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. Some moms opt to encapsulate their placenta and start taking that postpartum.
I also keep rice heat packs (for cramp relief), a water bottle that stays cold for a long time, and a salt lamp (for a warm glow without too much light) close by for the first few days.
What has helped you after birth? Any tips before this little one arrives?
Discussion (27 Comments)
Would there be any harm in adding cramp bark in tincture form to this mixture as well as adding the Yarrow in powder form? Also, can you make without the Motherwort? Its not currently available at Mountain Rose herbs or my local health food store.
Thank you for this! I’m a bit late to start my own, but have a prepared tincture I hope to use…just trying to work out with my midwives if it’s ok because a past midwife didn’t want me to use it. Do you know if these herbs just relieve pain or if they would keep your uterus from clamping down properly? I think that’s the concern, but I’d really like to be able to use it.
I am expecting my 7th baby this may and am dreading the afterbirth pains, as they get worse with each pregnancy for me. I am allergic to ibuprophin and hate the way that Tylenol with codeine makes me feel. Needless to say, I am very excited to try this tincture. Thank you, Katie, for coming up with this, I have hope for this coming recovery period!
I was wondering if you could share about how this worked for you, Ali? I am planning on using this after the birth of my 4th in August, and it would be helpful to hear from someone else who has tried this recipe! Thank you so much
Relax, rest, relax, rest, enjoy the baby and your other children as they are getting to know baby, relax, rest, enjoy, relax, rest enjoy…just that from a mama of seven…relax, rest, enjoy.
Mary M. Ernsberger
Yarrow is a really potent astringent so it would assist with any after-birth bleeding. I think I would use Lemon balm for relaxation and flavor over the chamomile. For some, the chamomile can cause an allergic response. I love the other ingredients.
I’m almost 6 months pregnant with my first. I’m still waiting for the crazy nesting urges I keep hearing about! I need that extra motivation to get the cleaning and organizing done!
I put the after-ease tincture on my shower registry after reading about it in one of your other posts.
I used homeopathic arnica drops during labor and after with my second baby. I had no bruising or tearing and felt like I could have walked for miles the next day. I didn’t get any afterbirth pains. I didn’t do this with my first birth and it was a horror show. I struggled to walk for a few days afterwards.
I finally gave in and encapsulated my placenta as well as had an after birth placenta smoothie. I, like you, had awful after birth pains. With #4 they vanished as soon as I drank the smoothie. And I was having them so strong I was dry heaving and unable to eat. It was a total miracle. I will for sure be doing the same this time around with #5!
I froze my placenta after it was chopped into pieces with the 2nd child and took them like pills. Kind of gross, but well worth it. I felt really good, didnt suffer from depression like I did with my 1st, and had much less after pains.
am i reading that right? a “placenta smoothie”? omg are u serious…..i hope im just not understanding what you mean, or…..??
Amazing!!! Do you have any idea why the knead the stomache/uterus down after birth off and on for about a day. Its awful!!! Is this needed?! My first and third births were vaginal, my second was a c-ection and the kneading after that surgery was extremely painful. Would this tincure help with that also? I wish our area “allowed” homebirths 🙁 If we ever have a another babe will def use!!! Those nursing babe-contractions were worse than pushing the baby out! Lol
Tanya, they want to make sure that your uterus is contracting tightly so that you don’t hemmorage. The roughness will depend on your care provider and whether or not they are seeing the bleeding slow down. You are right…so painful!
From what I’ve read and discussed with a few midwives and lactation consultants, unless their is an abnormal amount of bleeding with a vaginal delivery, the uterine massage isn’t necessary. With a csection, the massage is necessary because the uterus doesn’t naturally cramp up on its own for a while. The massage gets this moving along.
It is very necessary so mother doesn’t get blood clots, wdangerousbe very dangerous. It is painful though!
I was surprised to find that the “after birth tincture” was made from herbs not from the placenta itself.
The placenta is a life long medicine for the baby and very good for the mother post partum.
There are “doulas” who specialise in drying then pulverising the placenta then placing it in capsules for ingestion. A tincture can be made from it a homeopathic medicine can be made from it. All good medicines
for the mother and baby. You should get advice from an experienced doula and homeopath about the making and use.
Do you deliver in a hospital or birthing center? What is your birth plan like? Are you rigid with your birth plan?
I’ve written a bit about it here: https://wellnessmama.com/6657/natural-birth-options/