Working as a Childbirth Educator in Mexico: A Report from Alison Bastien


Flower essences during the childbearing cycle


Listening beyond words to recognize the soul’s true expression


Mexico is more than the media portrayal

Alison Bastien is a Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Professional Midwife who has lived and worked in Mexico since 1982. The following is a report from her in regard to her experiences working with flower essences in her practice. It has been slightly edited for presentation. Read more about Alison here.

I love flower essences because I feel they are the most forgiving and expansive expression of the plant...and a wonderful example for us humans to follow. Flower essences don’t ask you to be other than who you are, or to change your eating, thinking, stop you from taking other remedies or place any conditions upon your interaction with them. They will help and guide you no matter who you are or what the circumstance. There are no side effects and you cannot per se “do them wrong.” I know of no other form of plant medicine (or any other medicine for that matter) that can work so beautifully on ailments of the soul, particularly on helping people process, integrate, and grow with their feelings of depression, grief, anger, unworthiness, etc.
As I work with pregnant women and babies particularly, I find the above statements so very important. While in the herb shop we operate as well, I am moved by meeting and knowing how many people “off the street” have such difficult life situations. They come in looking for some type of help; some read the instructional booklets we offer and choose their own formulas, and others make appointments for a flower essence counseling session.

Flower essences during the childbearing cycle

I love working with women and children. In the childbearing cycle I find, for example, the flower essences of Holly and /or Willow to be of great help when a child is feeling confused, resentful, sad, apprehensive, or are “acting out” before or after the arrival of a new sibling. These essences also have been very helpful for children whose parents are going through divorce, and/or are adolescents.

The Holly helps to address the often unspoken fear that there isn’t enough love to go around now that someone new is coming, that perhaps one is no longer loved as much, or wasn’t good enough and so the parents needed a new child, etc. The Willow helps to address and move through the feelings of “no fair, now everyone is with the baby and not me…” and other similar thoughts. 

Many issues come up for pregnant women and so it is difficult to generalize about the experience of pregnancy and the use of flower essences. But for example, I may recommend Star of Bethlehem when a mother realizes she hasn’t quite processed her previous birth, that actually it was a lot more traumatic than she had allowed herself to acknowledge. But now that she faces going through labor again with her next baby, issues and feelings surface which she would like to clear so as not to bring old trauma to a new experience.
White Chestnut is helpful when a woman isn’t sleeping well because she is obsessing over some fear or thoughts about her experiences. Pomegranate and/or Mariposa Lily come into play when the woman is conflicted in her feelings about becoming a mother (Pomegranate) and/or has conflicted feelings about her own mother, or how she was or wasn’t mothered (Mariposa Lily).

Elm or Oak is also a mother’s friend, whether she is a first-time mother or has a house full of children and/or is juggling children and a career. Elm is useful when a woman feels so overburdened and overwhelmed with it all, for example, at 6 to 10 weeks postpartum when many return to their regular lives plus having a newborn baby to care for. Oak helped a mother with two little boys who then gave birth to a Downs Syndrome child. She knew this wasn’t a temporary overload; and, like the mighty Oak, she was going to have to stand strong and constant as support, and be a loving presence for many years. Olive or Aloe Vera helps mothers a few weeks after the holidays who haven’t gotten enough sleep or support, and they are just exhausted on all levels.

I often recommend the Monkeyflowers:

Scarlet Monkeyflower is used for women who feel unsupported but are afraid of their husband or family’s anger if they ask for help, and/or are afraid of the depth of their own anger if and when they finally speak out their frustration.

Pink Monkeyflower is for those who feel shame at their own loneliness or neediness during or after pregnancy, wishing they could open their hearts more deeply to their partners, but are already so vulnerable that they are unsure that it is safe to do so.

Sticky Monkeyflower helps women who come for fertility counseling and are unsure about how to be in relationship on a personal level.

Issues of loneliness, grief, anticipatory anxiety, exhaustion, and disconnection from the Divine Feminine are themes I see often during pregnancy and postpartum, and I am grateful for the help of flower essences. These issues are not as freely discussed or addressed as a normal part of our experiences in motherhood, so there is also sometimes involved the element of Pine or Larch—guilt, low self-esteem or blame.

