While breastfeeding is actively promoted in almost all Canadian communities, a new mother may need or want to prevent further lactation or dry up her milk. Reasons include still-born, surrogacy, medical conditions requiring treatment contraindicated with breastfeeding, past abuse, and lifestyle choices. For many women it’s a very difficult decision. Women need acceptance and supported in their choices. To that end, here’s information to help a woman cease lactation in the safest and least painful way.
CALENDULA PADS – For swelling, pain, heat. Make 5-10 pads 6 weeks before due date.
Calendula flowers promote healing and are soothing when applied topically.
- Calendula Mixture: Make tea from dried calendula leaves (1 full tea ball per cup water steeped for 10 min) or use tincture (20-30 drops per cup water). Add 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil or some lavender tea to mixture.
- Partially dip maxi pads – preferably long, organic – in calendula mixture briefly, just to soak top layer. Another option is to use a sprayer to wet the tops.
- Freeze pads in bowls so they’re curved like the female body. Store in Ziplocs (labeled with your name) in freezer.
- Bring the pads to birth-place! Hospitals and birthing centers have freezers.
- Apply immediately after birth.
Soothing and healing for swelling, pain, abrasions, tears, bruising. It’s safe to use with stitches. This can be prepared during early labor or ahead of time and frozen/refrigerated.
- Fill a peri- or spray-bottle with calendula mixture (above), a healing solution (below) or warm water.
- Hospitals will provide a peri-bottle. A spritz bottle works too.
- Squirt solution on perineum after every washroom use, shower/bath, or in between if extra relief is needed. Do not rinse solution off.
- If urination burns then squirt during urination or pee in the bath.
- Allow the area to dry between applications. Air-time or even a cool blow drier can be helpful.
- Note: if the rectum is sore or stitched, support the perineum with a cloth during bowel movements (like pooping into a cloth).
- Soak your perineum in a bath for 15 minutes, 3 times daily. Shallow water is fine.
- Add Epsom salt and if you wish to use herbs, add 1-2 cups raw herbs or healing herb tea, ¼ cup tincture, or up to 5 drops of pure essential oil. If you wish to use plain water then spray the healing solution after the bath.
- Some women like cool water for inflammation while others find warm water soothing. Experiment with temperatures but avoid extremes during the initial postpartum days, and keep the rest of your body warm.
- Do not sit on a donut-shaped vessel in the bath as it adds pressure.
Calendula is healing, along with other herbs such as comfrey, lavender, witch hazel, tea-tree, yarrow. Feel free to ask me about the various healing properties of the different herbs. Nice sitz-bath blends can be purchased – look for an Epsom salts base with herbs or pure essential oils; no fragrance or additives. There are some nice soothing perineum sprays on the market, such as Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray, sold in Regina at Head-to-Heal Wellness in Cathedral, or Hello Baby in East.
RECOVERY FROM DIFFICULT BIRTH
After a difficult birth follow the above recommendations plus:
- Keep knees together as much as possible for the first 2 weeks, even while walking
- Avoid stairs
- Lift nothing heavier than the baby
- Allow area to “breath” – air time or cotton panties (no synthetics)
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
- Avoid perfumes, chemicals
- Avoid straining on the toilet – good nutrition and lots of water, support perineum with a cloth during bowel movements (like pooping into a cloth)
- See a Physiotherapist who specializes in women’s pelvic floor to heal pelvic floor muscles; recover from perineum tears; avoid or heal incontinence, painful intercourse and pelvic pain
- Consider seeing a complimentary practitioner who specializes in and is experienced with maternal postpartum recovery, such as a Webster certified chiropractor or an osteopath, to help ensure pelvic organs, bones, ligaments are healthy and aligned.
SPECIAL INFANT CARE FOLLOWING DIFFICULT BIRTH
- Lots of frontal contact, skin-to-skin if possible; helps establish breastfeeding and is reassuring for baby. Babies who are held feed better, poop and pee more, and are therefore less prone to jaundice and other illnesses.
