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A Preemie Thrives on Herbs

Even in medical crisis, natural tools can help!

After having three children, two of them born at home, it was easy to believe I was fully competent in childbirth. After having my fourth, I now know that I am!

Many women have relied for years on wild yam as a birth control method. I have a number of friends and clients for whom it has been extremely reliable for extended periods of time, and who have had no trouble conceiving when they discontinued taking it. Apparently, it helps the body to balance progesterone production, and for that reason is also used by some women to overcome infertility and by young girls unable to balance their cycles. This is the essence of herbal function. While a synthetic hormone is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, herbs provide the raw materials necessary for the body to create those substances for itself. For me, the wild yam did not prevent a pregnancy in spite of being absolutely faithful in it’s use. (There are some women for whom every method fails; frankly I feel a strong “Thy will be done” factor in my own case.) We were excited to learn that I was expecting a baby in early May of this year. One of the blessings of herbs is knowing the baby would not be harmed in the event of conception while taking them.

I had some nausea early on which was handled adequately with red raspberry blendmade in tea form and sipped in the morning. Peppermint oil on the tongue, ginger, Anti-Gas Formula™ and keeping high levels of B vitamins are helpful to other women.

I have used the Super Supplemental™ as a base support during my pregnancies; several doctors and midwives have been impressed with the ratios and pronounced them acceptable substitutes for commercial pre-natals. Also, Nature’s Pre-natal™ has just been introduced, which does not contain the large amounts of sugar, starch, artificial colors, and the constipating ferrous sulfate found in commercial prescription pre-natals. Iron is not constipating in gluconate form or in the forms naturally occurring in yellow dock or the herbal blend sold as I-X™. Oddly, anemia can also cause constipation! Since I had had a problem with pernicious anemia during my two previous pregnancies, I began taking chelated iron along with liquid chlorophyll and citrus bioflavanoids to stabilize my hemoglobin levels. I also took most of my regular herbal supplements.

In late February my grandmother passed away and I drove with my children and parents on a 19 hour trip to the funeral. The day after we arrived my water broke, nearly 10 weeks before the baby was due. Knowing that the primary risk was the development of infection I began taking IN-X™ and increased my intake of bioflavanoids. Since the midwife informed me that ruptures can sometimes heal, and that she had experienced a few women who had gone for several months with leaks, I was not panicked. I did, however add extensive amounts of assimilable calcium and magnesium to support that possibility. I also began to drink a large can of pineapple juice and a half gallon of (not from concentrate) grapefruit juice to maintain acidity, and a gallon of pure water to ensure the baby and I stayed as hydrated as possible. I was in a very rural area and frankly did not want to have this baby without my husband present!

There was some debate about whether it was safer to fly or to drive home. After extensive consultation we decided to drive after a couple days of rest. I was having frequent but irregular contractions, so immediately prior to the trip I drank an ounce of wine at the midwife’s direction. As I have had no alcohol for over 15 years, I was a good candidate for it to slow labor. A few hours into the trip my contractions became very regular. I used lobelia essence topically to keep the muscles as relaxed as possible; prior to the trip I had also taken lobelia and large amounts of magnesium. When I drank the second dose of wine I understood why it is so critical for people not to drink and drive; where I had been feeling all of the back and uterine muscles contracting together, I felt only one area at a time contract within minutes of the drink. Muscles simply cannot coordinate with alcohol in the system.

As soon as I saw the Obstetrician, he decided to send me to a regional specialty hospital to deliver. I was told that I would be put on steroids and thyroid hormones in an effort to “pump” the baby’s development in the hopes that he would not come for a week. I was also told that 80-90% of the time it was a severe strep infection which triggered the premature rupture, so I would be given IV antibiotics. Interestingly, as I was packing for the funeral trip I had felt impressed to begin taking licorice root, pantothenic acid and TS-II. The first two are key support for the adrenal glands, which produce cortin and the other hormones imitated by corticosteroids; TS II is a kelp combination to feed the thyroid. I took them to the hospital with me, along with the other things I had been taking and some liquid herbs I felt could help the baby.

Hospital birth was a new and very traumatic experience for me. When they heard that my water had been open for five days, they were certain I was fully septic and agreed there was no way to stall the labor, which was already well under way. Because the all-knowing monitor kept slipping out of position, the doctor refused to even believe I was in serious labor. The baby came close to being delivered without his “assistance”.

