The pregnant family
All sorts of complementary approaches offer something to mums-to-be. The Bach remedies are particularly useful because they are associated with emotions, which are often in turmoil during and after pregnancy. They are, though, preserved in alcohol, so if you are pregnant we advise you dilute them (which reduces the amount of alcohol to trace levels) and consult your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns.
During pregnancy all kinds of emotions can come to the fore. There are numerous changes to cope with, which can be a struggle - Walnut is the remedy associated with adjusting to change and leaving old habits behind.
While some lucky women glow throughout, others feel down about the natural changes in appearance and shape that happen at this time. Crab Apple can help us accept how we look and feel more confident about how others see us.
As the birth itself gets closer it is natural to feel a little nervous about what is coming. Mimulus is the right remedy for this kind of normal, specific fear - and once again, the remedy to protect in times of change, Walnut, can come into its own. Star of Bethlehem is often used if the birth itself has been traumatic in any way.
Of course, mums-to-be aren't the only ones to suffer during pregnancy and its aftershocks. Dads suffer too, and so do brothers and sisters. Fortunately the remedies can help the whole family. For example:
- It isn't just mum who is coping with change, and Walnut can help all the family in the same way when the new arrival turns the house upside down.
- Holly is the remedy to help where siblings show jealousy or spite towards the new baby.
- Chicory is for the child (or parent) who likes being the centre of the family's love and feels rejected and hurt when people make a fuss of the new arrival instead.
- Elm is for capable people who feel temporarily that they can't cope when there are extra demands made on them.
- Olive is always worth considering where tiredness is a problem - but the underlying emotional cause should be treated as well.
Most parents want to be good parents. This can lead to feelings of guilt if other things get in the way. Dads may find that career demands force them to take a back seat during and after the pregnancy; mums may feel guilty about deciding to go back to work. Both may try to do too much in an effort to fit everything in. Pine is the remedy for guilt, while for overwork Oak helps the relentless plodder who never gives in, and Vervain is for people who take on extra hours with too much enthusiasm, maybe as a way of showing what good providers they are.
Guilt can also be a problem where work comes to seem a refuge from the mess and noise created by the new arrival. Again, Pine can help bring a sense of fairness, balance and responsibility back while at the same time reducing the negative effects of guilt.
For some parents the difficulty can be getting them to admit that they have any emotions at all, let alone negative ones. Those who laugh off the idea that the new baby might be putting them under stress, and turn every attempt at a serious discussion into a joke, would be candidates for Agrimony. This is the remedy for people who hide their worries behind a smile.
Others may go the opposite way and lose all sense of proportion. Working mums and dads who provide colleagues with exhaustive accounts of the baby's faecal exploits when they should be chairing a management meeting might need Heather to help them recover the ability to see beyond their own concerns.
The key in all cases is to select for the individual personality and emotional states of the person concerned. It doesn't matter if you are selecting for mum, dad or for one of the kids - the important thing is to look at the individual and how he or she feels.
With children - even very young children - this is usually not too difficult, since they are usually quite prepared to say what the problem is. But if there are problems or if the child is too young to understand what you are getting at, then you can get a lot of information just by playing with the child and looking at how she or he responds to things. Is she timid and shy (Mimulus) or bossy and determined to get her own way (Vine)? Does he fly into a temper when a toy doesn't work properly first time round (Impatiens), or continue to try in a methodical way to get it to go (Oak), or simply give up and not seem bothered whether it works or not (Wild Rose)?
When it comes to actually taking Bach remedies, there are two main ways to do this. The first is to get hold of an empty 30 ml dropper bottle from the chemist or health food shop. Put two drops of each selected remedy into the bottle - you can mix up to seven different remedies together if you need to - and top it up with still mineral water. Then from this bottle, known as a mixing bottle, you take four drops, four times a day.
The second way of taking the remedies is to again put two drops of each selected remedy into a glass of water, and then take sips from this throughout the day, at least four times during the day.
If you are adding the emergency combination formula to the glass or mixing bottle, add four drops instead of two.
Emergency combination? - most people know this by the trade name of the best-known brand, Rescue Remedy. It was put together by Dr Bach to deal with everyday crises and disasters, when we don't have time to make a personal selection. The emergency combination contains five individual flower remedies: Star of Bethlehem for shock, Clematis for faintness, Impatiens for agitation, Rock Rose for terror and Cherry Plum to help maintain self control.
The emergency combination isn't a panacea, and it's always better to treat the underlying causes of emotional states by using the individual remedies. But it should certainly be part of the kit you have packed in the car ready for the midnight dash to hospital. Four drops in a cup of water, or on a cold compress, will help to steady dad's nerves as delivery time approaches. If she can prise the bottle off him, mum will find it a help as well.