Reduce the Ring of Fire with St John’s Wort Oil

March 30, 2009 at 11:06 pm (Comfort Measures, Doula) ()

One of my favorite tips I received from an experienced midwife is a simple and effective way to ease the “ring of fire” some moms experience as their baby is crowning (as the widest part of the baby’s head is passing through the yoni).  She told me that she takes St. John’s Wort oil, a preparation of St. John’s Wort flowers in olive oil, and gently but thoroughly applies it to the perineum.  She told me that since she’d been using it, none of her clients had complained about the incredible burning, tearing, stinging pain of crowning.  Intrigued, I bought a jar of the oil for my second birth, and lo and behold, it worked!  I never felt his crowning in my perineum (although I was feeling the labor in every other part of my body…..unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a remedy for that), and he was the biggest of my babies, with a 14 3/4″ head. 

St John’s Wort is a well-used first aid remedy, because of its ability to ease nerve pain.  A description of its use, as well as many other helpful birth herbs, can be found here.  St John’s Wort can also be helpful when used in a massage oil if a mama is having painful back labor (since the nerves of the sacrum are frequently implicated in the pain of a posterior, or back, labor).  I usually carry a base massage oil, such as safflower, and then depending on the circumstances, I add  arnica oil (for tired, sore, bruised muscles) and/or St. John’s Wort Oil, and top it off with a few drops of lavender or rose oil.   If a mama is having nerve pain but would prefer not to use herbs, she can also try homeopathic Hypericum, which is the energetic form of the St. John’s Wort herb. 

As a doula who works in the hospital, I usually bring my oils with me, but I let my clients know that if they want them used during pushing, they will have to ask for them.  Doctors and midwives tend to be more likely to consider an herbal request from a mama than from a doula.  At a birth at a local community hospital, I was accompanying a mama who had expressed a strong desire to use St. John’s Wort during our pre-birth meetings.  When she started pushing, she said to her midwife, “I want that oil that Mayari has!  I want you to use it!”  Her midwife asked me what it was, and then shrugged and said “Why not?  Let’s see how it works!”  My lovely client, a first time mama, proceeded to push out her baby with no perineal pain at all, even though she (unfortunately) sustained a third-degree tear.  I was so pleased that the practitioners at this hospital were open to this gentle herbal assistance, and I have since found that many doctors, nurses and midwives are willing to try it if it’s what their patients want.


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