Listening beyond words to recognize the soul’s true expression

Sometimes I will be asked for a flower essence “for depression” or “for anxiety” and as I listen to the situation, it turns out someone was robbed, or their partner left them suddenly, or they were abused verbally or physically, and I realize depression or anxiety isn’t really the issue. They are more like side effects, as it were, of the anger that has nowhere to go (Cherry Plum, Scarlet Monkeyflower) and the frustration, impotence and unfairness (Willow) that they feel. Sometimes White Chestnut is helpful as they obsess on their feelings, or the event, and Star of Bethlehem for the trauma. Sometimes it’s not so much the experience as it is the reaction it brings up for them that needs to be addressed.
Any work with plant medicine has as foundation this idea of open-hearted listening, and not presupposing how someone is feeling based on just what they are saying. Initially, one works with the Flower Essence Repertory to discover the amazing array of “this for that”—flowers and soul issues, and we diligently apply the ideas to what we think the people are saying. Over time, we develop a sensibility, hopefully beginning to listen behind the words or circumstances to the feeling-place where the soul is finding it hard to manifest or recognize its true expression via the daily interactions. Dr. Bach originally posited that most illness stems from the gap between who we think we ought to be and who, in our essence, we really are, and I agree. Who we really are is much bigger, much more expanded, much more capable of extending and running loving-kindness through our lives than most of us allow ourselves to imagine.

For this reason, “taking the case” teaches us to expand beyond our ideas and judgments about how people “should” respond in different circumstances. Instead, we may aspire to be more like the flowers themselves—simply present, grounded, offering our gifts if someone’s looking for them; fine if they are not.  One can learn more about oneself from every session as well, and, in turn, “bloom” and reflect the many aspects of the human spirit as one sits before ones “clients” (or sits before the Repertory looking at aspects of oneself).

Mexico is more than the media portrayal
As everywhere, here in Mexico we also have seasonal and age related issues. At the holidays we see a lot more people seeking help for depression, 20-50 year old women often looking for an eating disorder blend, and the last few years with the economy becoming worse, we have seen more people looking for a blend for prosperity. The violence in our country is highly dramatized in the media, and certainly has escalated all over the country in very bizarre ways, but people tend to adapt, or move, or do what they can to survive.
Because of the nature of my practice (private, mostly women) I see many more women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse or from dysfunctional families than I see of people who have been victims of drug related violence. It is a bit tiresome for those of us who live here to know that the very first thing people think of when we say “Mexico” is violence or danger because really, it is a beautiful country with so many other things going on as well.

I have been stocking in the shop—as well as working with in my private practice--the flower essences for nearly 25 years here, and I definitely see that they are much more widely accepted and understood in the last seven or so years than previously. Many of the local therapists and psychotherapists send their patients to the shop to have their prescriptions filled utilizing Bach and/or FES essences, and there are many practitioner trainings pertaining to flower essence therapy in the major cities. There are practitioners who use it in conjunction with kinesiology, reiki, and other modalities as well.

About Alison Bastien

I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology/psychology, am a Certified Childbirth Educator and a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). I went to college in Humboldt County, California, back in the late 1970s, and it was there among the tall redwoods that I really became aware of the spirits of the plants. I spent a lot of time in between classes sitting in a Redwood grove, my back against the trees. And in retrospect, I feel like something really seeped into my spirit as well, during those years in the woods.
Since 1982, I have been living in central Mexico. 20 years ago, my husband who is Mexican, and I opened an herbal gift shop in which we still work to this day—La Victoriana. Upstairs above the shop, we have a little workshop where my two assistants and I make over 400 herbal remedies every day. We make soaps, shampoos, tinctures, homeopathic remedies, pet remedies, sprays, lotions, and so on. And, we make flower essence blends using the FES and Healing Herb remedies. Some are our own standard blends, and others we make specifically for customers at their request. We also fill flower essence prescriptions for local therapists and counselors.

I also teach classes in midwifery, childbirth education, and what I call plant-spirit-medicine. In this class, we look at what I call the 7 octaves or vibrational levels of essence which the plants share with us: from physical presence, teas and tinctures, oils and aromatherapy, homeopathy and then, the seventh level, as flower essences.

People often are seeking “real” Mexican or indigenous information regarding health issues, and I usually fall through the cracks as a resource, as I am between the worlds, between the cultures. I work with people from all over the world, literally, as well as a base population of Mexicans and ex-patriots from North and South America. I like it that way, because here I am able to meet people in their human-ness, not so much in their cultures, except as to how that reflects on their souls and their ability to be at home on the planet and in themselves. Again, this is something I love about flower essences; they are not culturally dependant and the appreciation for plants and flowers is truly universal.

Flower essences are our most “forgiving” form of plant medicine in that they will work with anyone, anytime, regardless of their beliefs, dietary or lifestyle habits, race, gender, age, or whatever other medicines or remedies they may be taking at the time. They return us ever so gently to ourselves in flower. We are not here to “use” the essences to “fix” people, so much as to enjoy watching one another unfold.


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