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Friday, 24 April 2015

Plants and Herbs Used to Ease Childbirth and Achieve Painless Labour

In recent times the issue of infant/maternal mortality has become a quagmire and albatross hanging on the neck of modern childbirth healthcare delivery especially in high density urban, sub-urban and rural localities as is the case with societies like Nigeria. And the rest of the developing world is not left out, where adequate reproductive health services and facilities are either in short supply or are just not within the reach of the average individual due to poverty and sometimes, cultural practices.  

Great and pleasant expectations

Considering the enormity of the challenge and especially in the quest to stem the already high tide of women dying unnecessarily from childbirth, scientists and researchers have gotten together to look into the various plants and herbs which Nigerians for instance, have for long been using to achieve results in issues relating to aiding and managing the process of childbirth. These plants are said to possess very potent medicinal properties and so it has become so important to dig into them so as to properly document and utilise the full natural health benefits inherent in them.

These plants and native herbs have for ages been employed by professional herbalists, local birth attendants, and traditional healers alike to manage, treat and prevent any forms of issues relating to infant/maternal healthcare and childbirth delivery. 

These herbs have their various functions as they relate to infant/mother care right from conception to post natal i.e. after childbirth procedures. For instance, it is a fact that in the western parts of Nigeria, the popular vegetable called Ewedu (botanical name - Molokhia), is widely used to enhance smooth child delivery: What they do is get a bunch of leaves with its stems in a little water, squeeze juice out of it, and give to the woman to drink especially if there is any sign of delay or much pain during labour. It also enhances the flow of breast milk in lactating mothers.

African basil

Also, the Yoruba in Nigeria use unripe paw-paw to cure jaundice in mother and child after birth. This is an ailment observed by the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes; it is caused by an accumulation of bile pigment (bilirubin) in the blood. In this instance, what you do is to cut the unripe paw-paw into little bits; soak them in water for about 12 hrs, and administer the drink to both mother and baby. If baby rejects the drink however, it’s okay. It will still get to the baby from mother’s breast milk. 

So far a good number of these herbs have been identified and researchers are beginning to show the deserved interest to these local remedies, and this latest concern and interest is sure to eventually bring renewed hopes to the troubling issues relating to the high maternal/infant mortality rate especially in Nigeria which alarmingly is one of the highest in the world.These herbs go a long way towards reducing the time associated with pain and labour, prevent retention of placenta, and also the management of postpartum complications or complications that may arise immediately after, and as result of childbirth. 

As I have earlier mentioned, Africanbasil, which is referred to as nchuanwu among the Igbo, or efirin-aja in Yoruba language, is used as vegetable in soups and porridges and fed to the expectant mother as she looks forward to giving birth. So also is Bitter leaf (Ebeoyara in Edo language or Ewuro inYoruba, and Olugwu in Igbo) employed in broths so as to effect smooth child delivery by the ability of the herbs to promote and enhance easy progression and also to strengthen the muscles of the womb. 

And during labour these two leaves can also be given to the mother as freshly squeezed leaves or aqueous extracts. Also, experts at, have spoken extensively on the use of various herbs such as different types of tea to enable the onset of labour; some of these include but not limited to - Cinnamon stick tea, Red raspberry tea leaf, Black and Blue cohosh tea,Cumin tea, etc.

Bitter leaf plant

And so apart from the afore-mentioned plants, others include the followings herbs and, or plants: Calotropis procera (Sodom apple, Giant milk weed Leaves or Bomubomu in Yoruba), Commelina africana (day flower, Gbagodo-Yoruba), Duranta repens (sky flower, yellow garden), Hyptis suaveolens (Bush mint, Ebefue-Edo), Ocimum gratissimum, Saba comorensis (rubber vine, Eciwo-Hausa or Orombo-Ososo), Sclerocarya birrea (jelly plum, Loda- Hausa), Sida corymbosa (broom weed, Aramwemmvbi-Edo) and Vernonia amygdalina.

All of these plants also play great deal of roles in aiding childbirth, prevent complications that might result from childbirth and finally, reduce drastically if not eliminate the tragic but preventable incidents of infant/maternal mortality in our society at large. 

By Morgan Nwanguma

1 comment:

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