- See a complimentary practitioner who specializes in and is very experienced with newborn care, especially if there was any trauma to baby’s head (vacuum, forceps, caesarean, malposition, and/or long “pushing stage”) e.g. chiropractor, cranio-sacral therapist, osteopath.
What qualifies you to provide this service?
Proper training and a lot of experience: We’ve offered this service since 2009 and between us have done 500+ placentas, making us the most experienced encapsulators in Saskatchewan. We are both OSHA certified and trained in Universal Precautions, food science and preservation. We train placenta encapsulators through Birth Ways International.
How long does it take? The capsules are ready in 1-2 days from when we get the placenta.
How many capsules will I get?
That depends on the size of your placenta. Most women get over 100 capsules. The average is around 115. Bigger placentas can fill close to 140 capsules.
What’s the difference between gel and veg caps?
Gel caps are made from animal gelatin and veg caps are vegan, made from plant materials. See a detailed ingredients list for our high quality capsules.
How do you clean and care for your equipment?
The processing is done using OSHA Blood Borne Pathogen Standards. All surfaces and equipment are cleaned, then disinfected, then twice-sterilized using chemical methods. (This is “over-kill” but is reassuring to us and our clients!) We use high quality equipment that can be properly sterilized and is kept in like-new working order.
Can I keep my placenta if I have a caesarean birth?
Yes. The steps are exactly the same. Simply ensure your O.R. nurse knows you wish to keep it.
Am I “allowed” to keep my placenta? Do I need permission from my doctor?
It’s yours to keep. Simply write in your birth plan or tell your care-provider, “I’m keeping my placenta.” Other details are for you to share or not as you choose. Obstetrical staff at Regina General Hospital and nearby rural hospitals are quite used to women keeping their placenta. If you’re at another hospital that has concerns, then you can sign their Release of Live Tissue waiver. Remind the people attending your birth that you wish to keep it.
Can you make capsules from my placenta if I choose to use epidural or other medications in labour? Yes.
Is my placenta safe to encapsulate if there’s meconium (baby poops inside) during the birth?
Yes. The initial cleaning process takes care of this.
Are there any cases where my placenta can’t be encapsulated?
In the rare case of uterine or placental infection during labour, your placenta will be taken away to the pathology department for analysis. We’ve processed well over 500 placentas and have never received one that was infected (we do watch for it though). All placentas are inspected after birth by midwives/doctors, who do not send infected placentas (or anything else) home with patients. Basically if your placenta is not taken away, it’s healthy for encapsulation.
Do you serve out-of-town clients?
Yes. We have systems in place to make this easy for you. We provide detailed, easy-to-follow instructions.
How do I package the placenta for you?
At Regina General Hospital, the placenta is usually put into a square plastic container; you can use that for storage and transport. We provide detailed instructions to bring your own container as a back-up. You can ask your nurse to get it ready. While it’s not her “job”, most are happy to help. At home births or other hospitals you’ll need to provide your own container (we provide detailed instructions). If you have your baby at night or are shipping the placenta, then you’ll keep it cold (detailed instructions provided) until the morning when it’s picked up.
How do I get the placenta to you?
One of us picks it up at Regina General Hospital or at your home in Regina city limits, depending where you give birth. If you have your baby out of town then you can have it delivered to us. We provide detailed instructions.
How do you ensure the capsules are returned to the right person?
This is one of the most important parts of the process! One of several advantages to working in partnership is that we can process two placentas at the same time in two separate locations. We have a triple labeling system in place to ensure 100% accuracy; your placenta is attached to a label at every stage of processing, from placenta pick-up through to delivery of capsules. These are a matter of routine, and are followed with every client’s placenta, even though we rarely have 2 placentas in the same building at the same time.
How do I get the capsules back?
We deliver the capsules anywhere within Regina city limits. If you live out of town then we can ship them or send them with someone going your way (we can drop the package off anywhere in Regina to that person).
How long do the capsules last?
