I’ve been nesting since I was about four months pregnant. It’s been great as I’ve essentially remodeled, redecorated, and scrubbed our house from top to bottom, but this week, my energy has switched from putting in tile floors to obsessively scrubbing baseboards and getting my labor and birth kit ready. I also just strained the after birth tincture that I’ve been working on making for months (see recipe below).
Preparing for Birth
With my first pregnancy, I’m pretty sure I had my bag packed and birth plan written, printed, and in a folder with snacks for the nurses by the time I hit 20 weeks. This time, I used my energy more effectively (or at least my house would vouch for that) but I realized when I hit 36 weeks that I wasn’t ready for the actual birth part so I’ve been working on catching up.
I’ve been very grateful that this pregnancy has been my easiest and most comfortable by far. I credit having finally figured out and addressed my thyroid problem, nourished my body correctly before and during, and prioritized sleep throughout this pregnancy. I didn’t really even suffer from morning sickness at all this time, but have craved cucumbers, carrots, protein and sauerkraut.
I’m hoping (and wishin’, and prayin’) that this will mean a wonderful labor and delivery as well, but since most of my past labors have been 24+ hours, a little advanced preparation goes a long way. In the past, I’ve learned from experience that when a birth team rides out a long labor with you, they don’t get the benefit of the hormones for energy, so it is important to have enough healthy food, drinks and a place for them to rest.
When I’m in labor, I don’t typically want anyone or anything and just want to be left alone, but once the baby is born I am tired, hungry and thirsty, so I like to be prepared for that. I also like to be prepared for the after birth adjustments as well. With my second pregnancy, the after birth pains caught me off guard since I didn’t have any with my first delivery. Until that point, I always thought that when the baby finally arrived and the placenta was delivered, labor and contractions would stop.
As many moms know… this is not necessarily the case. In fact, at times, the after cramps rivaled labor itself, at least for me. While I wanted to be cuddling a newborn, I was still breathing through contractions.
An After Birth Tincture
With my fourth pregnancy, I discovered a pre-made tincture that my midwife recommended which greatly helped with the after-pains. This tincture was out of stock with my last pregnancy so I experimented with making my own using the same herbs (and adding a few of my own for flavor) so that I would have it on hand. I was shocked that by using it regularly, I had much less after-pain with my fifth baby than with my second.
Needless to say, I was determined to have it on hand again this time and mixed up a batch using a standard tincture recipe a few months ago. I strained it this week and it is ready to go in dropper bottles for after labor.
My after birth tincture contains:
- Chamomile– for relaxation and taste
- Ginger– to help settle my stomach
- Cramp Bark Herb– one of the ingredients in the pre-made tincture that has a folk history of use for cramps
- Yarrow– For relaxation and to ease cramping
- Motherwort– Said to promote relaxation and ease muscle tightening
Important Note: Check with a doctor or midwife before using these or any herbs while pregnant or nursing. I used this tincture after consulting with my midwife and under her supervision.
After Birth Tincture Ingredients
- 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers
- 1/4 cup fresh minced ginger root
- 2 Tablespoons cramp bark herb
- 1 Tablespoon yarrow flowers
- 1 teaspoon dried motherwort
- 2 cups vodka or rum (at least 80 proof)- Can use apple cider vinegar instead if you can handle the taste
- quart size glass jar
How to Make After Birth Tincture
- Place the herbs in bottom of the quart size jar.
- Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs.)
- Pour the rum or vodka (or other food grade alcohol at least 80 proof) into the jar.
- Tightly place the lid on the jar. Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily, for at least three weeks and up to six months. (I usually leave herbs for at least six weeks.)
- Strain through cheesecloth and compost the herbs. Store the tincture in dark colored dropper bottles or clean glass jars.
What I Do
I keep this tincture in my birth kit and use it pretty quickly after birth, ideally about the same time I start nursing the baby as nursing tends to make the after-contractions stronger. I’ve found from trial and error that taking it 10-15 minutes before each nursing session for the first few days greatly helps take the edge off the after-pains. I still feel the tightening of the contractions but not as much pain.
I personally took 10-15 drops per nursing session as needed under the supervision of my midwife, but check with your doctor or midwife before taking this or any herbal remedy or tincture when pregnant or nursing and to find out if and how much of a tincture like this you can take.
I find that this homemade version tastes better than the pre-made version thanks to the addition of chamomile and ginger, but when it is in stock, the pre-made After Ease Tincture has worked really well for me too.
Other Items I Keep on Hand
I also try to have a good supply of healthy but easy foods on hand for after birth, as well as some pre-made meals in the fridge and freezer. I pre-make after-birth sitz bath herbs to brew as a tea to use in a peri-bottle to ease perineum pain and also use this postpartum soothing spray.
What has helped you after birth? Any tips before this little one arrives?