathy during pregnancy and labour to be empowering. I had read so often that holistic therapies empower patients, and more specifically that homoeopathy empowers pregnant women, offering additional choices and improving women’s sense of control and autonomy. I wanted to find out whether this was true…
Unsurprisingly published research into this subject matter was limited – not only are homoeopathic trials notoriously difficult to set up and finance, but also ethics around pregnancy and birth are (quite rightly) restricted. So my focus was on the subjective experiences of the women themselves.
Women are the main users of complementary therapies and pregnancy is often the time when women turn to homoeopathy – an holistic system of healing dating back over 200 years – as it is considered to have a particularly gentle and safe sphere of action well suited to pregnancy. Concerns over the impact of orthodox medicines upon the safety of the unborn child and hence a greatly reduced range of options make more holistic forms of care more appealing to the pregnant woman.
Pregnant women today are generally well-informed and have high expectations of their pregnancy experience as a whole, particularly with regard to the birth. Interestingly I discovered during my research that the women who adjusted best to pregnancy were those able to see themselves as autonomous and in control…women who were empowered.
By talking to women who had used homoeopathy during their pregnancy, labour and early postnatal period I was able to gather a sense of their experiences. An holistic approach to their health care was of prime importance:
‘it was the holistic thing…rather than everything being separated out’ (Woman 5)
For women who consulted a homoeopath, rather than just self-prescribing, there was additional emphasis on the rapport they built up with the practitioner. Having their concerns listened to and taken seriously meant they felt more supported and added to their feelings of positivity:
‘I spent a long time with her to analyse the different things that I needed and she seemed to really listen’ (Woman 1)
All the women I interviewed expressed a degree of anxiety, specific to the pregnancy and more generalised. Increased vulnerability and a sense that their usual level of self-control had been compromised were also mentioned. Often these feelings were linked to interactions with medical professionals. What they suggested that homoeopathy then offered them was reassurance, protecting their babies from the ill effects of conventional medicines. For some women just knowing that they had remedies to fall back on was considered enough, even for those who were not convinced of their efficacy. This increased their confidence, adding to a sense of retaining control.
I would dearly love to do further research on the use of homoeopathy in pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. My small study demonstrated that just having it as an option was a powerful factor in their feelings of choice and control, with the personal interaction with a professional homoeopath adding an additional layer of support considered valuable. In a narrow sense the women all felt empowered and cited homoeopathy as a contributory factor to that feeling. I would imagine that whichever complementary therapy a pregnant woman chose the same could apply.
If you would like to read more about homoeopathy for the childbearing year I would recommend the book Homoeopathy For Mother and Baby by Miranda Castro.
To find a registered practitioner in your local area visit The Society of Homeopaths website.