Interview conducted and edited by Jann Garitty
“Pregnancy, birthing and mothering is a pivotal point in a woman’s life and one needs to have these helpers through that process. I was blessed to have three totally uncomplicated, beautiful deliveries and definitely my flower essences, herbs and homeopathics were my friends along the way to help me, and help to bring my babies to earth.”
FES spoke with Victoria Nickels, a registered community-based traditional midwife of 40 years, about using flower essences for both mothers and babies during the birthing process. She uses flower essences with nearly every birthing experience. What follows are reflections on her long-time experience and expertise.
When I first began attending births, there was a mother who had a posterior birth, and it was the first I’d seen. She had to push for 5 hours, and when the baby came out, his head was very misshapen, his scalp was bleeding and he was screaming loudly; he was obviously traumatized.
At that time, we put babies in LaBoye baths, a bathtub off to the side to help to calm them. The midwife used Rescue Remedy and put it in the water and on the baby’s head. I saw my first miracle: we all stood and watched, and within 3 minutes, the baby’s head was totally reformed and became a normal baby’s head. He had quieted down, calmed down, and the bleeding had stopped on his scalp.
I thought to myself in that point of time, I never want to go to a birth without Rescue Remedy/Five-Flower Formula. The difference between the two that I see, is that sometimes I find that the Five-Flower is more effective for helping a woman move away from her trauma and lose the fear more quickly when she’s blaming herself. Oftentimes she feels, “It’s something I did, something that happened because of me,” instead of knowing that it’s just one of those things that happens with birth. I use that more specifically when I see that particular emotional factor.
Oftentimes, even if a baby is just somewhat acting traumatized, I will use the Rescue Remedy/Five-Flower, whichever I have in my pocket at the time. We don’t always put it in the baby’s mouth, but will rub it on their scalps or put it on their feet.
I use the Benediction oil for Blessing Ways. For most of our deliveries now, we usually begin with a Blessing Way for the mom. If she’s very religious and doesn’t want a Blessing Way, I will find some way to say a prayer with her and use Benediction oil on her. I truly love that; we always need to shift the focus from the physical experience to the emotional-spiritual experience. I believe that the Benediction oil very much helps me to do that. When we do a Blessing Way for the mom, we use the Benediction oil as an anointing oil, passing it around in the circle of women friends, and each anointing and blessing a different part of her body.
I see a tremendous shift in moms after they’ve been blessed. They are more calm and more willing to let go of their day-to-day walk and look at their body and birth experience as a blessing, as a spiritual experience. I tell women all the time, “When you give birth, it’s not just your body that opens, but your spirit will open and the entire universe is going to blow through there.”
Another favorite that I use constantly is Self-Heal flower essence. We do many water births, and I put it in the water in which the baby will be born, because of the feeling of well-being that it imparts to them right away. I believe it helps to alleviate much of what could be trauma from birth: the baby’s experience of fear due to being in the womb one minute and then out the next minute. However, if a baby comes out and is empowered with a sense of well-being, that makes all the difference. The mothers are calmer, and it helps them to be empowered. They get into the water and begin to ingest it through their pores. They have a sense of well-being, that everything is okay, and they can relax into the experience. It takes just 4 drops in water in a huge tub. I believe there’s a dramatic difference for the mothers when I don’t use it.
We do an herb bath after the baby is born, and I put Self-Heal in it as well. The mom also has a peri bottle that she uses for the first 2-3 weeks during her healing—and that’s whether she had stitches or not. Usually for the first week, we add a little betadine, calendula tincture, along with a few drops of the Self-Heal. After the first week, she just uses the calendula and Self-Heal.
I have used the following formula for several hundred births now:
If there’s a problem pregnancy, or for someone who is extremely fearful, or needs to work through something, I give it to her earlier in the pregnancy. Everybody in my practice uses it for the last six weeks of pregnancy. The instructions are: Shake to activate, either 4 drops under the tongue or 4 drops in water. Oftentimes, I’ll have them activate their water every time they pour some water or pregnancy tea.
I give mothers the Birthing Formula during labor, oftentimes as women go from one stage of labor to the other. I also use it with a first-time mom who is a little bit overdue, perhaps a week overdue, and is very anxious. I advise her to put it under her tongue if she has any fearful thoughts, put it in her drinking water and in her bathtub for a daily bath. I notice that the women totally surrender: surrender is the thing that is so difficult with a first birth. One has to surrender, let it be on the baby’s time, and let the birth happen as it happens. We know that birth works if we allow it to unfold and don’t interfere with it.
I also use the formula if I see a mom be stuck anywhere, or if she starts to be emotional in her labor to the point that it’s interfering with her ability to cope with her labor.
