Anthroposophical Nursing Therapies for Postpartum Support
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Anthroposophical Nursing Therapies for Postpartum Support 

After studying Rudolf Steiner Education I became very interested in Steiners philosophy of the Human Being and his approach to medicine. I attended a Foundation course in Anthroposophical Nursing Therapies and was introduced to a range of Home Care Therapies, that are simple to perform but have profound influence on our subtle bodies so can effect our well being at a deep level. As the postpartum window is a time when the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thin, these therapies can be performed on the new mother to support and nourish her body, soul and spirit. The external application of compresses using herbs, ointments and oils, warming footbaths and herbal teas are used to assist the woman to find her individual way during a phase of her life where she is undergoing profound change. Through the sensory experience of applications on the skin it helps her regain a connection to her body, to nature and also the cosmos through the substances used and the time spent going within by being enveloped physically by being wrapped and spiritually through the warmth and compassion of the caregiver. The key elements of the treatments are warmth, rhythm and the conscious presence of the therapist. The womans life forces are stimulated and in freedom, she can take up the impulse and regain balance.  

A treatment that I feel that most newborn mothers need and resonate with is a Lavender Footbath. Lavender has a relaxing and calming effect. For the newborn mother who has just undertaken the enormous task of birthing her baby, lavender can soothe the nervous system, deeply warm her body and soul and release any tension she may be feeling. Being harmonizing, Lavender envelops the senses and helps to bring sleep. The warmth of the footbath helps to warm the periphery, increase circulation and draw the energy out of the head and down the body. The legs are cloaked in a towel and the woman left in quiet to go within. I have noticed after the footbath that most women are quieter, more reflective and have a sense of peace within themselves.

Anthroposophical Nursing Therapies

A treatment that is useful after a particularly hard birth is a Rose, Lavender and Gold ointment cloth over the heart. This helps to create emotional space after threshold experiences. Rose supports the rhythmic system (our breathing and feeling life), can help with anxiety and depression and alleviates fear. Gold is reminiscent of the sun, used over the heart it helps to restore equilibrium and fill us with light. Lavender relieves nervous tension and promotes relaxation. The woman is wrapped with a blanket and given space to be quiet and process the journey of her birth. Often she will emerge with new insights into her process and have the internal space to stay with it. I gave this treatment to a client who had lost her baby in birth. She was having a hard time coming to terms with what had happened and felt very stuck emotionally.  Afterwards, she was able to open herself to her grief and express her feelings more freely.  A number of sessions using this ointment may be necessary for the woman to access her deeper feelings. 

For mastitis, a quark compress works surprisingly well. Quark is made from the curds of soured milk separated from the whey. This separating process continues during the application of the compress, so that a slow drawing effect is produced which relieves congestion and removes toxins from the body. The effect is cooling and relieves pain. It is done after a breastfeed and when acute, can be done after every feed for 24 hours. The quark compress can be alternated with a hot mercurialis compress, the latter done before the feed. 

Blackthorn Elixir is a wonderful strengthening tonic that can be taken by the Postpartum mum. It assists in the treatment of fatigue and convalescence. Blackthorn or Prunus Spinosa has a great vitality but retains this vitality inwardly. This gives us a picture of how it can help the mother hold her vital forces centrally rather than dissipating into the periphery. These forces stimulate the metabolism, increase elimination of toxins and help to cleanse the blood. I also use Blackthorn oil to massage the mothers body which strengthens her etheric or life body. 

These are just a few of the beautiful treatments Anthroposophical Nursing Therapies can offer the new mother in the Postpartum period.  Combined with natures substances, the gestures of nurturing, protecting, balancing, enveloping and stimulating are used to create a wholistic treatment.

Joanne Mackintosh

Learn more about Joanne:

Hi, my name is Joanne and I am a mum to two amazing humans, Amberlily 11yrs and Cian 9yrs and wife to my wonderful husband Bill. We live in Newcastle Australia, close to the ocean and nature which are my two favourite places to be! I am a Postpartum Doula and Massage Therapist and I love supporting women in their journey through the sacred window of postpartum. My passion in life is to “bring the sacred into the everyday” as I have always been interested in spirituality and mysticism. When I look back over my life 

journey I see the many threads that have led me here and understand now how they have woven together to create the tapestry of my work and life today. Spirituality, different cultures, healing, nature, animals and babies. My studies have been focused on Energetic Medicine, Anthroposophical Nursing and Education, Yoga, Reiki and Bach Flower essences and now Ayurveda is opening up new ways of thinking to add to my repertoire. I honour stillness and reverence, holding space for others, nurturing through food and touch, healing through bodywork, yoga and breathwork and guiding families to find their individual rhythm.

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Conscious Postpartum Caregiver Program

Inspired by Ayurvedic Principles