They’re best used within 1 year, stored at room temperature in an airtight container (glass jar). After that they don’t necessarily go “bad”, but the nutrients start to diminish. If you wish to keep them longer, then the freezer can extend that for up to another year if they go in within the first few months. (We don’t recommend this because we hear from so many women who put them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them.)
What is the Traditional Chinese Method?
Warming herbs are added to the placenta during processing. It’s an extra step that adds 1 day and a small fee to the process. Our placenta training includes a variety of methods of preservation and processing but encapsulation of pure placenta with no additives is by far the most requested method.
How do I store the capsules?
Just keep them in the glass jar. There’s no need to refrigerate them. They’re good for up to a year at room temperature in a cupboard. If you wish to keep them longer, then store in a deep-freeze for up to two years.
Can you make capsules out of my frozen placenta? Yes.
How do we proceed?
Please contact me for next steps. You will receive a contract via e-mail that you sign and return, and an instruction sheet for your birth-bag. We need your estimated due date and contact info. You can send an e-transfer, post-dated cheque or provide cash with the placenta.
What if I Haven’t Made Arrangements Yet? We can usually accommodate you. In an ideal world everything will be set up ahead of time. However if you just decided to do this while you’re in labour – or even after your birth – and need to make quick arrangements, please text during normal “awake” hours. (If you have your baby after 9am or before 8am, please put your placenta in fridge or on ice and get in touch in the morning.)
Women have consumed infusions (tea) of Red Raspberry leaf and Nettle leaf through the ages for a healthy childbearing year, healthy reproductive organs at any stage of life, and to keep their skin soft and supple. This blend is very high in easily absorbed minerals. If no milk or sugar is added then this drink counts toward your daily water intake.
Drink 1-3 cups of Pregnancy Tea, hot or cold, daily through first 2 trimesters, and 3 cups during last trimester.
Combine these teas in any ratio you wish, but the general recipe is:
- 2 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
- 2 parts Nettle Leaf
- 1 part Horsetail Leaf (added for calcium & strong bones)
- Optional: 1 bag or small scoop of lemon, berry/fruit teas (ensure no licorice), mint or lemongrass to change up the flavour.
A batch can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
- Most commonly used and well-known pregnancy herb
- Tones female reproductive system; also pelvic and uterine muscles
- High amounts vitamin C, easily assimilated calcium and iron
- Also vitamins E, A, B-complex, many minerals inc phosphorus and potassium
- High mineral content helps tissues stretch, decreases stretch marks, helps prevent anemia
- Lower rates of miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage
- Prepares body for labor. Therefore decreases pain and length of labor. Doesn’t strengthen contractions but makes them more efficient.
- Help expel placenta
- Good for morning sickness
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
- High amounts of virtually all mineral & vitamins needed for health
- Especially high in A,C,E,D,K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, sulfur
- High amounts of chlorophyll (for energy and nutrients, vitamin K)
- Nourish and strengthen kidneys; gently dislodge and dissolve any mineral buildup
- Relax leg cramps and muscle spasms
- Prevent hemorrhage after birth due to high vitamin K
- Strengthens blood vessels, therefore good for hemorrhoid prevention
- Astringent for hemorrhoids
- Increases quality of breast milk
Other herbs high in easily-assimilated vitamins and minerals (alone or added to the above teas) include Horsetail a.k.a. Shavegrass (very high in calcium), Alfalfa and Kelp.
Several other herbs are safe during pregnancy and are tasty e.g. mint. Some aid pregnancy related issues such as nausea, heartburn, cramping, and constipation to name a few. These include but are not limited to ginger, chamomile, slippery elm bark, and fennel. Consult a qualified herbalist with knowledge of pregnancy herbs before taking any.
By the way, this tea is healthy for the males in your life too, and is safe for all ages from infancy on. It’s a lovely, mildly flavoured drink for the whole family.
Prefer pre-packaged tea? Health stores and quality Mama/Baby stores sell pregnancy tea, e.g. Earth Mama Angel Baby “Third Trimester Tea” (which you can take in any trimester).