This formula is also good for post partum. Some moms tell me that the pregnancy and birth is easy for them, but the adjustment afterwards to being a new mother—particularly if they have other little children—is sometimes more difficult for them. It is used in the post partum as a preventative for depression. Some may have had that experience before. We, of course, provide or encourage all other types of healthy support such as ongoing prenatal vitamins, pregnancy tea, and an excellent diet. We stay close so that we know this is the case…we bring meals and watch over her. But, if we know that we have a history of someone who struggles, then we’ll encourage her to continue to take her Birthing Formula several times a day. Also, we put it in her peri bottle, along with the Self-Heal essence.
For a baby with normal physiological jaundice, Dandelion Dynamo is my go-to. It is to stimulate power for the liver, as jaundice comes from an immature liver. I usually see the condition resolve in 2-3 days. We oil the baby with it twice a day, rubbing it over the whole body. I’ve never seen a baby have a skin reaction to it. I find it just as powerful as sunshine, the other way we treat jaundice.
Years ago, before knowing about Dandelion Dynamo, babies oftentimes would have to go through a whole two weeks with jaundice before it would resolve. Sunshine is a powerful healer, and if babies can be in the sunshine a couple of times a day—even just light through a window—it can be healed. However, because we live in the Pacific Northwest, with not as much sunlight, we need all the help we can get with persistent jaundice conditions. Dandelion “Dynamo” really stimulates that liver to get going; it has a dynamic effect on the baby, and they become dynamically healthy.
Oftentimes with jaundice, babies become dehydrated because they don’t want to nurse as much. Since I’ve added Dandelion Dynamo to my practice, I don’t have to worry about that particular issue. I’ll check on the babies with jaundice, and in a few days, they’re already clearing up; they are thriving, and they’re awake. Jaundice oftentimes happens with a baby that doesn’t want to “wake up” and I find that Dandelion Dynamo is the key.
I used Grace with a mother who had a very traumatic birth. In my experience, if you’re going to have a problem at the birth, it’s usually one or the other, the mother or the baby. In this particular birth, it was both. The baby went to the hospital, and the mother also had to go to the hospital for treatment. She was greeted by a hostile doctor who was cruel to her. He didn’t numb her before suturing her, and when he checked on the sutures, he pressed hard, ripping some of them out, and he had to start over again. He made her crawl into her bed. He was very cruel; and, at the same time her baby was away from her, so she didn’t know what was going on.
The hospital opted to airlift her baby to San Francisco which is a 7 hour drive from where we live. When I received the hospital reports from the San Francisco hospital, they said that the baby was absolutely fine: “We’re not sure why we have it.” So, this was another cruel blow to the mother. I gave the mother the Grace formula and to this day, even though she went through that trauma, she’ll tell you that she feels that she had a wonderful labor and a great birth, and if she has another child, she’ll have another home birth. Grace was able to remove all of the trauma that she had experienced.
One mother I worked with had mastitis. Oftentimes, the first symptoms of mastitis is a headache or fever, even before experiencing a sore breast. Her initial symptom, however, was depression. It came like a cloud. I saw her life vitality go down, and then her mastitis came on. I use a variety of homeopathics, herbal tinctures, rest, compresses and even essential oils for mastitis, but I felt her emotions and soul needed to be dealt with foremost. She put it on her heart, her solar plexus and also put it on her breast. Almost immediately—the mastitis we still battled for a couple of days—but almost immediately, her depression lifted. I will continue to use that whenever I have a mom who is depressed.
I was born August 2, 1957 in the Navel base Hospital in Jacksonville Florida. I was the oldest of my mother’s 4 children. I was raised in the military where I observed my Mother have terrible experiences in hospitals. At the age of 10, I decided I would not have my babies there. With my first pregnancy, I searched for a group of midwives and found a group that was training midwives as well. At 4 months of pregnancy, I was asked to apprentice. So, I began attending births in 1975. We practiced physiological birth, allowing Mother and Nature to take the lead, and scooping the Dads right along. I attended Hygeia School of Midwifery with Jeanne Parvati Baker. I also received my Prenatal Yoga teaching certificate from her and began to offer this in 1976. Then, I became a Hatha Yoga instructor. I am the Mother of seven children, all but 1 born at home, and the Grandmother of 8, most of them home births. I am ecstatically married to the love of my life for 21 years, Dr. Russ Nickels. He was my backup doctor for 20 years before we married, and so has been my hero for a very long time. I am currently approaching 500 attended births and seem to never have lost my sense of wonder at the birth of each newborn child and parents. It is my goal to be a life-long learner and offer the best that love, knowledge and spirit can offer. I never attend a birth without hours of prayer. To the left is a picture of my daughter Atlantis and her newborn Son Dylan Kai. There is no greater gift than to be able to “catch” your grand babies and watch your child open and bloom with birth and parenthood.
P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA 95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163 fax: 530-265-0584
Copyright © by the Flower Essence Society.
All rights reserved.