We were told to expect a baby who would have oxygen tubes into his lungs, or possibly into his umbilical stump, since the lungs could very possibly still be inadequately developed to function. We were told also to expect an 8-9 week hospital stay with a baby who would very likely be unable to suckle for some time. As soon as Matthew was born, he was rushed to Neonatal Intensive Care. He was in an oxygen hood for an hour waiting for test results, but was breathing well with no supplemental oxygen from that time on. All tests for infection were completely negative for both of us, but he was put on antibiotics anyway. He weighed three pounds, fourteen ounces.

I did not deal well with having my baby taken from me. I was going into shock, with my blood pressure continually dropping; David began giving me licorice root and it stabilized. (That is why I keep it in my EmHerbency first aid kit). My focus began to be on boosting my milk and getting my baby out of there. I had lost a great deal of blood, since the doctor pulled the placenta loose and left one piece inside. I began drinking chlorophyll to rebuild my strength and blood supply. I increased my B vitamins withNutri-Calm.

From the beginning, Matthew was ready for life. I was able to hold him about three hours after he was born, and he tried valiantly to nurse my finger. The nurses called it a reflex, saying that he would have to learn to breathe, suck and swallow at the same time before he could nurse, which was unlikely for at least two weeks. I asked the doctor if he would allow me to attempt to suckle him, given that I was not yet producing milk and that he would need help learning to suckle. He granted that consent but failed to write it into the file so I was delayed nearly two days. What I did not reveal was that I was coating my nipples with glycerin-based Herbal Minerals to help boost his system! To their astonishment, they felt he was ready to eat on the third day. I finally began to produce colostrum, the early milk, that morning and went flying to the nursery with my few drops in hand, hoping they would at least add them to the formula I assumed he’d need since I had no milk. I had 3 cc’s… exactly what they had planned for his first meal! I have never had a delay with my milk coming in; the timing this time, too, was apparently perfect. For his en- tire hospital stay my milk kept pace with his needs, exactly to their measured specifications. Miracles are life. I produced colostrum for over a week for this tiny baby, when the norm is only a few days at most. (Any time milk does not seem to keep up, Blessed Thistle is a big help.) As soon as he began regular (tiny) feedings, I began adding a few drops of Herbal Minerals to the milk. I had begun taking licorice root and Pantothenic acid in large amounts when he appeared extremely agitated and I learned they had begun giving him IV caffeine, standard treatment for preemies. As his bottle volume increased I also added licorice directly.

On the fourth day the nurse commented that they had done a bilirubin count because Matthew appeared slightly jaundiced. I began taking Bayberry to support his liver, which I used successfully for Micah’s jaundice at birth. (Then I knew only about herbal tea, and gave Micah 8 ounces at a time for the first three days of life. He guzzled down the nasty stuff, in addition to nursing, until the fourth day. By then the jaundice was gone, but I thought I’d give him one more bottle for good measure. He clenched his jaws and refused to let it near him. Most babies and children know what they need!) By the time they got the bilirubin count and ordered the lights he was markedly improved; I backed off the bayberry and it returned. Naturally I kept it up after that, with a bonus I hadn’t even considered. My bleeding slowed dramatically, which is the case for women with heavy menstrual cycles who use Bayberry bark.

On the eighth day he seemed fussy and constipated; they had started giving him typical vitamin drops with iron in non-assimilable ferrous sulfate form. I again added licorice directly to his bottles and increased my intake; frequently that is sufficient as a laxative for infants. I have not given Matthew any vitamins or iron since he has been home, but his iron level was exceptional when we had it tested last summer. I also worked reflex points in his feet and massaged his abdomen to relieve the distress. At home, I also use Catnip and Fennel liquid.

I had some of my own struggles at the same time. Emotionally, I was a wreck, having never been separated form one of my babies and now finding myself separated from all of them. I found that Hibiscus, Quince, and Tiger Lily flower essences were very helpful. I was also having a problem with water retention, another first. I had continued taking Liquid Chlorophyll, which is normally adequate to prevent that, but found the problem was not resolved until I added K-C, a Chinese combination for a “stressed water” constitution. That constitution is associated with an excess of fear, which was from being out of control of the situation.

We had been told to expect an 8-9 week stay; Matthew was released after only 11 days in the hospital, though he was still under the hospital policy of a four pound minimum. The nurse’s comment was “I have never seen a baby grow so fast. What did you do, put Miracle Grow in his milk?” She wouldn’t have believed me if I told her I had!

Matthew is now 14 months old, and at just 15 pounds he is walking and has 4 teeth. He has had only a couple of sniffles, which we’ve dealt with using the glycerin homeopathic remedies and tinctracts for kids.

(Originally published in my WellWorks Magazine, September-October 1996)

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